About The Goddess Cailleach October 31 – Novenber

Cailleach

October 31 – November 27

In Irish and Scottish mythology, the Cailleach, Irish plural cailleacha [ˈkalʲəxə], Scottish Gaelic plural cailleachan /kaʎəxən/), also known as the Cailleach Bheur, is a divine hag, a creatrix, and possibly an ancestral deity or deified ancestor. The word Cailleach means ‘hag’ in modern Scottish Gaelic, and has been applied to numerous mythological figures in Ireland, Scotland and the Isle of Man.

In Scotland, where she is also known as Beira, Queen of Winter, she is credited with making numerous mountains and large hills, which are said to have been formed when she was striding across the land and accidentally dropped rocks from her apron. In other cases she is said to have built the mountains intentionally, to serve as her stepping stones. She carries a hammer for shaping the hills and valleys, and is said to be the mother of all the goddesses and gods.

The Cailleach displays several traits befitting the personification of Winter: she herds deer, she fights Spring, and her staff freezes the ground.

In partnership with the goddess Brìghde, the Cailleach is seen as a seasonal deity or spirit, ruling the winter months between Samhainn (1 November or first day of winter) and Bealltainn (1 May or first day of summer), while Brìghde rules the summer months between Bealltainn and Samhainn. Some interpretations have the Cailleach and Brìghde as two faces of the same goddess, while others describe the Cailleach as turning to stone on Bealltainn and reverting back to humanoid form on Samhainn in time to rule over the winter months. Depending on local climate, the transfer of power between the winter goddess and the summer goddess is celebrated any time between Là Fhèill Brìghde (1 February) at the earliest, Latha na Cailliche (25 March), or Bealltainn (1 May) at the latest, and the local festivals marking the arrival of the first signs of spring may be named after either the Cailleach or Brìghde.

Là Fhèill Brìghde is also the day the Cailleach gathers her firewood for the rest of the winter. Legend has it that if she intends to make the winter last a good while longer, she will make sure the weather on 1 February is bright and sunny, so she can gather plenty of firewood to keep herself warm in the coming months.As a result, people are generally relieved if Là Fhèill Brìghde is a day of foul weather, as it means the Cailleach is asleep, will soon run out of firewood, and therefore winter is almost over. On the Isle of Man, where She is known as Caillagh ny Groamagh, the Cailleach is said to have been seen on St. Bride’s day in the form of a gigantic bird, carrying sticks in her beak.

In Scotland, the Cailleachan (lit. ‘old women’) are also known as The Storm Hags, and seen as personifications of the elemental powers of nature, especially in a destructive aspect. They are said to be particularly active in raising the windstorms of spring, during the period known as A’ Chailleach.

On the west coast of Scotland, the Cailleach ushers in winter by washing her great plaid (Gaelic: féileadh mòr) in the Whirlpool of Coire Bhreacain. This process is said to take three days, during which the roar of the coming tempest is heard as far away as twenty miles (32 km) inland. When she is finished, her plaid is pure white and snow covers the land.

In Scotland and Ireland, the first farmer to finish the grain harvest made a corn dolly, representing the Cailleach (also called “the Carlin or Carline”), from the last sheaf of the crop. The figure would then be tossed into the field of a neighbor who had not yet finished bringing in their grain. The last farmer to finish had the responsibility to take in and care for the corn dolly for the next year, with the implication they’d have to feed and house the hag all winter. Competition was fierce to avoid having to take in the Old Woman.

Some scholars believe the Old Irish poem, ‘The Lament of the Old Woman of Beare’ is about the Cailleach; Kuno Meyer states, ‘…she had fifty foster-children in Beare. She had seven periods of youth one after another, so that every man who had lived with her came to die of old age, and her grandsons and great-grandsons were tribes and races.

Etymology

The word cailleach (in modern Irish and Scottish Gaelic, ‘old woman’) comes from the Old Irish caillech (‘veiled one’), an adjectival form of Old Irish caille “veil”, an early loan from Latin pallium (‘cloak’, an ecclesiastical garment worn by nuns; displaying the expected p > c change of early loans).  The word is found as a component in terms like the Gaelic cailleach-dhubh (‘nun’) and cailleach-oidhche (‘owl’), as well as the Irish cailleach feasa (‘wise woman’, ‘fortune-teller’) and cailleach phiseogach (‘sorceress’, ‘charm-worker’).

Related words include the Gaelic caileag (‘young woman’, ‘girl] and the Lowland Scots carline/carlin (‘old woman’, ‘witch’). A more obscure word that is sometimes interpreted as ‘hag’ is the Irish síle, which has led some to speculate on a connection between the Cailleach and the stonecarvings of Sheela na Gigs.

Locations associated with the Cailleach

Ireland

In Ireland she is also associated with craggy, prominent mountains and outcroppings, such as Hag’s Head (Irish: Ceann Caillí, meaning “hag’s head”) the southernmost tip of the Cliffs of Moher in County Clare. The megalithic tombs at Loughcrew in County Meath are situated atop Slieve na Calliagh (Irish: Sliabh na Caillí, meaning “the hag’s mountain”) and include a kerbstone known as “the hag’s chair”. Cairn T on Slieve na Calliagh is a classic passage tomb, in which the rays of the equinox sunrise shine down the passageway and illuminate an inner chamber filled with megalithic stonecarvings.

