30. Any suggestions for others just starting to learn about this deity?
The last question on the 30 Days of Deity Devotion is a tricky one. There is so little written about the Cailleach Bhearra of the Beara Peninsula, specifically. She’s there, in myths and folklore, but you have to look hard. She creeps in, shrouded in disguise, passing for an ordinary old woman. She’s the wife of a druid on an island with a cow. She’s a woman with a lobster in a box. She’s a farmer with a harvest to reap, competing with any man who believes he can reap it faster. She’s an Old One turned to stone by a Christian saint, looking out across the sea and waiting for her husband the sea-god. Waiting for the right time for her reemergence from the land, renewed and young again.
The best way to meet Cailleach Bhearra – Baoi – is to go to her land, the Beara Peninsula. She is so close to the land that they are indistinguishable. I worry, saying this, that I’m wallowing in privilege and cultural imperialism. I can afford to go to Ireland, and it’s just over the water from me so it’s not difficult to go. I happen to go there every other year or so, anyway, to see my family.
But she’s also in all the land, everywhere. She’s in the wind in the trees. She’s in the mountains that she laid down, and the ancient stones that she flung at her sister, and the harvest that she reaps. She’s the dark cliffs watching the sea from above. She’s wherever chaos and creation swirl about each other, where the Well feeds the Tree, where darkness creates light. She’s in the darkness within us, waiting. In the liminal spaces. In between.
…the darkness that would be cast
between the moment when I could destroy
and the moment when I would devour.
– Leanne O’Sullivan
I’m planning a trip to Ireland at the moment. To dedicate myself to a deity.
In two weeks I’ll be there – alone. This will be the furthest I’ve gone on my own since I became disabled. I’m going to Dingle, where Dovinia’s name is all over the Ogham stones, and to Beara, where my ancestors are from, and on down to Inis Baoi (Baoi Bhearra or Oileán Baoi in modern Irish, Dursey Island in English). I will have a hire car and a bag. And my world gets smaller.
I’ll have to take a cable car over to Oileán Baoi – you can’t sail – the waters are too choppy. The sea keeps you out, Manannan mac Lir protecting his Lady, demanding to know if you are worthy of her. And my world gets smaller.
There’s a spot on Inis Baoi where there will be nothing but me and the land and the sea and the gods. And my world gets smaller… and they get bigger, and I remember that I’m a crucial part of the infinite.
Well, That’s the plan, anyway!
Now I just have to craft a ritual. Little thing. :S