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Author Topic: Brighid and The Cailleach  (Read 2349 times)

rocquelaire

Brighid and The Cailleach
« on: May 11, 2013, 09:45:41 am »
Hi,

For those of you who don't know, I've been working with Brighid for the last couple of years and at the moment She is my only deity. I've recently been reading a bit more of the Scottish mythology about Brighid (also known as Bride here) and its very tied up with the mythology of The Cailleach.

 In some tales, The Caiileach has Brighid imprisoned over the winter (roughly from Samhain until some time between Imbolc and Beltane) until Brighid escapes, bringing spring to the land. In some versions, Aengus Og rescues Bride and they marry.  In others, at the end of winter The Cailleach travels to Tir Na Nog and drinks from the fountain of youth, becoming Brighid.

Previously, I haven't paid much attention to these stories but at the moment they strike me as important. So, I have questions, especially for those who work with either of these deities.

1) Do you consider Brighid and Bride to be the same?

2) Do you work with The Cailleach and Brighid together?

3) How do you see the relationship between them?

4) Anything else?

Thanks,
Rocquelaire
Ashael Rising My debut novel, a tale of a tribal medicine woman, protecting her world from soul-sucking invaders. Crowdfunding now.

Sarah

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Re: Brighid and The Cailleach
« Reply #1 on: May 11, 2013, 09:56:50 am »
Quote from: rocquelaire;108385
Hi,

For those of you who don't know, I've been working with Brighid for the last couple of years and at the moment She is my only deity. I've recently been reading a bit more of the Scottish mythology about Brighid (also known as Bride here) and its very tied up with the mythology of The Cailleach.

 In some tales, The Caiileach has Brighid imprisoned over the winter (roughly from Samhain until some time between Imbolc and Beltane) until Brighid escapes, bringing spring to the land. In some versions, Aengus Og rescues Bride and they marry.  In others, at the end of winter The Cailleach travels to Tir Na Nog and drinks from the fountain of youth, becoming Brighid.



I can't answer your questions but am really interested in this do you have any links or book recs that contain these stories?

Thanks
Knowing when to use a shovel is what being a witch is all about. Nanny Ogg, Witches Abroad

rocquelaire

Brighid and The Cailleach
« Reply #2 on: May 11, 2013, 10:11:34 am »
Quote from: maybeimawitch;108386
I can't answer your questions but am really interested in this do you have any links or book recs that contain these stories?

Thanks

Here's one for Bride and Aengus:
http://www.educationscotland.gov.uk/scotlandsstories/brideandangus/brideaudiotranscript.asp

And a good overview - with references to books:
http://www.tairis.co.uk/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=108:bride-and-the-cailleach&catid=45:gods&Itemid=0

A reference to Brighid and The Cailleach being the same:
http://www.princeton.edu/~achaney/tmve/wiki100k/docs/Cailleach.html

There are others, but those are the links I have handy and should be a decent place to start :)
Ashael Rising My debut novel, a tale of a tribal medicine woman, protecting her world from soul-sucking invaders. Crowdfunding now.

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Re: Brighid and The Cailleach
« Reply #3 on: May 11, 2013, 10:13:56 am »
Quote from: rocquelaire;108389
Here's one for Bride and Aengus:
http://www.educationscotland.gov.uk/scotlandsstories/brideandangus/brideaudiotranscript.asp

And a good overview - with references to books:
http://www.tairis.co.uk/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=108:bride-and-the-cailleach&catid=45:gods&Itemid=0

A reference to Brighid and The Cailleach being the same:
http://www.princeton.edu/~achaney/tmve/wiki100k/docs/Cailleach.html

There are others, but those are the links I have handy and should be a decent place to start :)

 
Thank you so much!
Knowing when to use a shovel is what being a witch is all about. Nanny Ogg, Witches Abroad

Naomi J

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Re: Brighid and The Cailleach
« Reply #4 on: May 11, 2013, 11:07:43 am »
Quote from: rocquelaire;108385
Hi,

For those of you who don't know, I've been working with Brighid for the last couple of years and at the moment She is my only deity. I've recently been reading a bit more of the Scottish mythology about Brighid (also known as Bride here) and its very tied up with the mythology of The Cailleach.

