It may have been a year ago that I started this necklace. And as another turn of the wheel goes by, I am finally finished this necklace. I want to thank my friend, and our hostess – Sally Russick, for the incentive and inspiration to finish this!
I have been working loosely in a series lately – necklaces inspired by goddesses. Trying to embody the concepts of the feminine divinity and also incorporate the attributes of that goddess, in that certain culture, in that mythos. My heritage is Celtic and I am most often drawn to the Goddesses of that culture. This necklace was started with a focal of vintage lace in resin – symbolizing the ice/snow/frost of winter.
“Cailleach” derives from the old Irish caillech, or “the veiled one.” The modern word cailleach means “old woman” or “hag” in Gaelic. The Cailleach is a widespread form of Celtic hag Goddess tied to the land and the weather Who has many variants in the British Isles.
The Caillagh ny Groamagh (“Gloomy Old Woman”, also called the Caillagh ny Gueshag, “Old Woman of the Spells”) of the Isle of Man is a winter and storm spirit whose actions on the 1st of February are said to foretell the year’s weather–if it is a nice day, She will come out into the sun, which brings bad luck for the year. The Cailleach Uragaig, of the Isle of Colonsay in Scotland, is also a winter spirit who holds a young woman captive, away from her lover. (Thanks to Thalia Took of “A-musing Grace” )
In Scotland, where she is also known as Beira, Queen of Winter, she is credited with making numerous mountains and large hills, which are said to have been formed when she was striding across the land and accidentally dropped rocks from her apron. In other cases she is said to have built the mountains intentionally, to serve as her stepping stones. She carries a hammer for shaping the hills and valleys, and is said to be the mother of all the goddesses and gods.
The Cailleach displays several traits befitting the personification of Winter: she herds deer, she fights Spring, and her staff freezes the ground. (Wiki)
The snow, the rocks, the ice… the frost patterns on a cottage window; here is my “inspired by winter” necklace –
Spiral charm – K. Totten/Starry Road Studio
Lamwork – Anne Gardanne
materials: moonstone, blue ribbon jasper, chandelier crystal, smoky quartz, mother-of-pearl, river rocks, chain and seed beads.
Thanks to Anne Gardanne for her gorgeous lampwork – they inspired the palette of this piece!
The Cailleach is related to another Celtic Goddess – Bride (or Brigid). Her “day” is February 1, known as Imbolc on the ancient Celtic calendar. I have included a bit of her story, as it is her time of year, and the two goddesses are often seen as associated…
“Bride (or Brigid) is a beloved goddess of the Celts known by many names, Bride being the Scots Gaelic variant. Her names mean “the Exalted One.” She tends the triple fires of smithcraft (physical fire), healing (the fire of life within), and poetry (the fire of the spirit). In balance to this She also presides over many healing springs. Cattle are sacred to Her, green is Her color, and, perhaps one of the reasons She is so beloved is that She is said to have invented beer! Her feast day of February 1st is called Imbolc (the Christian Candlemas), when the predictions for the coming spring’s weather were made, a remnant of which is seen in the modern Groundhog Day. She is daughter to the Dagda, and invented the first keening when her son Rúadán was killed.
The Cailleach, crone Goddess of winter, is said to imprison Bride in a mountain each winter; She is released on the 1st of February, traditionally the first day of Spring in parts of the British Isles.
Bride the Goddess proved so popular that when Christianity came by, they converted Her to a saint. Called “Mary of the Gaels” by the Irish, St. Brigid is believed to be the midwife to Mary at the birth of Jesus, and so was thought the patroness of childbirth. Her importance is such that She is one of the three patron saints of Ireland, with St. Patrick and St. Columcille. Her nineteen nuns (a solar number) kept an eternal flame burning at Her monastery at St. Kildare.” (from Thalia Took at A-musing Grace)
Now – a necklace for Bride? Fire, a woven wire Bride’s cross, green gems… that may be next… Thanks for stopping by. Please visit my friends and colleagues also participating on this hop: