Spring Equinox: Honoring Loughcrew & the Cailleach

Spring equinox has been honored in Ireland for over 5000 years. Learn about this ancient festival through the archeology & folklore of Loughcrew.


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Spring Equinox: Honoring Loughcrew & the Cailleach

Spring equinox has been honored in Ireland for over 5000 years. Learn about this ancient festival through the archeology & folklore of Loughcrew.

In the northern hemisphere, the spring equinox is the exact moment when night and day are in equal balance

This day marks the first day of spring; a time of new beginnings, sacred balance, and the union of polarities. After the equinox, we move into the light half of the year. 

In Irish, the spring equinox is known as Cónocht an Earraigh and has been honored in Ireland for over 5,000 years. We know this because of a sacred site in County Meath known as Loughcrew, which is an extensive collection of megalithic passage tombs that date back to Neolithic times.

The entrances and passageways of the burial mounds at this site align with the eight festivals around the Irish wheel of the year; the solstices, equinoxes and cross-quarter days…including (you guessed it) the spring equinox. This is the only known site in Ireland that honors all eight festivals, which is essentially an ancient agricultural calendar made from stone.

I invite you to imagine life for our ancient ancestors millennia ago, going all the way back to Neolithic times (4,000 – 2,500 BCE). The Neolithic people were Ireland’s first farmers, who built stone monuments like Loughcrew that are still standing today.

Imagine that in the long nights of winter, huddled together with their loved ones against the cold, the ancestors wondered, “Will we have enough food to last until spring? Will our people survive?” And when spring came, hope bloomed as they celebrated the renewed fertility of the land, which meant that food was coming.

Throughout the Irish traditions, the land is generally perceived as being feminine in nature, personified by ancient goddesses. One of these goddesses is the Cailleach, who many relate to as the Grandmother of Ireland. She’s an old crone and a giant who shapes the land (either on purpose or by accident) and she’s associated with the season of winter.

Sliabh na Callí is the Irish name for Loughcrew, and is sacred to the Cailleach

In folklore, she’s said to be responsible for creating the monuments here, which came about because she was trying to perform a spell. She hopped from hill to hill to make the spell work, and had an apron filled with stones. Some of the stones fell out of her apron, and formed the cairns (burial mounds) on the hilltops.

One of the stones on Sliabh na Callí is called The Hag’s Chair because it resembles a giant throne:

This stone is part of the burial mound known today as “Cairn T”, which aligns with the sunrise on the spring and autumn equinoxes. I think of the Hag’s Chair as the throne of the Cailleach, symbolizing her rulership over the season of winter. 

For this reason, it’s very interesting that the Cailleach is associated with the equinoxes. Between the qutumn equinox and Samhain, the power of the Cailleach is rising. Samhain is the time when her rulership begins, as the goddess of winter. And then between Imbolg and spring equinox, the power of the Cailleach is waning.

I like to imagine the spring equinox as the time when the Cailleach steps down from her throne, from the Hag’s Chair, as the reign of winter officially comes to an end, and the maiden goddesses come forward to welcome in the spring.

In my personal experience of spring equinox, this is the time of the maiden and of initiation, when the energies of the earth are rebirthing and reawakening. This is a time to shake off the cobwebs of winter, release what no longer serves us, and seed our dreams and longings into reality as we enter the active time of the year.

If you choose to celebrate the spring equinox this year, I lovingly invite you to remember the Cailleach; grandmother of winter, grandmother of the stones, grandmother of Ireland.

If you'd like to learn more about the Irish traditions...

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How to claim your place in your lineage…in reverent ways that unleash your fierce sovereignty.


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Meet Tara

My name is Tara Brading and my passion is connecting women to the wisdom of their ancestors, specializing in ancestral feminine wisdom traditions from Ireland & England.


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