 In some tales, The Caiileach has Brighid imprisoned over the winter (roughly from Samhain until some time between Imbolc and Beltane) until Brighid escapes, bringing spring to the land. In some versions, Aengus Og rescues Bride and they marry.  In others, at the end of winter The Cailleach travels to Tir Na Nog and drinks from the fountain of youth, becoming Brighid.

Previously, I haven't paid much attention to these stories but at the moment they strike me as important. So, I have questions, especially for those who work with either of these deities.

1) Do you consider Brighid and Bride to be the same?

2) Do you work with The Cailleach and Brighid together?

3) How do you see the relationship between them?

4) Anything else?

Thanks,
Rocquelaire

In Ireland there are various Cailleach figures, who may all have the same roots (My UPG makes me think the 'Cailleach archetype' is not quite the same thing as these individual spirits, though). The Irish myths don't particularly relate her to Brighid. If you want to read more about the Cailleach and her local variants, I recommend The Book of the Cailleach, a collection of many of these local myths.

In my personal experience honouring Cailleach Bhearra (which I've only been doing for about a year), she doesn't strike me as being the same goddess as Brighid, at all. The Scottish myth reads to me like a slightly later interpretation of earlier land and seasonal myths. People will have varying UPG for that, though.
« Last Edit: May 11, 2013, 11:08:42 am by Naomi J »
"We're all stories, in the end. Make it a good one, eh?"
- Doctor Who

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Re: Brighid and The Cailleach
« Reply #5 on: May 11, 2013, 01:30:07 pm »
Quote from: rocquelaire;108385
Hi,

Previously, I haven't paid much attention to these stories but at the moment they strike me as important. So, I have questions, especially for those who work with either of these deities.

1) Do you consider Brighid and Bride to be the same?

2) Do you work with The Cailleach and Brighid together?

3) How do you see the relationship between them?

4) Anything else?

Thanks,
Rocquelaire


For your first question, in my opinion, deities whose names have the same root, in this case, *brig-, are the same deity to me. Hard polytheists will most likely say otherwise.

Whether or not these folktales have any importance to your religious practice depends on your...method, is the only word I can think of at the moment. Most Indo-European religions require reconstruction because they were replaced by Christianity early on.

How best to reconstruct them is a matter of personal preference. Since you're talking about Scottish and Irish stuff, I'll mention Gaelic Traditionalists, who reconstruct the ways of the 17th-19th centuries. This would encompass the folktales you've been studying.

For me, I prefer up to the first millennium, before Christianity took over anything, as my era of reconstruction. So the Cailleach is not a part of this, being a product of more modern times. Which means I don't see a connection between her and Brighid. But that's just me.

When it comes down to nitty-gritty details like this,  I meditate on all the research I've done, see what conclusions it points to, and if things could go either way, I cast lots to divine the answer and go with that.

rocquelaire

Brighid and The Cailleach
« Reply #6 on: May 12, 2013, 04:52:45 am »
Quote from: Sophia Catherine;108395
In Ireland there are various Cailleach figures, who may all have the same roots (My UPG makes me think the 'Cailleach archetype' is not quite the same thing as these individual spirits, though). The Irish myths don't particularly relate her to Brighid. If you want to read more about the Cailleach and her local variants, I recommend The Book of the Cailleach, a collection of many of these local myths.

In my personal experience honouring Cailleach Bhearra (which I've only been doing for about a year), she doesn't strike me as being the same goddess as Brighid, at all. The Scottish myth reads to me like a slightly later interpretation of earlier land and seasonal myths. People will have varying UPG for that, though.

Thanks, I've added that book to my Amazon wish list. Now I just need to win the lottery so I can buy all 39 books that are currently on it lol.

I would be interested in hearing more about your experience with Cailleach Bhearra if you're comfortable talking about it. What is She like? How do you honour Her?
Ashael Rising My debut novel, a tale of a tribal medicine woman, protecting her world from soul-sucking invaders. Crowdfunding now.

rocquelaire

Brighid and The Cailleach
« Reply #7 on: May 12, 2013, 05:00:28 am »
Quote from: Materialist;108409
How best to reconstruct them is a matter of personal preference. Since you're talking about Scottish and Irish stuff, I'll mention Gaelic Traditionalists, who reconstruct the ways of the 17th-19th centuries. This would encompass the folktales you've been studying.

