Tag Archive: hag


Goddess Cailleach Bheur

"The Cailleach Bhuer" by ~AltaraTheDark

“The Cailleach Bhuer” by ~AltaraTheDark

“Cailleach Bheur’s themes are balance, cycles, rebirth, overcoming and winter. Her symbols are snow and blue items. In Scottish traditions, this is a blue faced crone Goddess who blusters with power throughout the winter months. She brings the snow and cold until the wheel of time turns toward spring on Beltane (May Day).

Just as darkness seems to be winning, the Crone Goddess stirs in the earth’s womb and inspires hope. She knows that the time for rebirth as a young woman will come in spring, when She will fertilize the earth. For now, however, the first step is renewing the sun, whose light will begin to get stronger.

Since this Goddess is one of cold honesty, wear something blue today to encourage personal reserve, control, and truth with yourself throughout the day.

In keeping with the themes of the Winter Solstice, you could try this mini-ritual:

In the morning, cover your altar or a table with a yellow cloth (maybe a napkin or placemat) to represent the sun. Place a blue candle in a central location on the table, along with a bowl of snow to represent Cailleach Bheur and winter. As the candle burns with the light of the sun, the wax shrinks and this Goddess’s snows melt, giving away once more to the power of warmth and light.

Keep the remnant was and re-melt it for any spells in which you need a cooler head. Pour the water from the snow outside to rejoin the Goddess.”

(Patricia Telesco, “365 Goddess: a daily guide to the magic and inspiration of the goddess”.)

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Well, the Cailleach has appropriately blessed us with Her presence yesterday and overnight here in Upstate New York!  Now, it’s beginning to look like a real North Country holiday season!  It was quite inspiring while researching Her and I was able to find a TON of great info that I listed in the “Suggested Links” at the bottom for you to browse through at your own leisure.

"Cailleach" by Mairin-Taj Caya

“Cailleach” by Mairin-Taj Caya

Patricia Monaghan had this to write about Cailleach: “Her name, pronounced correctly, sounds like clearing her throat, but ‘coyluck’ is a near approximation.  One of the world’s Great Goddesses, She went by many names: Cailleach Bheur or Carlin in Scotland; Cally Berry in northern Ireland; Cailleach ny Groamch on the Isle of Man; Black Annis in Britain; the Hag of Beare or Digne in Ireland.  She was vastly ancient; the Irish Triads say: ‘The three great ages: the age of the yew tree, the age of the eagle, the age of the Hag of Beare.’  She could endlessly renew Her youth.  All the men She loved – and they were countless – died of old age as She went on, returning to the prime of life, finding another pretty young one with whom to share youth.

"The Cailleach Bheure" by Jill Smith

“The Cailleach Bheure” by Jill Smith

She had one eye in the middle of a blue-black face, an eye of preternatural keenness.  She had red teeth and matted hair ‘white as an apron covered with hoarfrost.’  Over it She wore a kerchief and over Her gray clothing, a faded plaid shawl. She owned a farm and hired workers for six months with the stipulation that none would  be paid who could not outwork Her.  Looking at the hunched old thing, many a man fell for the trick and paid with his life, dying of overwork while trying to keep the pace She set.  So strong was She that She carried boulders in Her apron; the ones She dropped became mountain ranges.

She controlled the season and the weather; She was the cosmic Goddess of earth and sky, moon and sun.  Beacuse She does not appear in the written myths of Ireland and Scotland, but only in ancient tales and place names, it is presumed that She was the Goddess of the pre-Celtic settlers of the islands off Europe.  She was so powerful and beloved that even when newcomers imported their own divinities, the Cailleach was remembered” (p. 77 – 78).

Cailleach rules the dark half of the year, from Samhain to Beltane, while Her young and fresh counterpart, Brighid or Bride, is the queen of the summer months.  At least one tradition views Bride and the Cailleach as being one and the same, with the Cailleach drinking from the Well of Youth at the beginning of each spring, whereby She is transformed into the youthful Bride. However most traditions in Scotland have them firmly pitted against each other as two differing personalities.  She is sometimes portrayed riding on the back of a speeding wolf, bearing a hammer or a wand made of human flesh. [1] [2]

“Alternate names: Cailleach Bheur, Cailleach Uragaig, Cailleach Beinne Bric (‘Old Woman of the Speckled Mountain’), Cailleach Mor (‘Great Old Woman’) (Scotland); Cailleach Bheirre, Cailleach Bolus, Cailleach Corca Duibhe (Ireland); Caillagh ny Groamagh, Caillagh ny Gueshag (Isle of Man).” [3]

I would really like to share a neat short film with you that Grey Catsidhe had shared with our Druid group back in November entitled “An Cailleach Bheara“.  Click on the picture below to be taken to the Irish Film Board (ifb) site.

cailleach

I also really enjoy and respect the work that rainbowpagan2 on YouTube does, so I wanted to share this video as well.

