Search This Blog

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Moon of Blessings

"When I see the new moon,
It becomes me to lift my eyes
It becomes me to bend my knee
It becomes me to bow mt head
Giving you praise, you moon of guidance,
That I have seen you again,
That I have seen the new moon,
The lovely leader of the way.

 Many a one has passed beyond
In the time between the two moons,
Though I am still enjoying earth,
You moon of moons and of blessings!"
- the Silver Bough

  There is no evidence that the Celts had a particular deity associated with the moon, as far as I have ever seen, but there are many little charms and prayers, like this one form McNeill's Silver Bough, volume 1, that praise the moon and it's blessings. It was traditional in several areas of Scotland and the outer Islands to make certain gestures towards the new moon when it was first seen in the sky each month, as Carmichael notes in volume one of his work,
    "When they first see the new moon they make obeisance to it as a great chief. The women curtsey gracefully and the men bow low, raising  their bonnets reverently. The bow of the men is peculiar, partaking somewhat of the curtsey of the women the left knee being bent and the right drawn forward towards the middle of the left leg in a curious but not inelegent manner.
     In Cornwall the people nod to the new moon and turn silver in their pockets. In Edinburgh cultured men and women turn the rings on their fingers and make their wishes. A young English lady told the writer that she had always been in the habit of bowing to the new moon, till she had been bribed out of it by her father, a clergyman, putting money in her pocket lest her lunar worship should compromise him with his Bishop. She naively confessed, however, that among the free mountains of Loch Etive she reverted to the good customs of her fathers, from which she derived great satisfaction!" (Carmichael, pp 123-124, 1900).

     Last night I spotted the first sliver of new moon, breifly as the clouds cleared and then closed in again. I felt my heart lift to see that shining silver crescent hanging there, promising another month of moonlight and I said the prayer from the Silver Bough. I found myself feeling a sort of kinship with my ancestors who must have seen that light each month with the same feeling of promise, felt even more strongly since, without elecrtic lights, they would have relied on the moon far more than we do today. So I prayed and spun my rings on my fingers and I thought about the power of these little things to make me feel connected to my spirituality and to my ancestors. Every month I find myself searching the sky for the new moon until I see it and when I do my heart always lifts at the sight and a little prayer falls from lips, almost of its own accord.
   When people think of bringing back or reconstructing the old pagan ways of different cultures many seem to go automatically to the big things, the seasonal rites, worshipping the Gods, rites of passage, but it is the little things, the daily things, that really matter the most because these are the backbone of living the faith, I think.

Carmichael, M., (1900). Carmina Gadelica. Retrieved from
McNeill, F., (1956). The Silver Bough, volume 1. Canongate Classics


  1. "There is no evidence that the Celts had a particular deity associated with the moon, as far as I have ever seen"

    In Scél Mucci Mic Da Thó "The Story of the Pig of the Son of the Silent (?) God", there is mentioned a Bruiden Mic Da Réo "Hall of the Son of the Moon God" as one of the five or six (different versions) fairy halls in Ireland.

  2. Very interesting. It's a shame we don't have more than that, but I'll have to look for a copy of Scél Mucci Mic Da Thó ...

  3. Here you go. Chances are, though, that you already have it in a collection. For instance, it is in Gantz's Early Irish Myths and Sagas.