Scotland

The Cailleach is prominent in the landscape of Argyll and Bute, Scotland. In later tales she is known as the Cailleach nan Cruachan (“the witch of Ben Cruachan”). Ben Cruachan is the tallest mountain in the region. Tea-towels and postcards of her are sold in the visitor shop for the Hollow Mountain, which also features a mural depicting her accidental creation of Loch Awe.

Legend has it that the Cailleach was tired from a long day herding deer. Atop Ben Cruachan she fell asleep on her watch and a well she was tending overflowed, running down from the highlands and flooding the valleys below, forming first a river and then the loch.The overflowing well is a common motif in local Gaelic creation tales – as seen in the goddess Boann’s similar creation of the River Boyne in Ireland. Other connections to the region include her above-mentioned strong ties with the fierce whirlpool in the Gulf of Corryvreckan.

Beinn na Caillich on the Isle of Skye is one of her haunts, as are other mountains which are prominent in the landscape, and from which fierce storms of sleet and rain descend, wreaking havoc and destruction upon the lands below.

There is a Glen Cailleach which joins to Glen Lyon in Perthshire. The glen has a stream named Alt nan Cailleach. This area is famous for a pagan ritual which according to legend is associated to the Cailleach. There is a small Shieling in the Glen, known as either Tigh nan Cailleach or Tigh nam Bodach, which houses a series of apparently carved stones. These stones, according to local legend, represent the Cailleach her husband the Bodach and their children.

The local legend suggests that the Cailleach and her family were given shelter in the glen by the locals and while they stayed there the glen was always fertile and prosperous. When they left they gave the stones to the locals with the promise that as long as the stones were put out to look over the glen at Beltane and put back into the shelter and made secure for the winter at Samhain then the glen would continue to be fertile.

This ritual is still carried out to this day.

 

Reference:

The Wikipedia

Deity of the Day for Monday, June 11 – Cailleach

 Deity of the Day

 

Cailleach

In Irish and Scottish mythology, the Cailleach (Irish pronunciation: [ˈkalʲəx], Irish plural cailleacha [ˈkalʲəxə], Scottish Gaelic plural cailleachan /kaʎəxən/), also known as the Cailleach Bheur, is a divine hag, a creatrix, and possibly an ancestral deity or deified ancestor. The word Cailleach means ‘hag’ in modern Scottish Gaelic, and has been applied to numerous mythological figures in Ireland, Scotland and the Isle of Man

In Scotland, where she is also known as Beira, Queen of Winter, she is credited with making numerous mountains and large hills, which are said to have been formed when she was striding across the land and accidentally dropped rocks from her apron. In other cases she is said to have built the mountains intentionally, to serve as her stepping stones. She carries a hammer for shaping the hills and valleys, and is said to be the mother of all the goddesses and gods.

The Cailleach displays several traits befitting the personification of Winter: she herds deer, she fights Spring, and her staff freezes the ground.

In partnership with the goddess Brìghde, the Cailleach is seen as a seasonal deity or spirit, ruling the winter months between Samhainn (Wintermas or first day of winter) and Bealltainn (Summermas or first day of summer), while Brìghde rules the summer months between Bealltainn and Samhainn. Some interpretations have the Cailleach and Brìghde as two faces of the same goddess, while others describe the Cailleach as turning to stone on Bealltainn and reverting back to humanoid form on Samhainn in time to rule over the winter months. Depending on local climate, the transfer of power between the winter goddess and the summer goddess is celebrated any time between Là Fhèill Brìghde (February 1) at the earliest, Latha na Cailliche (March 25), or Bealltainn (May 1) at the latest, and the local festivals marking the arrival of the first signs of spring may be named after either the Cailleach or Brìghde.

She intends to make the winter last a good while longer, she will make sure the weather on February 1 is bright and sunny, so she can gather plenty of firewood to keep herself warm in the coming months. As a result, people are generally relieved if February 1 is a day of foul weather, as it means the Cailleach is asleep, will soon run out of firewood, and therefore winter is almost over. On the Isle of Man, where She is known as Caillagh ny Groamagh, the Cailleach is said to have been form of a gigantic bird, carrying sticks in her beak.

In Scotland, the Cailleachan (lit. ‘old women’) were also known as The Storm Hags, and seen as personifications of the elemental powers of nature, especially in a destructive aspect. They were said to be particularly active in raising the windstorms of spring, during the period known as A’ Chailleach.

On the west coast of Scotland, the Cailleach ushers in winter by washing her great plaid in the Whirlpool of Coire Bhreacain. This process is said to take three days, during which the roar of the coming tempest is heard as far away as twenty miles (32 km) inland. When she is finished, her plaid is pure white and snow covers the land.