For me, I prefer up to the first millennium, before Christianity took over anything, as my era of reconstruction. So the Cailleach is not a part of this, being a product of more modern times. Which means I don't see a connection between her and Brighid. But that's just me.

When it comes down to nitty-gritty details like this,  I meditate on all the research I've done, see what conclusions it points to, and if things could go either way, I cast lots to divine the answer and go with that.

Thanks for your response. Do you have any sources for the timing of these folk tales? I've found references to the Cailleach first appearing in written records around the year 1000 which is quite a bit earlier than the period you mention above for Gaelic Traditionalists.  I can't be sure how reliable that source is though so I'd like to check out more :).

Where do you find sources dating back to before the first millennium? Given that celtic traditions were oral traditions and very little was written down it seems like we're stuck with later sources to work with. I'd be really interested in any earlier sources that you've found.
Ashael Rising My debut novel, a tale of a tribal medicine woman, protecting her world from soul-sucking invaders. Crowdfunding now.

Naomi J

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Re: Brighid and The Cailleach
« Reply #8 on: May 12, 2013, 05:36:24 am »
Quote from: rocquelaire;108459
Thanks for your response. Do you have any sources for the timing of these folk tales? I've found references to the Cailleach first appearing in written records around the year 1000 which is quite a bit earlier than the period you mention above for Gaelic Traditionalists.  I can't be sure how reliable that source is though so I'd like to check out more :).

Where do you find sources dating back to before the first millennium? Given that celtic traditions were oral traditions and very little was written down it seems like we're stuck with later sources to work with. I'd be really interested in any earlier sources that you've found.

 
The name 'Cailleach' is relatively recent, as it's a Latin loan word. However, some of the Cailleach figures are much older than that, and Ó Crualaoich thinks the Cailleach archetype may have Norse roots.

Cailleach Bhearra's earlier names are Sentainne Berri or Bui, names which have roots in Proto-Indo-European, possibly meaning either 'female elder' or 'white cow', which suggests an early land goddess. She may be an evolution of earlier land goddesses in the region. She's associated with the whole of the Beara Peninsula, but particularly Dursey Island, which in Irish is named 'Oileán Baoi' for her. Locally, she's associated with mountains, the weather, and land-shaping. So her tradition may be one of an ancient Indo-European land spirit/sovereignty goddess, although scholars have a range of opinions on that one. She also has possible links with saints who are local to the area. This article is brilliant on the subject, as is the book I mentioned before. (If you can't access the article, PM me - I can help.) There's a lot I learnt about her from just going to County Cork, too - her name is dotted all over the map and she's found in every little local guide book, and there are people there who know her stories.
"We're all stories, in the end. Make it a good one, eh?"
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Re: Brighid and The Cailleach
« Reply #9 on: May 12, 2013, 05:42:44 am »
Quote from: rocquelaire;108458
Thanks, I've added that book to my Amazon wish list. Now I just need to win the lottery so I can buy all 39 books that are currently on it lol.

I would be interested in hearing more about your experience with Cailleach Bhearra if you're comfortable talking about it. What is She like? How do you honour Her?

 
It's quite difficult for me to talk about my relationship with her, as it's new (and she's fairly immense and overwhelming - and very otherworldly). But I've written about some of my experiences with her at my blog, including here. (I've attempted to tag all my posts where I reference her - see here.)
"We're all stories, in the end. Make it a good one, eh?"
- Doctor Who

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Gilbride

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Re: Brighid and The Cailleach
« Reply #10 on: May 12, 2013, 07:44:59 am »
Quote from: rocquelaire;108385
Do you consider Brighid and Bride to be the same?

 
On this one, there is no ambiguity. "St. Bride" is just the Scottish way of saying "St. Brigid," and the Scots Gaelic "Brighde" refers to the same saint as the Irish "Brighid."

