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The Cailleach - Winter Goddess

The Cailleach awakens

I awaken with the setting of the hazy white sun

The Otherworld, invisible to you, starts to appear.

I stretch out my hand

And tighten my grip upon the land.

I am the falling golden leaves

The mushroom

I am the sigh of the sleeping mist above the loch

The frost.

I rule over winter

I bring with me a tribe of your ancestors

Who will share their wisdom.

I am the last harvest

With a hammer I strike the grass beneath the holly.

I am death

And will take what is needed to be taken

to clear space for new life.

Gaelic Poem - unknown

We live in a culture where we are taught from birth to cling to youth and to fear change, transformation, and death. To accept and even endeavor to celebrate these natural processes can be seen as strange and disturbing. But wisdom comes with experience and the celebration of the impermanence of all forms.

Maiden - Mother - Crone

During the female life cycle, women experience the process of becoming a Maiden, Mother, and Crone, representing the triple Goddess.

The Maiden, the young woman or girl, is all about new beginnings, joy, and enthusiasm. The Mother represents fertility, abundance, growth, and the gaining of knowledge. The Crone as the final phase represents the hag and Wise Woman, the darkness of the night, and eventually death. Just as the Divine Feminine reveals herself in these 3 aspects so does her male counterpart, the Divine Masculine with the archetypes of Lover, Provider, and Sage.

Looking at our medicine wheel as a cosmic calendar to locate our creative activities within and the season we are in, we are in the energy of the Crone. Dark and cold winter days and nights are inviting us to rest, stay at home close to the fire or heating, and to sleep and to dream. It is the time to regenerate, to collect new energy for the spring to come, the Maiden season with all its energy and joy.

The Cailleach - Winter Goddess

The Crone is represented by different goddesses, for example, the Cailleach in the Irish/Celtic tradition and Holle in the Germanic mythology, both standing for the phase of winter.

Cailleach is a common word in both Scottish and Irish Gaelic meaning “old woman” or “hag.” This current word was derived from Caillech, a term meaning “veiled one” in Old Gaelic.

In Irish mythology, it is said that at Samhain, the Cailleach comes to life from being a stone, strikes the ground with her stick, and freezes the ground. She is responsible for bringing winter and with it, the important work of winter that enables regeneration and resetting. She is said to rule the months between Samhain (the first day of winter marked on November 1st) and Beltaine (the 1st of May and the first day of summer), while Brigid rules over the summer months.

Even though the Cailleach is typically depicted as a destroyer Goddess, she is also known for her ability to create new life. The Cailleach is a Goddess of Dissolution and Death. But also, as the Old Woman of Knowledge, she champions our search for wholeness, transforming our understanding of ourselves and our environment.

Crone Wisdom

During this season, we can actively work with the Cailleach energy, calling in the Crone wisdom and replacing our thoughts of (false) eternal youth and fear of transformation. Especially in times like these, the Wise Woman is here to support us in our journey of change and adjustment, giving us a warm embrace of wisdom, calm, and safety. She helps us to celebrate transformation and melts the resistance against the winter, outside, and inside of us. When calling in the Winter Goddess, flow with Her and see the beauty in the darkness and the rebirth. Because after death follows rebirth and new life.

With deepest respect and love, you can call upon the Cailleach, in this, Her time.

Ask that She may guide you to your wisdom and sovereignty.

What is one thing that you can do today to honor the Wise Woman within yourself and to hear the call of the Crone?

Text by Nina

Picture Credits: Carolyn Hillyer


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