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The Cailleach

Short Story Written by Eva Greenslade.

Its summers end, the air around us changing, the scent in the air is crisp and clear, darkness envelopes our evenings, the earth prepares for her long rest.

We have met with Samhain, at the northwest point of the wheel of this years cycle.

The landscape around us begins to loose the bright colours of life, apart from the greens that carpet the hills and mountans, the browns of the sleeping trees, the black shapes of the crows through the skies.

A cave in the mountains is awakening as the goddess of youth now ages within the belly of the earths womb, it is her aging that brings our earth’s changes at this time.


This lady is woven deeply within the fabrics of these lands, she emerges from the cave. A cloak shrouding her shoulders, a crooked staff of yew in hand, her face hard to see, as she looks down, hunched over, with her gated hobbly walk. 

‘Caww caww’, a crow swoops down and lands on her shoulder, as she starts out across the land.


She is, the night hag, the hag of Berra, the witch of the North, the bringer of frost, the taker of souls. The washer woman, as she can be seen to wash the clothes of the dead, unburdening them. She is a shapeshifter, a walker between worlds.

She fights against the life of spring as she clears the lands with her frosts.

She is the ancient Cailleach.  The keeper of knowledge of all that these lands hold.  She walks alone knowing, sensing, all that has been, and all that is to come.

Those who come across her and live to speak of her, because it wasnt their time to cross the veil, tell tales of her deep penetrating eyes.  Eyes that when they look into your eyes, see the very imprint of your soul, she can see everything within you, your past your future.  It is said her gaze alone can release your burdens,  jusr as she releases the leaves off the tree and sends the earth to sleep. She may at times gift you a piece of Yew in exchange for your burdens, the Yew will guide you between realms in these times when the veil is thinnest.  

For she is not really to be feared, it is her ancient wisdom, the unknown, that people fear as the landscape changes, the darkness hangs over us shortening our days, and the veil between worlds is thin. It is the unknown of how a maiden becomes a mother, then looses her apparent beauty as she appears as a crone, a hag. It is the winter lands she brings they fear, the lack of crops, the death.

But, when you look back at her, back into her eyes you see the light of her youth, and the wisdom within.

It takes courage to do so, and courage to bear our soul to enable us to transform, to release the burdens of this life, that we get use to carrying. and seek her guidance, soul to soul.

A Short Ritual

For this short time I invite you to call her closer, to ask her to release your burdens from this past year. So you may step forward into the next year of this celtic calender, ready to settle into winter and spring once more, clear and focused.


Leave her an offering in return. Perhaps an offering of Soul Cake (its easy to find a recipe)

Repeat her names 7x :

Winter hag

Hag of Berra

Ancient witch


X 7


Now imagine The Cailleach step forward, a cauldron in hand.


Take a moment to look into eyes, then write your burdens reflecting back at you, on paper and walk towards her. Put your paper in her Cauldron, to release what no longer serves you.

In return she gifts you a piece of yew.

Thank her for her presence, and release her to walk off into the stirrings of winter to help our lands and its children rest.

Blessed be Cailleach.

Blessed be to you people reading this story, and performing your own ritual. May you be protected, grounded, humble, peaceful, loved, and walk firward into life lighter and in focus and connection with your soul.


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