Updated: Jul 18
I'm heading to Ireland! Preparations for this trip sent me down a rabbit hole, granting me new insight into the land of my ancestors. We're flying on a full moon which inspired me to research what that meant to the ancient Irish. Amongst other things, this time of the month is associated with prophetic dreams and spiritual journeys.
The Full Moon was considered a highly spiritual time for the Celtic Druids, (the medical professionals, legal authorities, lore keepers, political advisors, and religious leaders). They arranged their calendars by it. It was a day of ceremony and festivity. It was believed that the energy caused by the full moon in all its strength could be overpowering to the human spirit and a person might become over-elated and lose their wits for a while. Such a person was said to have gone ‘le gealaí’ (with the moon). In English we have the word ‘lunatic’ from the Latin for moon, ‘luna’. The word ‘moonstruck’ has the same connotation. Check out any emergency room on a full moon and you'll know the lore is embedded in truth.
In the Celtic tradition, the day begins at dusk as the Moon comes out. Ancient Irish women knew instinctively that nighttime was feminine and they considered the moon the Star of womenfolk. ‘Seanmháthair Gealach’ (pronounced ‘Shan-wa-her Gee-al-yack) as she is known in Irish, meaning Grandmother Moon. She has the power to turn the tides of our planet and her monthly cycles echo women's cycles from puberty to menopause.
March’s full moon falls on the eve of March 7th. It has an energetic influence from the 6th through the 8th. It is the third full moon of the calendar year and is special because it is also the final full moon of the winter - a reminder that winter is nearly over and spring is almost here.
During this period, days continue to lengthen, changing most profoundly around the equinox on March 20. Equinox translates to ‘equal-night’. Occurring in both the Spring and Fall, it marks the time when night and day, darkness and light, are nearly equal in length.
During the Neolithic period, the ancients constructed massive Passage Tombs to celebrate these transitional periods. The tombs contain passageways that are illuminated by the setting sun on Equinoxes and Solstices. Tombs that align with the Spring Equinox have an interesting parallel to what happens above ground when sun warms the soil, awakening dormant life.
We'll be visiting Loughcrew, Knowth, and Newgrange, 5000-year-old passage tombs that predate the Egyptian Pyramids by 300-500 years. Both Knowth and Loughcrew align with the Spring Equinox. Watch this video to witness light flowing into Loughcrew and then slowly moving across ancient petroglyphs at the end of the passage.
The fairies (our magical ancestors, the Tuatha de Dannan) were thought to be particularly active under the light of the full moon. On these brightly illuminated nights, it was believed that fairies who lived under the sea came up onto land to revel and converse with the fairies of Ireland, at fairy mounds, and around hawthorn trees. "Fairy mounds" are actually unexcavated passage tombs and stone circles from 5000+ years ago. Ireland's children are still warned to stay away for fear of being taken by the Fairies. Oral histories that weave together the past and present have preserved these mystical spaces for future generations. Hawthorn trees are one of three sacred Celtic trees. They symbolize fertility and bloom in May. Interestingly, the tree also contains medicinal properties that awaken the body, causing the heart to beat more strongly and regularly.
In the Irish tradition, fairies and mortals lived separate but connected lives. The full moon presented possibilities for association between these two beings. "If you pay attention... you will see magic and wonder everywhere". I'll be tuned in for any possibility.
It is likely that the Spring Equinox was rebranded as Saint Patrick's day, (March 17th), since the early Christian church had a habit of recasting indigenous ceremonies as religious ones. This gives new meaning to the day people around the globe engage in "the wearing of the green". Go ahead, have a pint, wear a shamrock, and sing a bawdy ballad but also use this time to set intentions and cast seeds during this period of new growth and transition.
I'm in the shop tomorrow, Monday the 6th, from 12-5 and then I'm chasing the moon across the Atlantic. The shop will then be open Thursday-Sunday for the next two weeks. My extremely informed employees will be there to guide you and answer your questions. Don't worry, I have been busy making and restocking tinctures, oils, teas, salves, and balms, so there will be plenty when you visit.
Stop in and say Dia dhuit.
Spiral Herbal Remedies is located at 810 Washington Ave in Brooklyn. You can also find everything online at spiralherbalremedies.com
Use the code EQUINOX for 10% off all orders from now through March 20th.