I had a bit of trouble with this challenge at first. In Irish mythology, there is not one specific deity that is associated with the Moon; no one Moon Deity in any of the stories. This could be for a few reasons, and these are my sole speculations, nothing more. Any story of a deity specifically associated with the moon could be lost to time or history. It could also be that there is no specific deity associated with the moon in the historical texts, rather folkloric beliefs may cover that area.
There is one deity in particular that has been posited to be a moon deity, or at least a deity with a connection to the moon. However, there have been no citations or sources found in folklore or mythology that give a hint to this. The only connection to the moon that he might have is with his symbolism, but it has been said he is more likely connected with the Sun than the Moon.
This is the God Elatha (also written as Elotha, Elier, and Elada). He was king of the Fomorians but wed to Ériu, a member of the Tuatha Dé Danaan. Without proper sources and citations, I cannot make a distinction one way or another. There are quotes about him on his Wikipedia page in regard to his appearance and the way he came to Ériu, however, those quotes do not have associated citations and I cannot verify the accuracy of that information. (8)
Image via Unsplash
Instead, I wanted to share some Irish folklore about the moon that I found on Duchas as part of their Manuscript Collection project. If you are not familiar with Duchas, here is a bit of information about it taken directly from their website.
The Dúchas Project
The objective of the project is to initiate the digitization of the National Folklore Collection (NFC) so that:
(i) the public has online access to material from the Collection and
(ii) a data management system is available for NFC to which other material can be added in the future.
- National Folklore Collection, UCD, the National Folklore Foundation and UCD Digital Library
- Gaois, Fiontar & Scoil na Gaeilge, DCU
- Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media
I really enjoy browsing the folklore and writings on Duchas just for fun, but the value it has as a research tool is insurmountable. I have also helped along in the transcription of their English files, too. This is an offering of my time in Brigid’s name.
When you see the moon over your right shoulder, you will have good luck.
When the moon is on its back, it is a sign of bad weather.
The first time you see a new moon, you have a wish.
Count your money and you will get more according as the moon gets full.
Make no promise to the new moon if you do not intend to keep it, for the moon is loaded with broken promises.
When a circle is near the moon, it is further from rain.
When a circle is further from the moon, it is closer to rain.
When the moon is on its back with sharp points, it is a sign of rain.
When there is a circle around the moon, it is a sign of bad weather.
When a new moon comes on a Saturday, it is a sign that the following month will be wet.
When a new moon shows “too soon”, it is a sign of bad weather.
A fog on the last quarter of the moon is a sign of bad weather.
“The moon and the weather may change together, but the change in the moon will be no change in the weather.”
To see white clouds around the moon is a sign of snow.
This one was interesting because it is a simple prayer to the new moon nestled amongst Christian prayers. It just goes to show how many folk practices, especially that of Ireland, are steeped in Catholicism.
When the new moon is seen first the people say “I see the moon; she sees me. God bless the new moon and God bless me”. They also say "New moon, true moon, trusty and true, this is all I ask of you: health, wealth, heaven at last.
Again, there seems to be a lot of folklore surrounding the new moon, even from my quick perusal of Duchas. Here is one that talks about new moon expectations.
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. (4)
And yet another talks of seeing the new moon for the first time in glass being unlucky!
To see the new moon for the first time through glass is unlucky. (5)
Yet another person has said that a common belief about the moon in their location (Coornagillagh, Co. Kerry, as far as I can tell). I almost wonder if this particular belief has a deeper folklore connected to mythology or the geographical location that is not written about. I would be very interested in hearing more about this one!
The pig sees the new moon the first night, the horse the second & the human being the third. Common belief about the moon here. (6)
Lastly, I want to leave you with this little funny story that someone wrote about the moon.
Once upon a time there was a little boy who said he would hide the moon. One morning he went out and brought a bucket of water with him. Then he went over the field and began to fling the water up at the moon. In a few minutes he had him self drowned with water but he was not able to hide the moon.
Looking over all of this folklore, it is interesting to see some of the correlations between how many of us view the moon phases in our magick. For example, the folklore about making wishes to the new moon. This directly matches up with my practice of making wishes on the new moon, or at least setting intentions and doing specific work for bringing new things into my life. The moon has captivated people for centuries and it will continue to do so.
I wonder what sort of folklore we will leave behind for future generations in regard to the moon. What do you think?
(1) Weather-Lore | dúchas.ie
(2) Weather-Lore | dúchas.ie
(3) Prayers | dúchas.ie
(4) Teampull Dubhglaise | The Schools’ Collection | dúchas.ie
(5) Allenwood | The Schools’ Collection | dúchas.ie
(6) Landsdowne (Cuar na gCoileach) | The Schools’ Collection | dúchas.ie
(7) A Funny Story | dúchas.ie
(8) Elatha - Wikipedia
Continuing the discussion from Weekly Witchy CHALLENGE - Deities of the Moon