Sunday, 28 October 2018

The Magic of The Cailleach

'Mother of the Herd - Rebirth'

The year turns its’ back on summer and it is only now that I have processed my experiences at
‘Tales from The Cailleach’, my exhibition held upon The Hill of The Hag, which began in July.

As an artist there is always uncertainty about showing my work, especially at a solo exhibition.

Would anyone enjoy it?

Who would visit a room filled with paintings of old women in an age when youth is so highly prized? 

My time of serious doubt came the night before the opening, when it was too late to cancel, 
so I went ahead still uncertain.  

Would my visions of The Cailleach, created in solitude, speak to others?

The venue, Loughcrew Megalithic Centre, was the perfect setting, as folklore about The Old Woman is abundant there,
so I felt at least I would enjoy the sacred landscape.

However, there was no need for doubt. 
The Cailleach wove her magic in this special place.

'Into a Hare'

In the months that followed the space filled with candlelight and incense, 
laughter and tears as visitors came face to face with Herself.

Some of the visitors to ‘Tales from The Cailleach’

There was recognition, releasing, connection and joy as the room became a place for conversation, 
the reunion of old friends and meetings of like-minded souls.

Di and Sue, a friend from my school days.

Wendi with 'Autumn Equinox'

Stories were told of how The Cailleach had touched lives, not only here in Ireland 
but across many lands and cultures.

Bathed in sunshine for most of the summer, the courtyard hosted long conversations over coffee and cake.

Artist Lar Dooley and Seán Gilmartin discuss Irish mythology.

Authors whose work I admire came to see The Cailleach.

Dr. Sharon Blackie with 'The Goddess of Sovereignty on The Hag's Chair'.

Anthony Murphy of Mythical Ireland

Visitors came from near and far leaving messages, hag stones 
and an abundance of gifts to be treasured.

This beautiful bracelet arrived in the post from a Finnish visitor. 

Made by Kalevala Jewellery it depicts the Little Bird, a messenger between humans and the gods, 
the tiny bell is said to mimic the bird’s language. 

Kalevala was founded by writer Elsa Heporauta to fund a statue honouring Finnish women.
Today the company is owned by the Kalevala Women's Association.
You can read about the history of Kalevala Jewellery HERE

One gift now travels with me in the car.

Pilgrimages were made to the cairn and offerings left to the Old Woman on the hill.

Offerings on The Hag's Chair

Local people came regularly to share their tales and as the exhibition ended I was filled 
with stories of how The Cailleach had touched many lives.

From my feelings of insecurity and uncertainty had grown the confidence to walk proudly beside 
the Old Woman.

I made my own visit to cairn T as the summer waned.
I brought no offerings but left a promise within the silent darkness of the mound.

And now a seed is planted for a new project to take root in the dark months.

The Cailleach still offers me her inspiration.