 

 

 

Sources:

Firedragon, Tansy/Rachel Patterson. Tansyfiredragon.blogspot.com, “Cailleach and Bride“.

Monaghan, Patricia. The New Book of Goddesses and Heroines, “Cailleach”.

Took, Thalia. A-Muse-ing Grace Gallery, “The Cailleach, Celtic Crone Goddess of Winter“.

Wigington, Patti. Paganwiccan.about.com, “Cailleach, the Ruler of Winter“.

 

 

 

Suggested Links:

Firetree.net, “Cailleach“.

Forest, Danu. Danuforest.co.uk, “The Cailleach, the old woman of winter“.

McHardy, Stuart. Goddess Alive! Goddess Celebration and Research, “The Goddess in the Landscape of Scotland“.

Mysterious Britain & Ireland, “The Caillech Bheur“.

PaganPages.org, “Cailleach“.

Shaw, Judith. Feminismandreligion.com, “Cailleach, the Queen of Winter“.

Shee-Eire.com, “Cailleach Beara“.

Sparrow. Journey Around the Wheel of Life, “Cailleach“.

Tairis.co.uk, “Bride and the Cailleach“.

The Suppressed History Archives, “Crone“.

Wikipedia, “Cailleach“.

Woodfield, Stephanie. Darkgoddessmusings.blogspot.com, “Bride and Cailleach: Drinking from the Well of Youth“.

WolfWinds, Silver. Order of the White Moon, “Cailleach“.

Hexe

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“Winter Goddess” by Lisa Hunt

“Hexe’s themes are health, banishing and magic. Her symbols are healing, herbs and charms.  This ancient Germanic witch’s Goddess rules over health, banishing curses, and teaching people the effective use of spells, charms, and other mystical procedures for improving well-being. Thus we come by the old phrase ‘hex doctor’.

Living in the 1100s, Saint Hildegard was a renowned Benedictine nun living in Bingen and ministering to people with herbal preparations received in visions. Many of these had magical overtones, perhaps by Hexe’s influence. In any case today’s theme is learning the art of weaving ‘Hexes’ for physical, mental and spiritual health.

On the physical level, take a natural object like a cut potato and rub it against an inflicted area. Bury the potato to ‘bury’ the malady and decompose it. Or carry a jet stone to absorb the problem, then cleanse the rock in saltwater to wash the bad energy away.

For mental well-being, enjoy a soothing cup of mint tea stirred counter clockwise so tensions and negativity will wane. Or, carry a fluorite stone with you throughout the day to strengthen your mental powers.

For spiritual health, sprinkle nutmeg-laden water clockwise throughout your aura to empower your psychic self. Or, carry a lapis or amethyst stone to draw Goddess-centered thinking and action into your day.”

(Patricia Telesco, “365 Goddess: a daily guide to the magic and inspiration of the goddess”.)

I couldn’t find anything specifically on a Goddesses named “Hexe”.  According to Kerr Cuhulain, “The English word ‘hex’ actually comes from the Greek ‘hexe’ (a female sorcerer) or ‘hexer’ (a male sorcerer). This in turn is the source of similar words with the same meaning such as the Anglo Saxon word ‘haegtesse’ and the modern German word for a witch, ‘hexe.'” [1]

“Die Hexe von Endor” (The Witch of Endor) by Kunz Meyer-Waldeck

“Die Hexe von Endor” (The Witch of Endor) by Kunz Meyer-Waldeck

The word hexe is also related or similar to the word hag.  Wikipedia states, “A hag is a wizened old woman, or a kind of fairy or Goddess having the appearance of such a woman, often found in folklore and children’s tales such as Hansel and Gretel. Hags are often seen as malevolent, but may also be one of the chosen forms of shapeshifting deities, such as the Morrígan or Badb, who are seen as neither wholly beneficent nor malevolent.  The term appears in Middle English, and was a shortening of hægtesse, an Old English term for witch, similarly the Dutch heks and German hexe are also shortenings, of the Middle Dutch haghetisse and Old High German hagzusa respectively. All these words derive from the Proto-Germanic *hagatusjon which is of unknown origin, however the first element may be related to the word “hedge”.  As a stock character in fairy or folk tale, the hag shares characteristics with the crone, and the two words are sometimes used as if interchangeable.” [2] (Though we know better, don’t we?)

