My ex had a dream that I came to her and told her she had to do a service for Kathy. Only one Kathy comes to mind that we had in common and is dead. Kathy died several years ago though I didn’t know that until last year when all the camp staff started to find each other again after many years. Facebook did accomplish that at least for some of us. Kathy had passed away from ovarian cancer and it really hurt that none of us were around to help her. I hope she knew how loved she was still.
Kathy was half Irish and half Native American and the best parts of both and her mother had played a sneaky trick on her by giving her the letter “o” for a middle name because she had an Irish last name that usually has an O in front of it. That O caused her more grief when she had to give a middle name because bureaucracies never would believe it was just the letter.
We lost Kathy when she broke up with her partner after something like 17 years as I recall. She gotten involved with a really jealous woman who was a friend of another ex of mine and she made her move away to Wisconsin and severed contact. At the time it was really weird and it seems even weirder now that Kathy let herself be manipulated that way. Kathy was about as easy to manipulate as a redwood before she got injured and had to retire. She’d been a firefighter with the CDF (now it’s called CALFIRE). And someone dropped a BA (breathing apparatus) out the window and it landed on her head and at that point she found out she’d already broken her neck earlier at a rugby game.
So she was retired from firefighting and firefighting had been her life in a lot of ways. It was a huge part of her identity. Somehow she got together with J and J was not a nice person. She worked in collections and if she was pissed at you she would put things in your credit score and you were screwed. After Kathy moved back to Wisconsin I called her a couple of times and the last time she told me not to call anymore because J was getting mad and she didn’t want anything to happen. And that was the last time I had contact with her although I did try writing a few times and never got an answer.
Kathy meant a lot to me. The first time I met Kathy she scared the bejeebus out of me. It was my first women’s music concert and I wasn’t out of the closet yet and this tall Native American tough looking person came stalking up to the group in leather jacket and bandana and chains and looking very scary to little not ready to come out, what am I doing with lesbians? me. And then I saw her eyes, Kathy had the kindest brown eyes I have ever seen on any human being and I couldn’t be scared anymore. She was just Kathy with her shining soul.
When we used to go to the Rose Parade every year, one time my brother and his partner joined us and these fools from Iowa walked up and called my brother “faggot”. They weren’t very bright or they would have noticed they were surrounded by Girl Scouts and rugby players all of whom were bigger than these little dweebs from Iowa State. Kathy and Edie stood up and chased the little homophobes back to their group and I’ll bet they never did that again. Edie was even scarier looking than Kathy because she had lost all her teeth playing rugby.
She was the one who first put the Goddess in front of me and later when I was ready got me to her HP when I needed help. How she even knew that of our whole group I was the one who would be interested I don’t know but she did. And years later when we did our two rituals for the spirit of place at our camp I found out she was my magical other half. There has never been another person whose energy I have matched with as if two halves of a whole. The first time we priestessed the ritual together there was an almost audible click and she and I kind of looked at each other in shock. It was so unexpected. It was such a successful pairing the spirit of place showed up and actually touched me. I have to admit I squealed like a little girl and then apologized to the spirit.
I was one of the few of our group who ever turned her down for a liaison. I didn’t want to hurt her partner even though she said she had permission but still, I didn’t do it. I loved them both and just couldn’t do it. So to find her so closely matched in energy was a huge gift. And the two years we did ritual I reveled in it and I missed her a lot when she was gone from our lives.
We used to all go to the West Coast Women’s Music Festival and in 1986 I was in a merry widow back brace and feeling like dog doo when I got home the next day I ended up having an emergency appendectomy and Kathy would always tease me she could have removed it with her pocket knife on the big flat rock that had been in the middle of our camp site. Was never sure she wasn’t serious about that.
So yesterday when I posted the Gaelic Blessing and the Knot of Isis it was for Kathy. Some where Kathy is happy and healthy and I expect if she knows what’s going on laughing her ass off. Much love, Kathy on whatever trail you are hiking or whatever women’s music festival you are attending in the sky.
Stone of Destiny commented on my post about the Cailleach that we didn’t know whether she was a goddess but I think we do know an awful lot from Scots folk sources and tales which tend to have kept a lot alive.
I went back through all my pre-80’s sources of folk writings and tales and I didn’t find a single reference to Cailleach as a goddess but several as a spirit of place which in the case of Scotland is a being that is a member of the Fae tribe. The Cailleach is peculiar to Scotland and surely some source in a folk tale or folk memory would have named her a deity if she indeed existed as such. The Scots treat deity entirely different that they treat the Fae. There is not worship or reverence for the Fae as there is for deity or saint like Bride and there is mention of spirits that are feared but not worshipped and that is the chief distinction between fear and worship. God is worshipped, The Fae are feared and propitiated and detoured away from if possible.
And I did finally find mention in the Silver Bough – Scottish Folklore and Folk-Belief; Volume one by F. Marian McNeil published in 1957 and I find this one of the most creditable ones. In a chapter called Fairies, page 199 under Traces of Animism.
“Besides the fairies, the trolls, the banshees, and the sluagh, there are many supernatural beings in Scottish folklore. Traces of the old animism linger in the tales of the Fomorians (Gael:Fomhairean) the giants whose seats are certain mountain peaks, and who flings boulders at one another, and the Cailleachan or stormhags, who together represent the elemental forces of nature, particularly the destructive aspect; in the names of “Nimble Men’ and “Merry Dancers’ given to the darting streams of the Aurora Borealis; in the legends of river spirits; and in the tradition of the Blue Men of the Minch.
Many a mountain has its Cailleach. The Cailleach nan Cruachan for example dwelt on the summit of Ben Cruachan. ‘When anything ruffles her temper, she gathers a handful of whirlwinds and descends in a tempest, steps across Loch Etive at a stride, lashing it into fury, and prevents all passage at Connel Ferry.’
Many a river, too has its spirit. ‘Glen Cuaich, in Invernessshire, writes Professor Watson, ‘is-or was till lately-haunted by a being known as Cuachag, the river sprite. The tutelary sprite of Etive is Eiteag; a man of my acquaintance declared he knew a man who had met her in Glen Salach –after a funeral… In Ross, “Cailleach na h-abhann,” the river hag was dreaded at the fords of the river Orrin.” And it goes on to talk about the Blue Men of the Minch.
Notice the language is always about the Fae and is a lot like the Irish speech of the banshee at fords and waters. Never is she treated as deity.
I refer to sources before the 1980’s because after that we have the incestuous new age publications that love to refer to each other and not to actual folk writing and collections like McNeil or Alexander Carmichael since I can’t raise my grandmother from the dead to ask her. Celtic deities usually start as more human in guises like heroes and do heroic acts more akin to human. The Fae have no desire to do human acts and are not treated as human ever that I can see.
I maintain the Cailleach is not a goddess but a spirit of place and a member of the Fae.
I remember the election season of 1984. At the 1984 Democratic National Convention on July 18 in San Francisco, California, Jesse Jackson delivered the Keynote address, entitled “The Rainbow Coalition.” The speech called for Arab Americans, Native Americans, Asian Americans, youth, disabledveterans, small farmers, lesbians and gays to join with African Americans and Jewish Americans for a political purpose. My lover at the time woke me up very early in the morning to tell me that Jesse Jackson had said the words “lesbians and gays” as part of his speech at the Democratic Convention. I started to cry and called my mother and she cried, too. We both cried. It was a moment I will never forget…because in that moment I as a lesbian existed on national television and in the imagination and spoken word of the country’s political system where I live and…
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