The alarm rings at 7:00 a.m. sharp. You stumble to the kitchen, turn on the coffeemaker, and jump in the shower. Yikes – no shampoo! You meant to buy some yesterday… well, soap will have to do. Showered and dried, you rummage through the knot of socks in your dresser drawer and salvage the pair with the fewest holes. Speed to the kitchen, slosh some coffee in a thermal cup… no time for breakfast; you’ll grab a Danish at work. Where are your keys, where are your keys… you start your car and a warning light appears on the dashboard: You’re almost out of gas. You’re going to be late – again!
Life is hectic, and it’s tempting to imagine that keeping our busy households in order is a uniquely modern challenge. The truth is, our basic needs for food, clothing, and safe shelter haven’t changed over our long history of living together in homes – although our methods of meeting these needs certainly have.
In our modern age of electric lights, coffee makers, and fast-food restaurants, we’re largely disconnected from the normal cycles of seasons, phases of the moon, and even day and night. Not so long ago, however, daily activities were routinely planned around these familiar cycles. I grew up on a farm in the early 1960s, and my father consulted the Old Farmers Almanac before planting his crops to ensure that the phase and sign of the moon were appropriate. My aunt, who often gave us haircuts, would only wield her scissors when the Moon was in its waxing phase; she claimed this guaranteed faster-growing, healthier hair.
These were not astrologers, just people with a rich tradition of respecting and working with natural cycles. In agricultural societies, cooperation with nature has always been acknowledged as crucial to survival and to a successful harvest. It’s only natural that domestic routines came to reflect the same sensibility. The seasons and lunar phases dictated times for planting, fertilizing, and gathering; and the days of the week, with their connection to the Sun, Moon, and five visible planets, suggested a natural system for organizing tasks, such as housework, that are done on a regular basis.
This connection is visible even in the names of the days of the week. Sunday was, of course, named for the Sun, and Monday for the Moon, honoring the rulers of day and night. The other days take their names from Norse gods of antiquity, and are ruled by the planets named for their mythical Roman counterparts. Tuesday was named after Tews, the god of war, and is ruled by Mars. Wednesday (Woeden’s Day) derives its name from Odin, the god of wisdom; its ruler is Mercury. “Thor’s Day” was named for the god of thunder and protection and is ruled by Jupiter. Friday, named for Freya, goddess of love and fertility, is ruled by Venus. Finally, Saturday takes its name from Saturn, the Roman god of the harvest.
Each day is believed to have a sympathetic connection with tasks that are ruled by the planet for which it was named. So culturally pervasive is this connection that it has found its way into folklore and song. The nursery rhyme “Here We Go ‘Round the Mulberry Bush”, which is believed to date from the mid-18th century, began as a way for washerwomen to teach their children basic housekeeping. The rhyme details a system for completing the week’s chores that not only makes perfect practical sense, but also reflects the traditional planetary rulerships for the days of the week. It’s a system that was still being used, in a slightly modified form, by Victorian homemakers:
Monday (the Moon’s day) for laundry;
Tuesday (Mars’ day) for ironing;
Wednesday (Mercury’s day) for mending;
Thursday (Jupiter’s day) for shopping;
Friday (Venus’ day) for housecleaning;
Saturday (Saturn’s day) for baking;
Sunday (the Sun’s day) for rest.
By the time I grew up in mid-20th century America, this domestic schedule was still deeply entrenched in the culture. I vividly remember my neighbor’s “days of the week” aprons, each embroidered with the day’s chore! Nor was this tradition confined to America or England. A friend who grew up in Mexico confirms that essentially the same routine was followed on her family’s ranch.
But can modern homemakers take our cues from the Victorian housewife or from an 18th century children’s rhyme? After all, the landscape of daily life has changed dramatically. These days, dinner in many households is more likely to be a take-out meal from the local fast food restaurant than a pot roast cooked at home. Housecleaning and laundry are done during odd moments stolen between more pressing obligations and usually only after the family has depleted its store of clean shirts. And in a world devoted to wrinkle-free miracle fabrics, who irons?
Most modern American families no longer grow our own food, other than what we produce in small hobby gardens. Unlike the household of the Victorian era, or even the 1950s, few households have a full-time homemaker with time to mend hems and bake her own bread. Have we jettisoned the need for planetary wisdom along with our plows and thimbles?
Considering our estrangement from most of nature’s cycles, it’s a bit surprising to find that the answer is no. We may buy our food from supermarkets, clothe ourselves in wash-and-wear shirts, and hire someone to clean our house every couple of weeks, but the planets still have plenty of advice about the best days to do these things. All that’s needed is a bit of invention to align the chores of modern living with the ageless wisdom of the planets.
Monday: Moon’s day.
In the traditional home, Monday was the day for laundry, which is ruled by the Moon. Before the blessed advent of automatic washing machines, it took the whole of the Sabbath for a homemaker to rest up for what was the most physically punishing of her chores. Now machines do most of the hardest work, and the modern homemaker usually wrestles with the laundry basket on the weekend, leaving Monday free for other lunar chores.
With the Moon’s connection to nourishment, Monday is a good day to cook up a large pot of something tasty – soup, say, or spaghetti sauce – that can be frozen and thawed for future dinners. Haul out your old crock-pot and fill it with ingredients that can cook slowly while you’re at work. When you come home, you’ll sit down to a nice, hot bowl of stew and feel as cherished as a child.
