Tag Archive | fae

More on the Cailleach

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.

Attracting plant devas

Plants to attract the Fae to your garden.

If you feel the need to have a garden that attracts the plant devas and to start a relationships with them there are certain things you need to do.

One make a place that has water in it. You need to have a bird bath or fountain or some way  for the devas to access water.

Certain plants attract them but truly all plants will attract some one. If you look up lists of plants that attract butterflies or hummingbirds you will attract active plant spirits.

So plant things that smell good or have bright colours, things attract the child in you.

You can start with rosemary, sage, columbine, osmanthus, roses, abutilons, lantana, morning glory, ivy, coleus and coral bells all work.

Vines and Lianas are great, like solanacea, moonflower, bignonia.

Trees that bear fruit and flower like citrus and the stone fruits, acacia.

Think about planting something and letting it go wild in one corner, you never know who might move in.

If you find you are attracting the neighborhood wildlife you will know you are on the right track especially if it is animals you wouldn’t normally find in an urban yard like large hawks or other raptors.

Start spending time sitting in your garden. Learn who the regular visitors are. The corbie family of birds recognize people and will communicate with you. Hummingbirds will buzz you and let you know they are there. Never put a hummingbird feeder up. They kill more hummers than they help. The sugar syrup goes bad quickly and breeds harmful bacteria which kill the hummers. It also makes them dependent on  human and if you aren’t there to fill it they can starve. A hummer can starve in 4 hours if not feedindg. They hibernate in cold rainy weather and are the only birds known to do that.

Plant plants they can get sustenance from. Don’t plant double flowers unless you are also going to plant plants that are singles. Double plants are difficult if not impossible for insects and birds to drink from.

If your yard is wet enough for it put a toad house in and see if you can get one to move in. Difficult in Southern California but not other places.

Put a bat box up. A single small bat can eat 1000 mosquitos an hour and some larger ones can eat more. They are very good for the environment and you. And don’t be discouraged if you only get squirrels at first. Squirrels are the vanguard. If they are happy the others will come too.

Oh, and use no pesticides or harmful products is a given.

Anyway, those are some helpful hints to start you out.