Modern Druidry

Ireland 2 – A visit by Caileach

June 6, 2010

We are still on our first day in Ireland, having just landed at the hotel and taken a breather from our long journey through the “non toll” roads of Dublin, we decided to hit out for Tara.

As Gwas will no doubt relate some of the historical aspects of this site I will deal with an interesting experience that occurred there for me.

We arrived, the long way around (this seems to have been a popular theme in Ireland) and the sun was just setting across the western countryside.

I wandered around the many gentle mounds of the site and eventually ended up in the church yard that is situated there.

The church is dedicated to St Patrick and to be honest, that late in the evening with the many crows nests above, it could have easily doubled as any Hammer House of Horror setting.

With the crows squawking there sleeping call I sat where the dowsing rods had led me i.e. in the church yard there looks to be the remains of a wall. You can see it in the picture below. So there I was, having been “called” to this haunting place by the rods promise of an “interesting” place.

After many moments of contemplation, with no result and it getting a bit cold, the day had been gorgeously sunny but the night was much cooler. I was thinking that it was about time to leave.

When a couple of crows landed right infront of me. They gave me a true fright and I half got up to run, but in the past I have had strange portents with crows so I decided to watch these with intent. They both jumped about and seemed to be fighting over some food on the floor, but I couldn’t see any. Then after a few minutes they let off an almighty screeching…it sounded to me like they were screaming “kay-leech, kay-leech” after a couple moments of this one flew off, then the other. I was dumb struck by the behaviour of these creatures and the mesasage they were trying to communicate.

About fifteen minutes later I met up with Gwas and we exchanged experiences. I asked him whether he had heard of anything called kay-leech. His response was no, so I let it skip from my thoughts. Then some time later to fill a curious void I decided to google it (at great expense!) and as I put in the words, google suggested …”caileach”

What! Seriously! I delved further…

“The cailleach is a sort of mystery; a Goddess who survived eons after her worship died out. she is vastly ancient, so ancient that we virtually nothing of her original myth and ritual. she can be found in Ireland and Scotland and England, traced through folklore, through the names of ancient monuments and natural wonders, and through enigmatic verses and stories.
It is not possible to obtain an idea how long she was worshiped, or by whom. The Celts came to the lands of the Cailleach some 2000 years ago. bringing their own pantheon of Gods and Goddesses. The new arrivals recognized the Cailleach as already ancient, for as a famous Irish poems says, ‘There are three great ages; the age of the yew tree, the age of the eagle, the age of the Cailleach.’ It is impossible to know what this Goddess meant to her original worshipers.
Cailleach must have been very important, for she did not disappear as countless other divinities have, If nothing is truly known about her, paradoxically she is still alive, still a power in the lands once dedicated to her. from these vestiges, we can reconstruct  something of the powerful original figure of ancient times.
She had many names Cailleach Bheur or Carlin in Scotland; Cally Berry in northern Ireland; Cailleach ny Groamch on the Isle of Man; Black Annis in Britain; the Hag of Beare or Digne in Ireland. She was of fearsome appearance, with only one eye an eye of preternatural keeness, in the middle of a blue black face.  She was noted to have red teeth and hair white as a frosted snow covered mountain top. Over it she wore a kerchief and over her dull grey clothing a faded plad shawl.” Source: Order of White Moon

What did this mean? I was at a loss to explain it that night, but the next day had more revelations and a deal to be had. But if you want a hint…it is right there in the text above…”There are three great ages; the age of the yew tree…”

Just before I finish this post I want to mention the locations that this path took:

  • It started at Tara and St Patrick
  • More was revealed at Knowth
  • Concluded at Four Knocks

Google is a fantastic tool and I searched for a connection with these terms and found one that connected Tara, St Patrick, Caileach and Four Knocks… An Imbolc Celebration , stay tuned for more!



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  1. I think Cailleach is usually pronounced something more like ‘cal-yak’ or ‘cal-lik’ (with the same ‘ch’ sound as in ‘loch’) rather than ‘kay-leech’ though. But there’s an interesting note about her in Robin Williamson’s notes to his poem ‘Five Denials on Merlin’s Grave’ (which I just happened to post about on Tuesday…hmmm, synchronicity?). He writes…”The word ‘Excalibur’ I think, may be a sort of Latinized hodge-podge of ‘ex’, meaning ‘from’, and ‘Cailleach Bheur’, the ‘Dark Goddess.'” Interesting stuff!

    1. Thanks for pointing that out. I think that if Kal had been given the correct pronunciation though, he would not have been able to look it up! You see how the word was delivered phonetically to him? That’ s much more in tune with how his mind works. For him, the word might ad well have been Polish for all the sense it made to him upon hearing it!
      Interesting interpretation of Excalibur! much more in tune with the idea of a gift from The Lady.

  2. I really appreciate your writings and your work on this subject. I’m only into my first year with this type of work and one can learn quite a bit by reading your posts. I just wanted to let you know I’ve mentioned this site on my blog, Along a Different Path, which is listed above.

    Thanks for all you do and enjoy Ireland!

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