In Scotland and Ireland, the first farmer to finish the grain harvest made a corn dolly, representing the Cailleach (also called “the Carlin or Carline”), from the last sheaf of the crop. The figure would then be tossed into the field of a neighbor who had not yet finished bringing in their grain. The last farmer to finish had the responsibility to take in and care for the corn dolly for the next year, with the implication they’d have to feed and house the hag all winter. Competition was fierce to avoid having to take in the Old Woman.

Some scholars believe the Old Irish poem, ‘The Lament of the Old Woman of Beare’ is about the Cailleach; Kuno Meyer states, ‘…she had fifty foster-children in Beare. She had seven periods of youth one after another, so that every man who had lived with her came to die of old age, and her grandsons and great-grandsons were tribes and races.

A Samhain Meditation for your Ancestors

A Samhain Meditation for your Ancestors

A journey of Memory and what it means to face Death..

We’re going on a journey, that you may find difficult. If at any time, you feel you do not wish to continue, please wait quietly, then turn to the south, and you will see a path leading back to the safety of your grove.

Make yourself comfortable, and breathe slowly from your stomach, and clear your mind of all disturbing thoughts.

Enter your sacred grove and stand in the EAST, for you are beginning a journey of memory. Allow yourself to absorb the peace and tranquillity of your space. You hear a beating of wings and feel the touch of cold air on your face. A Raven flies around you, leading you NORTH-WEST, where it alights on a gate and waits, its coal black eyes watching you. Walk towards the gate and stop. Do not fear the Raven, for it is another aspect of the Cailleach. She comes to you now, to guide you. Put your hand on the gate and open it. As you walk through, cast back in your memory to when you were a baby, a young child and remember something good about that time.

Walk through. There is nothing before you but a black, empty void. Do not be afraid. The Raven flies ahead of you, drawing you on.

As the gate closes behind you, remember when you were at school. As you remember, follow the Raven into the darkness until you come to another gate. Place your hand on this gate, and remember the good times of your school days, and when you were a teenager.

Open the gate, and walk through. There is nothing before you, but a black, empty void. Do not be afraid. Allow the Raven to be your guide.

As the gate closes behind you, remember your first job, your first love. Walk slowly forward into the darkness, remembering the feeling that you had when you left your home for the first time. The Raven circles you and leads you to another gate. Place your hand upon this gate and remember the agony of your first love, the apprehension you felt on your first day at work.

Open the gate and walk through. Before you is dark, a black empty void. Do not be afraid. Let the Raven guide you, for you are not alone.

As the gate closes behind you, remember the first little sparrow that you ever saw; the first notes of a blackbird’s song in the twilight; the first buttercup that you held beneath your chin; the first drop of rain on your face, and the first breath of wind in your hair. Remember the blue sky and the golden sun, the silvery moon and the cotton wool clouds skimming overhead. Walk slowly forward into the darkness, hearing the beat of the Raven’s wings, until you come to another gate.

Place your hand upon this gate and remember the seasons as they changed throughout your life; how each season affected your moods and your emotions; how the snows covered the earth, and the frost killed off the autumn flowers.

The Raven sits on the gate, looking at you. Now you will know and understand that Death is all around us. The death of a bird from the scattered feathers on a lawn, the dying breeze as the clouds move onwards. The Death of the sun as it sinks in the West and its re-birth each morning in the East. Seeds planted to bring new Life, yet they come from the death of the flower or nut. Death is in the seasons, as each gives way to the next. Death is part of Life, as the old gives way to the new.

Open the gate and walk through. Before you is dark, a black empty void. Do not be afraid, for the Raven flies beside you.

In the distance you see a door, of shimmering colours. STOP! Do not touch it. Do not open it. Do not approach it at this time, for this is the final gateway that each of us will pass through, when our time comes. It is not yet.

Now turn around slowly, and gaze back through the gates that you have opened and passed through. You will see a silvery line of footprints that mark your journey through life. And if you look past the very first gate, you will see other silvery lines, footprints that belong to your ancestors. Each gate was a death. An ending of a way of life for you, and each gate was the beginning. Think about Death, not in a morbid way, but as a positive beginning that we must all face. Each has a purpose in Life, and each will have a purpose in Death. Live your Life to its fullest because your Ancestors made it possible. And when your time comes, know that it is not the end, but the beginning of a new existence.

When you are able to accept this, then the Cailleach will be able to give you her wisdom and help you through Life. When you can face Death with a free will, then you will be able to live Life to its fullest, for you will be free of Death’s burden.

Look around for the Raven, it is flying SOUTH, where you see a sunlit path leading back to your grove. If you have stopped along the way at any point, do not worry, for you will now see a sunlit path leading SOUTH back to the safety of your Sacred Grove.

When you are comfortably back in your Grove, relax, become aware of your surroundings. As you return to the present time, think about your memories, and consider whether there is anything you should have done. Something that needs finished; perhaps a quarrel that needs to be mended; or saying thank you to someone who has done a kindness. Life is there to be lived, but remember, none of us knows how many gates we will be allowed to open, before we reach the Door beyond. Only the Cailleach knows these things.

 
by Ailim, 2003
 
This article comes from Raven Moonlight Book of Shadows
http://ravenmoonlight.com/bos