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Re: Brighid and The Cailleach
« Reply #11 on: May 14, 2013, 04:25:08 pm »
Quote from: rocquelaire;108459
Thanks for your response. Do you have any sources for the timing of these folk tales? I've found references to the Cailleach first appearing in written records around the year 1000 which is quite a bit earlier than the period you mention above for Gaelic Traditionalists.  I can't be sure how reliable that source is though so I'd like to check out more :).

Where do you find sources dating back to before the first millennium? Given that celtic traditions were oral traditions and very little was written down it seems like we're stuck with later sources to work with. I'd be really interested in any earlier sources that you've found.


Oh, dearie me! Now I got to remember where I read all this stuff...Okay, the Scottish tales were orally recorded in the 19th century by too many men surnamed Campbell, such as "Popular Tales of the West Highlands" collected by John Francis Campbell and published in 1861. The poems of the Carmina Gadelica were also collected around the turn of the 20th century and published in 1928.  Earliest interest in Highland lore looks like Martin Martin in 1703 with his "Description of the Western Islands of Scotland." Outside of the Glen Masain manuscript and a list of saint legends in the 16th century, the Scots don't seem to be ones for writing stuff down. So that's why I said it's modern stuff earlier.

Cailleach around 1000, you don't say? I can only assume this is in some Goidelc manuscript of Ireland. Out of my range of study, unfortunately, but intriguing.
 
On the personal note, since you asked, there are more first millennium documents than you might think, but one must dig extra deep through the centuries of manuscripts to get to the originals. Writing entered Britain during after the Roman invasion, leaving inscriptions to various deities whose etymologies I study. Anglo-Saxons wrote tons of stuff that may reference pagan remains. There is also several Welsh poems, stone inscriptions and one prose tale that predates the Norman invasion (which totally buggered British culture, in my opinion). Archaeological discoveries also help.

So, it's there, it just takes twice as much research to find.

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Re: Brighid and The Cailleach
« Reply #12 on: May 14, 2013, 04:41:22 pm »
Quote from: Materialist;108636


So, it's there, it just takes twice as much research to find.


The only website I can think of off hand that I thought was of a Gaelic Traditionalist bent, tairis.co.uk says it's a reconstructionist organization. Maybe it was referenced in their writings or in the CR FAQ. Thought I heard it somewhere, anyway. Thirty-two years of age, 200 years of memory is my problem.:)

rocquelaire

Brighid and The Cailleach
« Reply #13 on: May 15, 2013, 01:33:06 am »
Quote from: Sophia Catherine;108464
It's quite difficult for me to talk about my relationship with her, as it's new (and she's fairly immense and overwhelming - and very otherworldly). But I've written about some of my experiences with her at my blog, including here. (I've attempted to tag all my posts where I reference her - see here.)

Thank you for all the sources and for the link to your blog. I'll definitely be looking into those further.
Ashael Rising My debut novel, a tale of a tribal medicine woman, protecting her world from soul-sucking invaders. Crowdfunding now.

rocquelaire

Brighid and The Cailleach
« Reply #14 on: May 15, 2013, 01:41:48 am »
Quote from: Materialist;108637
The only website I can think of off hand that I thought was of a Gaelic Traditionalist bent, tairis.co.uk says it's a reconstructionist organization. Maybe it was referenced in their writings or in the CR FAQ. Thought I heard it somewhere, anyway. Thirty-two years of age, 200 years of memory is my problem.:)

Thanks Materialist. I'm already familiar with tairis and a bunch of the CR reading list books are on my amazon wish list. Looks like my reading is along the same lines as you, I just need to catch up lol. I'm going to look into the Scottish folk lore books that you mentioned above.

I think part of the reason for the lack of Scottish sources may be to do with language. In my experience, you tend to find the most folklore etc in the Highlands and Islands where many people still speak Gaelic (and for a long time this was there only language. I have friends who translate into English for elderly grandparents). Most of the people trying to study and collect these tales spoke only English. Just a theory though, I could be entirely wrong!
Ashael Rising My debut novel, a tale of a tribal medicine woman, protecting her world from soul-sucking invaders. Crowdfunding now.

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