Sunday, 22 March 2015

Spring & The Three Hags.

Cailleach Bheara - a commission for a resident living near the Bheara Peninsula, Co.Cork.
At the Spring Equinox, when the hours of daylight and darkness are equal, it feels that we are held
at a place of balance between Summer and Winter.
Here the past few days have been full of sunlight and gentle warmth as the crows build their
nests and the trees begin to green but this morning saw a frost return to the land.

In Ireland we have no evidence or folklore to support the idea that the Celts celebrated a festival
at this point in the year, however an old story from Coolea, Co. Cork tells of the three Cailleach,
Old Women or Hags, who are responsible for the development of growth during March.
The tale begins on Brigid's Day at the start of February when one Hag, described as
a 'veiled one', stands under the ground attempting to push up the vegetation whilst the two other
Hags stand above ground to keep it down.
After the middle of March the single Cailleach below is joined by another and both push up the
plants together whilst one Hag remains above ground to resist.
By the end of the months all three Hags are beneath the land pushing up the new growth for Spring.

In a time before the Celts, the Neolithic people were aware of the Equinoxes and
this knowledge of astronomy and the landscape can be seen at many sites across the island.

 Spring Equinox solar alignments at Grianán of Aileach, Co. Donegal & Gossan Stones, Co. Wicklow.

The most well known of these sites is probably Cairn T on Sliabh na Caillí, "the hag's mountain"
in Co. Meath, part of the Loughcrew Megalithic complex. 
The sun's rays at the Equinox sunrise shine down the passageway of the cairn to illuminate an 
inner chamber.
Slowly the light travels across the rear stones shining on the megalithic stone carvings...

© Clare Tuffy

bringing the sun into the body of the land and into the place of the ancestors ...

The Cailleach painting : here
until the home of the Cailleach returns to darkness once more.

To see this special event please watch Michael Fox's video below :

For more information on the Grianán of Aileach please visit the Unknown Swilly blog HERE
The Gossan Stones can be found HERE

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