Cailleach, the old woman of winter, the hag, is the ancestor mother, ancient Goddess of Scotland, Ireland and Britain. Her cult existed before Keltics arrive to the islands, and survive in folk legends. As Cailleach Bheur she was the blue hag of Scotland, she reborn on Samhain, frozing everything around her with the white road she receives from Bridie and that turns into a black road during the winter. As Cailleach na Montaigne she was the ancient mother of mountains. In Ireland she was Cailleach Bheare mother of Aine and Scotland she was daughter of Grainne, the winter sun. She was also known as “Bear goddess”, “Boar goddess” and “owl faced”. Cailleach in modern Gaelic means ‘old wife’, but her ancient meaning was ‘veiled one’. She is the land covered with white snow.

Her relation with Bridie, sometimes is so strong that it seems they are just a different face of the same Goddess. In some tales she gives the white road to Bridie, so she can awake the land during Imbolc. And in some other tales, she drinks from a youth fountain and is transformed on Bridie herself.

She is death and stillness, she is mourning the decay of the grain and the falling of leaves, she covers herself in white snow and cold, announcing the time of hibernation. She lives in the high places, under the holly tree and the gorse bush. She cares for animals during the winter. At Beltane eve, she returns to the earth in the form of a stone. She is a Stone Woman, the old ancestor and memory of the high places.


The ancient British Goddess, Kathy Jones.