The Legendary Ice Goddess…
By The Fairytale Traveler’s contributing author, Christy Jackson Nicholas
The Cailleach is the Winter Goddess, she who brings in the cold season. She is often portrayed as an old woman, a hag. There are many legends of her throughout Scotland and Ireland, but there are particular places she is associated with, such as the Beara Peninsula in Ireland where she has come to be known as “The Hag of Beara”.
There is a legend about the end of winter that may sound familiar to many Americans. On the eve of February 1st, the Cailleach goes out of her cave to gather firewood. If the weather is fair, she can collect more fuel for her fire, and thus the winter weather will continue for another six weeks. If, however, the weather is foul, then she cannot gather more wood, and winter is over. Perhaps you recognize some similarities with Groundhog day?
In Scottish legend it is told that the Cailleach walked along the earth with an apron full of stones, and when one dropped out of her apron, it became a mountain. A goddess is not really a monster, but she does bring on the winter, which many consider a small death, so perhaps she is a bit monstrous – or at least to be feared and respected.
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