Saturday, November 24, 2007

The Strange Season


A supernatural hag of Gaelic popular belief, supposed to have come from Lochlann (loch land, or Norway) carrying a creel full of earth and rocks withwhich she constructed Alba. Some of the contents of her wicker-basket,accidentally fell to the west creating the Western Isles. She was described as one-eyed like the Fomors, and carried a staff which perpetually shed snow and could generate lightning. She was called the "Geamir" or game-keeper as she was the ultimate goddess in charge of the
deer, sheep, and goats of Scotland. Called in English, "The Winter Hag", her special season was "geamhradh", which the Anglo-Saxons named winter. Her domain was the Scottish highlands between Ben Cruachan in Lorn and Ben Nevis in Lochaber, and from there to the remotest islands of the Western Sea. The mate of the Cailleach is given as the Bodach, and she was a shapechanger often appearing as a gigantic Grey Mare, which stepped from mountain top to mountaintop. In winter, she jealously guarded her icy control of the land unleashing her sharks-winds and the wolf-kind against the people of Scotland as her powers declined after February. Finally at the Beltane, she "threw her hammer (symbolizing thunder and lightning and storm) under the mistletoe" and was shape-changed into the Samh, or Morrigan, the youthful mistress of the "samradh" or summer. The Scottish equivalent of the god Odin, having charge like him, of the winter winds and heading the Unsely Host, which rides through the Yule-tide season picking up the spirits of those "nach maireann" (lacking divine fire, no longer alive).

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