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It’s always fascinating to take a dive into the School’s Collection on Dúchas.ie, and looking for moon folklore there is no exception.

Any form of magic or Irish Witchcraft will benefit from aligning with the cycles of the moon, and it seems like every Irish farmer and householder through the 1900s (at least) knew how to do that.

Online Class for Beginners: Draíocht – Foundations in Irish Magic

Here are some examples of authentic Moon Folklore in Ireland:

The new moon has many beliefs concerning it. It is unlucky if you hear from a woman of the appearance of a new moon. To see the new moon for the first time through trees or glass is a sign of bad luck during that month. If the new moon crescent is lying on its back it is a sign of bad weather.

The Schools’ Collection, Volume 0258, Page 007

My Granda always told me to step outside and find the new moon in the sky, and I guess the belief about it being unlucky to catch a glimpse of it by accident through a window or through the trees, would be why. A sign of respect and acknowledgement, perhaps?

The Lore of the Moon

– When farmers kill pigs for the use of the household, they wait for a new moon or kill with the growth of the moon, and never when the moon is on the wane.
– Meat of pigs killed with the growth of the moons swells “in the boil”.
– Meat killed with the wane of the moon shrinks “in the boil”.
– Farmers like to set their corn with the growth of the new moon.
– Scollops for thatching are cut and pointed with the growth of the new moon.
– When the moon is, new potatoes are taken out of the ground in Autumn.
– Potatoes are planted with the new moon.
– My Grandfather says you should cut your hair with the wane of the moon.

The Schools’ Collection, Volume 0500, Page 627

The following poem was taught to me by my Granda, and repeated often by my Mam, as we grew up in Dublin in the 1980s.

When you see the new moon you should say…
I see the new moon
And the new moon sees me
God bless the new moon
And God bless me

The Schools’ Collection, Volume 1104, Page 81

Here is a fuller account of ‘the moon and the crops’, from County Mayo, which includes references to the Irish Sidhe or Fairies…

The people of this district say that the potatoes are not ripe to dig until the first harvest moons full. Sometimes it happens the harvest moon is late and does not be full until late in August. The people then say that the potatoes will be bad for eating because the stalks were watered before they got the harvest moon. But if the harvest moon is early in August the potatoes will be good. This shows that the harvest moon reopens the potatoes. It also ripens the oats very quickly. If the harvest moon is in it while the oats is been cut is said to hasten the grain.


Some people say that the moon has an effect on peoples minds. People with a weak mind goes silly when there is a full moon. If the new moon is on its back that’s a sure sign of rain but if it stands upright that is a sign of fine weather. It is said to be very unlucky to see the new moon through glass and it is considered lucky to see the new moon over the right shoulder.


When you see the new moon for the first time you should bless yourself and say “Go mbei mis seo and tam seo aris” and wish for something and it would come true. If the new moon is pale with a ring around it that is a sign of rain. If you are working when you see the new moon you will be at that work for a long time. If the new moon appears soon in the sky is the sign of rain. If the new moon is red in the sky it is a sure sign of wind. Sometimes the moon is seen to travel quickly through the sky but it is the clouds passing over it. The harvest moon is said to gather the […] cabbage.


On a bright moonlight night the fairies are said to be out singing and dancing. While the moon is filling it is a good time for fishing but while it is going back you will hardly catch any fish at all.

The Schools’ Collection, Volume 0125, Page 427

Moon Folklore Recap

The above account notwithstanding, as it particularly references the Harvest Moon, we don’t really hear much about the full moon – relative to the other phases – when looking at the traditional moon lore here. To sum up the general beliefs illustrated above, according to moon folklore in Ireland…

  • The new moon is for new projects, planting seeds, setting ideas or plans in motion
  • The waxing moon will increase or swell whatever is started with the new.
  • The waning moon will decrease or shrink anything, and is a good time to shed the old or unwanted.

There is a particular tradition of money magic with the new moon, based on the following:

“Whatever you have in your hand when you see the new moon first; you will have plenty of that before the next new moon comes.”

The Schools’ Collection, Volume 1104, Page 81

All quotes on this page courtesy of Dúchas.ie. Image and data © National Folklore Collection, UCD.


Where To Now?

If you think that the moon folklore in Ireland is interesting, and might even be something you’d like to explore further, you can always:

Visit the Irish Pagan School YouTube Channel

Or… Take a Class on The Moon in Irish Tradition!


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5 thoughts on “Moon Folklore in Ireland

  1. Thank you for this and I am excited to take The Foundations in Magic class that is offered. I was wondering how this would be said, so that I may say it correctly. “Go mbei mis seo and tam seo aris”

    When you see the new moon for the first time you should bless yourself and say “Go mbei mis seo and tam seo aris” and wish for something and it would come true.

    Thank you
    Tara

  2. Interesting read, thanks for sharing that. My Ma used to get upset at us kids seeing the new moon through glass. She was very much a follower of the moon. She would tell us to go outside to view it and to make a wish.

  3. What I find particularly interesting about the lore is that much of it– well, the parts about crop care–were told by my grandfather, who came to the US from northern Italy early in the 1900’s.

    Also, I happen to be embarking on new projects now– hooray for the auspiciousness!

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