Saturday, 7 July 2018

WALKING WITH THE CAILLEACH Part 1



Finally some paintings from my exhibition 'Tales from The Cailleach' which is showing at Loughcrew Megalithic Centre until the end of August. 
I’m posting them here in 2 parts and hope you enjoy them!

If you would like to order cards or prints please contact me via the form on my Home Page or on Facebook link HERE
WELCOME
TO TALES FROM THE CAILLEACH


STONE, ANTLER & BONE

AN ORIGINAL PAINTING BY JANE BRIDESON
Watercolour, gouache & pencil on watercolour paper

I COME TO YOU BY STONE
BY ANTLER AND BONE
BY CROWS FEET OF LAUGHTER
STRIATIONS OF TEARS
WEATHERED CONTOURS OF YOUR BODY
A LANDSCAPE OF LIFE 

I COME TO YOU BY STONE
BY ANTLER AND BONE
BY POWER OF WILDFIRE RISING
ACROSS YOUR NAKED HILLS
HOWLING LOST LOVE KEENING
LONG LABYRINTH OF NIGHT

I COME TO YOU BY STONE
BY ANTLER AND BONE
 ANCIENT RHYTHM OF THE WOMEN
AND HEARTBEAT OF HERD

I COME TO YOU BY STONE
BY ANTLER AND BONE
TO LEAD YOU THROUGH THE BLACKNESS
AND RETURN YOU TO THE LIGHT.

words © Jane Brideson 2018

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OLD AS THE HILLS 
AN ORIGINAL PAINTING BY JANE BRIDESON
Watercolour, gouache & pencil on watercolour paper

I AM AS OLD AS THE HILLS
I STIR THE LAND TO GREENING
THE HARE TO LEAP
THE DEER TO RUT
THE GRAIN TO RISE AND FALL

I AM SWEENEY’S WILD MADNESS
BIDDY’S CURSE
BEARA’S STRENGTH

I AM THE OLD WOMAN WHO WALKS THE LAND
SHARP SICKLE OF FIRST FROST
BRIGHT GODDESS OF SOVEREIGNTY IN DISGUISE

I AM STONE, ANTLER AND BONE 

I WAIT AT THE CENTRE 

IN DARKNESS WHERE ALL LIFE ENDS
IN DARKNESS WHERE ALL IS RE-BORN

words © Jane Brideson 2018

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GODDESS OF SOVEREIGNTY AT THE HAG'S CHAIR
AN ORIGINAL PAINTING by JANE BRIDESON
Watercolour, gouache & pencil on watercolour paper


Garavogue, the Cailleach of Loughcrew, sits upon the Hag’s Chair, the huge ‘horned’ kerbstone on the side of cairn T. 
The chair carved with rock art, faces north towards Polaris, the pole star. Traditionally Garavogue sat in this chair to watch the stars and to look out upon her land whenever she desired. 
As Goddess of the land she is the embodiment of Sovereignty bestowing the right to rule upon the chosen king. The king becomes her ‘husband’ by ritually embracing the Goddess and the ancestors.

In this guise as Goddess of Sovereignty the Cailleach appears in an old tale in which five brothers go out hunting in the woods. 
They get lost so decide to set up camp amongst the trees. One of the brothers goes in search of drinking-water, but finds a huge black Hag guarding the well. 
She will only give him water in exchange for a kiss but he turns away, repelled by her shape and age. 

Each of the brothers who follow also deny her a kiss except for the final bother, Niall who lies upon the land and holds her in a whole-hearted embrace. 
Immediately the Hag becomes a beautiful woman, her lips red 
“as the crimson lichen of Leinster’s crags”. 
Niall asks her who she is and prophesying his future she replies

“I AM SOVEREIGNTY 
YOUR SEED SHALL BE OVER EVERY CLAN.”


words© Jane Brideson 2018

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THE WISE WOMAN
AN ORIGINAL PAINTING by JANE BRIDESON
Watercolour, gouache & pencil on watercolour paper


In the past gifted women guided communities through life's changes.
At child birth women would turn to the Handy Woman, Bean Ghúline, the country midwife, who had visited the Otherworld to refine her skills.
At death it was the Keening Woman, Bean Chaointe, who provided an essential service at funerary rituals.
For life's troubles in between the Bean Fasa, the Wise Woman, was consulted.

One function of the Wise Woman was that of Bean Leighis, woman healer, who diagnosed the maladies of people and animals. Her knowledge encompassed cures 
for bodily ailments as well as mental disorders and afflictions which had their cause in the Otherworld.
The local Wise Woman was called upon when mysterious injuries or illnesses appeared, when the butter wouldn't come or a changeling was thought to lie in the crib. 
Accounts tell of these woman being in regular contact with the Good People, gathering herbs at dawn and dusk, often attended by a spirit and having the ability to foresee the future. 
The lore surrounding wise women describe them as almost supernatural elders, often portrayed as personifications of The Cailleach. Many were real women, such as Biddy Early, who folklore recounts, once visited 
The Cailleach at Loughcrew.

