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Celtic Moon and Shadow

The sun governs much about the way we mark time. From our daily routine that is accompanied by its 24-hour cycle of rising and setting to the year-long journey our planet makes around this shining star – the powerful sun rules supreme. However, it is the moon, the light that rules the night that has captured the Celtic imagination in stories of magic and romance. The moon is the gentle Queen that softens our vision with pure reflective light. The moon invites our gaze and contemplation.

By the Light of the Silvery Moon

Earth’s moon has long been associated with the feminine, having its own monthly cycle that exerts some influence on bodies of water below. The three visible stages of the moon that dance across the sky each month are linked with the three phases of womanhood: the waxing moon aligns with youthful vigor and growth, the full moon of blossoming motherhood and the waning moon with the attainment of wisdom and entering rest. The three faces of the triple goddess or Moon Goddess; maiden, mother and crone.

The Ebb and the Flow of the Celtic Moon

The Full Moon marks the two-fold division of the month into a bright (waxing) half and a dark (waning) half. The moon will be full again on July 16th, and if you’re in the Southern Hemisphere that day, you can see a partial lunar eclipse. The Full Moon marked the day of festivals for the ancients. Even now, the date for Christian Easter is set according to the moon. There are auspicious days for planting, if you follow the moon signs. As the Celts were ocean-going people, they paid special attention to the tides and easily recognized the influence of the moon on them. 

As it was,
As it is,
As it shall be
With the ebb,
With the flow
(from the Carmina Gadelica, collected by Alexander Carmichael in Scotland 1860-1909)

Honey Mead for your Honeymoon

Originally, the “honeymoon" was the month following a wedding, when the bride's father would give the couple enough mead (honey liquor) to last for one moon cycle. Interestingly, the Babylonian calendar was a lunar calendar, so the Babylonians started calling it "honey month" but we now call it a "honeymoon.” You can sample Bushmills Irish Honey in our Whiskey Snug, whether you’re happy to be married or otherwise.

A partial lunar eclipse captured in North Carolina 

Poteen: Celtic Moonshine 

Poitín, anglicized as potcheen, poteen or potheen, is a traditional Irish distilled home brew. Poitín was usually distilled in a small pot still and the term is a diminutive of the Irish word pota, meaning "pot". Back in the day, this Irish Moonshine had an alcohol content of 60-90%. Like American Moonshine, it was illegal for a very long time. “Moonshine” referred to the brewing being done after dark, by the light of the moon. But it is now brewed legally with a kindlier 40-60 proof. And once in a Blue Moon, you can find a bottle of it in the Whiskey Snug.

Lori McAlister
Wrangler of Cultural Affairs