30 Days: What is she About?

Summary: I re-order the next few questions so they make more sense.

14) Has worship of this deity changed in modern times?

Really, no one knows, since we don’t know if she was worshiped at all in the past, and certainly not how. Worship, as we understand it now, is probably a younger concept than her, anyway. One way I suspect things have changed is the wider concept of ‘the Cailleach’, a vague idea that draws on aspects of various Scottish and Irish Cailleachean. I suspect this is a Romantic-era thing, but it might be older than that.

I don’t know many people who honour the Beara Cailleach, but I do know others who honour Cailleachean in ways that I can relate to. A lot of devotees talk about these deities being spirits of the wild. From what I’ve found talking to other followers, many of the Cailleachean are very liminal creatures, who are best experienced out in the wild, but who will also drag you into the Otherworld a fair bit. I use a lot of Otherworld journeying to work with my Lady, which I can do anywhere – although she has recently requested a more prominent shrine in my house.

But, really, she seems to want service to the liminal people and creatures – the forgotten people of forgotten gods – more than she wants toadying at a shrine. I suspect I’ll have to explore this more deeply at some point soon, and work out what she wants me to do for them. (I was in a hospital this weekend and got the sense, once again, that I should do volunteering at a place like that. We’ll see how that unfolds.)

11) Festivals, days, and times sacred to this deity

I’m not going to talk about Latha na Callich, which is a specifically Scottish festival, but I do start to celebrate my Lady’s summer/growth/harvest aspect around this time. In spring, when the weird weather and storms start, I see the wild land fighting back against human cultivation and industry, and honour it. Her local tales are full of this clash, and there are also hints of her spring rebirth (or return to youth) in the local lore. The harvest time belongs to her, too. And she’s present in the wildness of winter, even though she’s not a winter spirit, as such.

12) Places associated with this deity and their worship

Hag of Beara stone. Photo by freespiral, flickr

Hag of Beara stone. Photo by freespiral, flickr

IMG_0467

Baoi Bhéarra/Oileán Baoi/Dursey Island

Ruined church on Dursey Island

Ruined church on Dursey Island

The hills and mountains of the Beara peninsula

The hills and mountains of the Beara peninsula

15) Any mundane practices that are associated with this deity?

It’s always hard to say, with deities about whom we only have odd little stories. Everything has to be extrapolated. Although I don’t know of any ‘mundane’ areas of life that have her patronage, I can tell you what it *feels* like she’s associated with. Prosperity, suggested by everything from the white cow association, through to the tales where she locks away her wealth (the bounty of the land) and uses cunning to keep it from being stolen. Creativity, since she’s all about bringing creation through chaos. Liminal spaces and liminal people. And, of course, the Beara peninsula, its people and their lives.

13) What modern cultural issues are closest to this deity’s heart?

This one I am very much still working out. She cares about liminal people, including homeless people and other social outsiders. She thinks the world needs a little less order and a little more chaos, and to be shaken up from time to time, which I see manifested in lots of modern ’causes’. She cares about the forgotten people. I suspect that elderly people are a particularly relevant group for her.

3 thoughts on “30 Days: What is she About?

  1. Out of curiosity, how long have you honoured Beara Cailleach for? – I notice you seem really knowledgable about her, both in terms of research of research and UPG and have had the opportunity to visit many of her sacred places.

    • I properly met her a couple of years ago, but in many ways I’ve known her longer than that, as my family lives in the Beara peninsula and I’ve been going there regularly since I was a child.

      • That’s interesting, meeting a deity in person only a couple of years ago but being able to trace the threads back through time, place and (for me) influence is something I’m also familiar with. Thanks for sharing.

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