THE WISE WOMAN OFTEN OPPOSED THE CHURCH AND MAN-MADE LAW 
SHE WAS A POWERFUL FEMALE, AN AUTHORITY FIGURE VIEWED
AS AN EMBODIMENT OF OUR ANCIENT GODDESS, 
THE CAILLEACH BEARA.


words © Jane Brideson 2018
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INTO A HARE
AN ORIGINAL PAINTING by JANE BRIDESON
Watercolour, gouache & pencil on watercolour paper


NINE HAWS, NINE KNOTS, A HAG STONE BOUND IN RED. 
EYES CLOSED I SANG ARCHAIC WORDS UPON THE CHARM.
DAMP EARTH-SCENT REPLACED TURF SMOKE 
I DIMINISHED 
I RE-FORMED
A TWITCH OF WHISKERS THEN I WAS OFF ACROSS THE SILVERED LAND
PAST LONE TREE, MOUND AND SACRED WELL
AROUND THE HAG’S HILL THEN SPIRALLING FAR BEYOND 
FULFILLING WORK BEGAN AT EQUINOX.

Read her story HERE

words © Jane Brideson 2018
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THE ANCESTOR
AN ORIGINAL PAINTING by JANE BRIDESON
Watercolour, gouache & pencil on watercolour paper

Our ancestors marked the Spring Equinox within the chamber of Cairn T where the golden light at sunrise illuminates the carved ‘equinox’ stone each year.  For them this event may have signified an important turning point in the year and in the spiritual life of the people.

Folklore, from Coolea, Co. Cork, tells of the three Old Women or Hags, who are responsible for the development of nature’s growth during March.
The tale begins on Brigid's Day at the start of February when one Cailleach stands under the ground attempting to push up the vegetation whilst the other two stand above ground to keep it down.
After the middle of March the single Cailleach below is joined by one other and both push up the plants together whilst one Hag remains above ground to resist their attempts.

BY THE END OF MARCH ALL THREE HAGS ARE BENEATH THE LAND 
PUSHING UP NEW GROWTH AT SPRING.

Words © Jane Brideson 2018
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THE GREENING HARE
AN ORIGINAL PAINTING by JANE BRIDESON
Watercolour, gouache & pencil on watercolour paper
Carvings from cairn T.


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THE CAILLEACH - INSIDE CAIRN T
AN ORIGINAL PAINTING by JANE BRIDESON
Watercolour, gouache & pastel on watercolour paper

The Cailleach Beara, sits within the western recess of Cairn T on Sliabh na Caillí, part of the Loughcrew passage tomb complex, surrounded by richly decorated stones which line the mound. 
Behind her is the 'Equinox' stone in the northern recess illuminated by the rising sun at the Autumn and Spring Equinoxes. Around her neck hang some of the finds discovered in excavations of the mounds which took place in the 1860's.
The complex of Loughcrew spreads across her lap, with Patrickstown Hill to the left, Carnbane East with Cairns T, U and V at the centre and Carnbane West on the right, showing Cairns D and L. Her hands are placed in the crack of the sill stone as she connects the earth, sea, moon and sun.
Beneath the waxing moons and the Milky Way can be seen Slieve Gullion, Co. Armagh, where the southern cairn is known as the Calliagh Berra's House. 
Beneath this is a herd of red deer, the only species native to Ireland, having had a continuous presence here since the end of the last Ice Age. 
On the right lies Knowth, Co. Meath, also known as Cnoc Buí where it is believed that the ancestor, Buí, "cow like one", a name for The Cailleach, is buried.
To the left can be seen the 'Calendar Stone' from Cairn X, Loughcrew, thought to show both solar and lunar cycles. Kerbstone 15 from Knowth, also a calendar stone, sits to the right.
Below is the Hag's Tooth on Carrauntoohil, Co. Kerry and Buí's Island, off the Beara Peninsula, 
Co. Cork. And finally 

THE HAG OF BEARA 
A LEGENDARY ERRATIC STONE WHICH IS SAID TO BE 
THE CAILLEACH HERSELF.

words © Jane Brideson 2018

ART CARDS, PRINTS & MOUNTED CANVAS PRINTS AVAILABLE 


You can find the final paintings from my exhibition 
Walking with The Cailleach Part 2
HERE

9 comments:

  1. What an amazing bunch of poetry, paintings, and lore.. Well Done

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  2. You are gifted! Beautiful paintings. Beautiful words. Wow! Into A Hare brought tears to my eyes. Thanks so much for sharing.

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    1. So glad you enjoyed them Mitchell. Into a Hare features my own granny and it's a painting that has touched a lot of people.

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  3. I love each painting and story or poem! British paganism has a much greater emphasis on the relationship of the Goddess and hares than we see here in North America. One of the things I most enjoyed when I was in England about 10 years ago was all the wonderful and abundant divine hare imagery!

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  4. P.S. I know you're in Ireland and not Britain!

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    1. Hi Debra - thanks for your comments & glad you like my work. Ireland has a lot of folklore regarding hares particularly connected to The Cailleach. The story about her turning into a hare to drink milk from a cow seems to be found in all counties here.

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    2. Thank you for posting your beautiful art, words and poetry ��

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    3. Glad you enjoyed them Sunshine!

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