Monday, ruled by the nurturing Moon, is also a day for taking care of others. Take a container of your homemade stew to an elderly friend, inscribe a pretty greeting card to a sick relative, or phone your homesick daughter who is away at college.
uesday: Mars’ day.
Mars-ruled Tuesday was set aside for ironing in the traditional home, because Mars has an affinity for heat and metal. If you’re like me, you don’t iron clothes more than a few times a year. But Mars, the warrior planet, can help you untangle knotty problems requiring confrontation and assertiveness. If you’ve put off arguing with the phone company over an erroneous charge, or with the neighbor whose tree limbs are damaging your roof, today is the day to put the heat on them; Mars makes warriors of us all!
Sharp objects and cutting are Mars-ruled, so today is the day to cut the grass, trim your cat’s claws, get a haircut, or sharpen your cooking knives. Mars, with its abundant energy, rewards physical activity; today is the day to begin an exercise program or enjoy your favorite sport.
Wednesday: Mercury’s day.
On Wednesday, the traditional housewife mended clothing. Wednesday is Mercury’s day, and Mercury rules detailed work requiring manual dexterity. Other than replacing the occasional button, few of us today do any real sewing. But communicative, quick-witted Mercury has other useful tools to share.
The students in your home might find that studying and test taking go especially smoothly on Mercury’s day. In the office, use Wednesday to tackle research, write reports, file paperwork, interview new employees, and schedule meetings.
At home, today is the day to catch up on correspondence – letter-writing, email, phone calls; to write short articles or essays; to balance your checkbook; and to run errands in your neighborhood. And don’t forget to fill your gas tank today: Mercury rules cars!
Thursday: Jupiter’s day.
Thursday was marketing day for the traditional homemaker. Jupiter loves to share its prosperity, so today is the day to shop for your household needs (including new socks to replace the ones you didn’t mend yesterday!).
Jupiter compels us to share our thoughts and beliefs, so teaching, lecturing, and writing for publication are favored on this day. Jupiter also represents unfamiliar people, places, and things. Today is the day to try a new kind of ethnic restaurant or go to a gathering, such as a class or club meeting, where you are likely to meet new people.
Jupiter enjoys the outdoors, so try to schedule a walk or bike ride on Thursday. Failing that, eat your lunch outdoors!
Friday: Venus’ day.
Friday was cleaning day for the traditional homemaker, perhaps in homage to Venus’ urge for beautiful and harmonious surroundings. But Venus also describes the ability to attract what you want. Why not combine the two? Often, I perform a simple energy-clearing ritual on Friday. This begins with light cleaning, mostly clearing clutter in anticipation of a major cleaning on Saturday. I smudge with a sage wand, light some candles, open all the windows, and offer a quick request to Venus to bless our home with love, harmony, prosperity, and good friends.
With its connection to beauty, Friday is a good day to indulge in a manicure, pedicure, or facial treatment. Appropriately for Venus’ day, Friday is popular for dating. Along with your other pre-date preparations, consider honoring Venus with a quick and simple ritual. Set up a small altar with a flower, a candle, and some sweet offering, such as a cookie. Light your candle, state your intentions for the evening, and visualize a warm, pleasant evening.
Saturday: Saturn’s day.
The traditional homemaker baked on Saturday so that fresh bread would be available for the Sabbath, when no cooking could be done. I love to bake when the weather is cool, but it does require more Saturnine time and patience than the typical harried homemaker has to spare.
Saturn rewards hard work and stiffens the spine for unappealing chores. That’s why I’ve chosen Saturday for tackling my least-loved tasks, such as washing cars or windows, weeding the garden, and cleaning the refrigerator.
Any kind of hard, physical labor is compatible with Saturn’s energy. If you need to move heavy objects, such as furniture, today is the day you will find the strength for it. Clean your fireplace or till the soil in your garden – and watch Saturn smile.
Sunday: Sun’s day.
Sunday was the traditional “day of rest”, set aside for relaxation, recreation, and worship (the Sun rules creation, re-creation, and the Creator). In our household, Sunday tends to be the day we catch up on sleep, errands, and time with each other. Watching favorite TV programs or movies is a favorite Sunday ritual in our home, often shared with friends.
Today is the day for anything that makes you feel rested. It’s a day for play, which restores physical and creative energy for the week ahead. “A change is as good as a rest,” the old saying goes, and Sundays are often happiest when they are completely different from your usual routine. A trip to a museum, visiting with family, or preparing a special meal, are all excellent ways to honor the Sun’s day.
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A household routine of any kind can help you stay centered. When you know that every task will have its day, you can relax and focus on the day’s work without worrying that you’ve overlooked something important. Instead of rushing around, discovering too late that you’ve forgotten to buy the shampoo, mend the socks, or fill the gas tank, you can instead enjoy the hearth fires of your well-tended home as they blaze comfortingly, contentedly. Planning your household’s activities with the wisdom of planetary tradition is astrology in its most basic and practical form – a way to add a touch of cosmic purpose to a household full of earthly contentment.
Bills, Rex E. (1971). The Rulership Book. American Federation of Astrologers, Inc.
Sur la Lune Fairy Tales (2005). “The Mulberry Bush,” from Nursery Rhyme Minute, by Heidi Anne Heiner.
© 2006 by April Elliott Kent
This article originally appeared in the Llewellyn’s 2007 Moon Sign Book.