"Old-Hag Witch" by Fer Gregory

“Old-Hag Witch” by Fer Gregory

 

 

 

 

Sources:

Cuhulain, Kerr. Witchvox.com, “Texe Marrs [2]“.

Wikipedia, “Hag“.

Goddess Nicneven

“The Faery Godmother” by Brian Froud

“Nicneven’s themes are protection, ghosts, divination, peace and winter. Her symbols are pumpkins, gourds and traditional Halloween fare. In Scotland, Nicneven is the crone Goddess of Samhain, which is the predecessor of modern Halloween festivals. Nicneven governs the realms of magic and witchcraft and also represents the imminent onset of winter.

In magic and Celtic traditions, this is the new year – a time when the veil between worlds grow thin and spirits can communicate with the living.  Follow the usual customs of carving a pumpkin or turnip for protection and to illuminate the way to family spirits to join you in today’s celebrations.

In Druidical tradition, Samhain was a time to rectify any matters causing dissent. Nicneven provides the magical glue for this purpose. Take a white piece of paper on which you’ve written the reason for anger in a relationship, then burn it in any hallowed fire source (the pumpkin candle, or ritual fires). As you do, ask Nicneven to empower the spell and destroy the negativity completely.

To inspire Nicneven’s wisdom or magical aptitude within, enjoy traditional Halloween fare – apple pie, for example, brings sagacity. Sparkling apple cider tickles magical energy. And root crops provide solid foundations and protection while magical creatures are afoot!

(Patricia Telesco, “365 Goddess: a daily guide to the magic and inspiration of the goddess”.)

“Queen of the Bad Fairies” by Brian Froud

Nicneven or Nicnevin or Nicnevan (whose name is from a Scottish Gaelic surname, Neachneohain meaning ‘daughter(s) of the divine’ and/or daughter(s) of Scathach‘ NicNaoimhein meaning ‘daughter of the little saint’) is a Queen of the Fairies in Scottish folklore. The use of the name for this meaning was first found in Montgomerie’s Flyting (c.1585) and was seemingly taken from a woman in Scotland condemned to death for witchcraft before being burnt at the stake as a witch. In the Borders the name for this archetype was Gyre-Carling whose name had variants such as Gyre-Carlin, Gy-Carling, Gay-Carlin amongst others. Gyre is possibly a cognate of the Norse word geri and thus having the meaning of ‘greedy’ or it may be from the Norse gýgr meaning ‘ogress’; carling or carline is a Scots and Northern English word meaning ‘old woman’ which is from, or related to, the Norse word kerling (of the same meaning).

She was sometimes thought of as the mother witch, Hecate, or Habundia figure of Scottish fairy mythology.  This guise is frankly diabolical.  Sir Walter Scott calls Her:

a gigantic and malignant female, the Hecate of this mythology, who rode on the storm and marshalled the rambling host of wanderers under Her grim banner. This hag (in all respects the reverse of the Mab or Titania of the Celtic creed) was called Nicneven in that later system which blended the faith of the Celts and of the Goths on this subject. The great Scottish poet Dunbar has made a spirited description of this Hecate riding at the head of witches and good neighbours (fairies, namely), sorceresses and elves, indifferently, upon the ghostly eve of All-Hallow Mass. In Italy we hear of the hags arraying themselves under the orders of Diana (in Her triple character of Hecate, doubtless) and Herodias, who were the joint leaders of their choir, But we return to the more simple fairy belief, as entertained by the Celts before they were conquered by the Saxons.

Alexander Montgomerie, in his Flyting, described Her as:

Nicnevin with Her nymphes, in number anew
With charms from Caitness and Chanrie of Ross
Whose cunning consists in casting a clew.

