Featured Art - The Cailleach

The Veiled One

Legends suggest her early connection with the landscape. Known in both Ireland and Scotland, she may be viewed as the oldest of the ancestral goddesses and as a Goddess of Sovereignty. Cailleach translates as “Hag” and has been depicted as an old woman, sometimes with only one eye. The Cailleach may in fact be a title, not an individual. She is a goddess of winter and preparation for it, as well as a goddess of storms and the wilderness.

There are many stories tied to The Cailleach. She is said to have dropped stones from her apron across Ireland as she flew over, thus creating numerous stone monuments. She turned a destructive bull into a green stone. Sometimes mean, she was used as a threat to teach children proper behavior. The Cliffs of Moher have been called Hags Head tied to her. A 9th or 10th Century poem titled The Old Woman of Beare describes her in her own words.

In my interpretation of The Cailleach, I used an interesting piece of cedar that I found on the forest floor. The outstretched arms represent her sovereignty over the land. I wood-burned her name/title in Ogam on the edge as was done on ancient stones. I added a hag stone (naturally occurring hole) that I obtained from a friend in the UK. Hanging, it represents her and her ownership of the wind. The stone leaning against her comes from near the Cliffs of Moher to which she was connected. Bits of yew, hazel, rowan and hawthorn, and her name in Ogam have been included. Her “face” is a chrysacolla stone. The beautiful color of this stone reminds me of a healthy blue and green planet. Among other things, Chrysacolla is said to promote inner wisdom and new beginnings, both of which make sense with the Cailleach. It is also tied to the empowerment of feminine energy and the divine female. Pieces of kyanite on her arms represents balance and calming, offsets to the powerful and potentially dangerous Cailleach.

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