I’m a bit ashamed about how little I know of Celtic folklore, especially considering I have roots in Scotland. But who better to start my exploration with than the Celtic goddess of Winter.
The Cailleach – also known as ‘The Veiled One,’ ‘Lady of Beasts’ and ‘Goddess of the Cold’ – determines the length of Winter and how harsh it will be. This veiled, one-eyed, blue-skinned crone comes into power at Samhain, replacing the goddess Brigid and marking the beginning of wintertime.
Capable of bounding over mountains and riding storms, the Cailleach is a creator deity who’s thought to have shaped much of the known landscapes of Scotland and Ireland.
Neither good nor evil, the intentions of the Cailleach varies from story to story. Although she is known for having a deep affection for wild creatures. She decides which will see the Winter through and which will perish. In all three Gaelic speaking regions, the Cailleach is the patron of wolves, and in Scotland, she’s the keeper of deer.
When the time approaches for the arrival of Brigid, the weakening Cailleach always makes a last-ditch attempt to stall Spring by bringing about terrible storms. But she’s always overpowered and retreats to Ben Nevis to sleep until the return of the darker days.