“The Wild Hunt: Åsgårdsreien” by Peter Nicolai Arbo

Even so, the elder Nicnevin or Gyre-Carling retained the habit of night riding with an ‘elrich‘ entourage mounted on unlikely and supernatural steeds. Another, satirical popular depiction made Her leave Scotland after a love-quarrel with Her neighbour, to become wife of ‘Mahomyte‘ and queen of the ‘Jowis‘. She was an enemy of Christian people, and ‘levit vpoun Christiane menis flesche’; still, Her absence caused dogs to stop barking and hens to stop laying. But in Fife, the Gyre-Carling was associated with spinning and knitting, like Habetrot; here it was believed to be unlucky to leave a piece of knitting unfinished at the New Year, lest the Gyre-Carling should steal it.” [1]

“Nicnevin” by Xavier Collette

For a fantastic and in-depth piece written on this Goddess, I highly recommend reading “Nicnevin” by Sarah Lawless over at Witchofforestgrove.com.  In her piece, she explains “Nicnevin is the Queen of Elphame, the queen of the fairies, spirits, and strange creatures, queen of the Unseelie Court of Alba.  She reigns with a male consort at Her side, but his name is never given, it is my guess he changes with Her moods.  She is the Gyre Carline and appears sometimes in the Scottish tales as Habetrot, a crone-like spirit known for Her magical powers of spinning, weaving and clothmaking. It is said She wears a long grey mantle and carries a white wand and can appear as an old crone or a beautiful young woman. White geese are sacred to Her and their cackling may herald Her arrival. In this we see She is linked with the Germanic Goddess HoldaHel, queen of the Underworld, the leader of the Wild Hunt in Norse legend.”

In the Encyclopedia of Spirits by Judika Illes, she writes: “Nicnevin, Scottish witch Goddess, can transform water into rocks and sea into dry land.  Her name is derived from Gaelic Nic an Neamhain, ‘Daughter of Frenzy.’ Nicnevin flies through the night.  Although usually invisible, Her presence is announced by the cacophony of geese.  The Romans identified Her with Diana.

Following Scotland’s official conversion to Christianity and brutal witch trials, Nicnevin, a former Goddess, was reclassified as both a Fairy and a demon. (Scotland suffered particularly virulent witch hunts, second in scope only to the German lands in terms of prosecutions and executions.)  She is considered Queen of the Fairies of Fife, Scotland and is among the spirits associated with the Wild Hunt.

Sea hag from the hit TV show “Charmed”

Manifestation: Nicnevin manifests as a beautiful woman and a dried out old hag.  She wears a long gray mantle.

Attribute: Magic wand

Element: Water

Birds: Geese

Day: Samhain (Halloween) is Nicnevin’s sacred night when She grants wishes and answers petitions.  She is traditionally honored with celebratory feasts and toasting.  On Samhain, Nicnevin makes Herself visible as She flies through the air accompanied by a retinue of witches and honking geese.  Rituals are also held in Nicnevin’s honor on November 1″ (p. 760).

 

 

 

Sources:

Illes, Judika. Encyclopedia of Spirits, “Nicnevin: The Bone Mother“.

Lawless, Sarah. Witchofforestgrove.com, “NICNEVIN“.

Wikipedia, “Nicnevin“.

 

 

Suggested Links:

Ancientsites.com, “The Celtic Huntress“.

Andarta, Boudicca. Paganpages.org, “Let’s Spell it Out“.

Dalyell, John Graham. The Darker Superstitions of Scotland.

Dashu, Max. Suppressedhistories.net, “The Tregenda of the Old Goddess, Witches, and Spirits“.

Electricscotland.com, “The Goddess in the Landscape“.

Goddess-guide.com, “Crone Goddess“.

Illes, Judika. Weiser Field Guide to Witches, The: From Hexes to Hermione Granger, From Salem to the Land of Oz, “Nicnevin“.

Rankine, David R. Sacredfires.co.uk, “Hekate Wears Tartan“.

Wikipedia, “Queen of Elphame“.

Wikipedia, “Wild Hunt“.

Goddess Mala Laith

“Mala Laith’s themes are justice, community, peace, wisdom, knowledge, forgiveness, maturity and unity. Her symbols are the color gray, pigs, deer, the horse and birds.  Known often simply by the designation ‘Gray One’, Mala Laith is the ancient Celtic crone Goddess. Mala Laith is said to have made the mountains and formed many stone circles, alluding to Her age and power. She travels in the company of birds, pigs, deer or a gray horse, carrying wisdom, knowledge, understanding, sensibility and preparation to us as gifts that come with maturity.

On this day, people on Mann honor Tynwald, the old Norse assembly system instituted over one thousand years ago, by gathering to discuss legal matters and end internal bickering. As they do, Mala Laith stands by, offering good counsel and sagacity. For us this means taking a moment out to make sure things in our life are in order and being properly attended to. Review your checking account, follow up on legal matters, make peace with someone from whom you’ve been estranged and generally spend the day focusing on sound action, wise words and sensible thinking. This invokes Mala Laith’s energy.

Wear something gray today to honor the Goddess and watch to see if any of Her sacred animals show up (in logos, on billboards, anywhere) during your day. If they do, pay close attention to their movements and actions. They’re bringing a message to you from Mala Laith, and it’s well worth heeding!”

(Patricia Telesco, “365 Goddess: a daily guide to the magic and inspiration of the goddess”.)

“‘Grey eyebrows’ was the name given to the Cailleach in Ross and Cromarty in Scotland,” Patricia Monaghan tells us.  “She was said to tend a herd of pigs, which included the wild boar of Glen Glass” (p. 205).  As to be expected, Mala Laith “(pronounced MAH-lah LEE-ah) She is often equated with Cerridwen.” [1]

 

About Cailleach

“Cailleach” by Mairin-Taj Caya

“‘Cailleach’ (pronounced KAL-y-ach) derives from the old Irish caillech, or ‘the veiled one’. The modern word cailleach means ‘old woman’ or ‘hag’ in Gaelic. The Cailleach is a widespread form of Celtic hag-Goddess tied to the land and the weather who has many variants in the British Isles.

The Caillagh ny Groamagh (‘Gloomy Old Woman’, also called the Caillagh ny Gueshag, ‘Old Woman of the Spells’) of the Isle of Man is a winter and storm spirit whose actions on the 1st of February are said to foretell the year’s weather–if it is a nice day, She will come out into the sun, which brings bad luck for the year. The Cailleach Uragaig, of the Isle of Colonsay in Scotland, is also a winter spirit who holds a young woman captive, away from her lover.

The theme of winter holding spring captive is also seen in the tale that the Cailleach imprisons the beautiful young goddess Bride inside of a mountain over the winter. At Bride’s release, spring comes to the world.

“Cailleach Bhéara” by Max Dashu

The Cailleach Bheur (‘genteel old lady’) of Scotland is a blue-faced hag of winter, who ages in reverse–from old and ugly (symbolizing winter) to young and lovely (spring). The Cailleach Bhéirre of Ireland represents sovereignty over the land and is ancestress of many peoples. Like Dame Ragnell of the Arthurian legends, She appears to the hero as an hideous old woman seeking love; if She gets it, She becomes a beautiful young woman. In legends dating from Christian times, She is sometimes said to be a nun, perhaps linked to the meaning of Her name.

Alternate names: Cailleach Bheur, Cailleach Uragaig, Cailleach Beinne Bric (‘Old Woman of the Speckled Mountain’), Cailleach Mor (‘Great Old Woman’) (Scotland); Cailleach Bheirre, Cailleach Bolus, Cailleach Corca Duibhe (Ireland); Caillagh ny Groamagh, Caillagh ny Gueshag (Isle of Man).” [2]

 

 

 

Sources:

Joelle. Joelle’s Sacred Grove, “Mala Laith“.

Monaghan, Patricia. The New Book of Goddesses and Heroines, “Mala Laith”.

Took, Thalia. A-Muse-ing Grace Gallery, “The Cailleach, Celtic Crone Goddess of Winter“.

 

 

Suggested Links:

Forest, Danu. Danuforest.co.uk, “The Cailleach, the old woman of winter“.

Mysterious Britain & Ireland, “The Caillech Bheur“.

PaganPages.org, “Cailleach“.

Metropolitan Films Ltd. Thisisirishfilm.ie, “An Cailleach Bheara (2007)“.

Shee-Eire.com, “Cailleach Beara“.

Sparrow. Journey Around the Wheel of Life, “Cailleach“.

The Suppressed History Archives, “Crone“.

Wikipedia, “Cailleach“.

WolfWinds, Silver. Order of the White Moon, “Cailleach“.

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