Now that snow is once again descending upon the British Isles, upon
layers of snow and ice which has not yet cleared from the blanket of
white ice which fell down about a week ago… it is very clear that
Angus isn’t doing his Job!
Yes, that is right. I laughed at a friend who went out in the snow to
celebrate the return of Bride, nearly got themselves pneumonia, and
admitted after the whole ordeal that it might have been a bit
premature. Of course it was premature! Like I said, Angus hasn’t done
his job this year (well not yet) and that it is about time that Pagans
everywhere start re-examining their lore. The festival of Candlemas,
which has been dubbed Imbolc and Bride by many of us, should probably
more rightly be in honour of the Blue Hag of Britain. Forgotten by
some, ignored by others, The Cailleach is arguably one of the most
important figures of British lore which has survived in one form or
another from antiquity through to the present day.
So what am I on about? Who is The Cailleach and who is this Angus?
Here’s the story…
During the cold harsh months of Winter The Cailleach Beira had been
keeping the beautiful Goddess Bride captive, and forcing her to wash
her brown mantle white. Angus is the son of the Cailleach, and he saw
Bride in a dream, falling in love with her at once. During the Winter
months, Angus lived on the Green Isle of the West, this is a place
where it is always summery and warm. Even though it was Winter, Angus
borrowed three days from the month of August and used it to cast a
spell on the land and on the sea, so that the Sun shone and the
weather would be fine. This is why the first three days of February
is traditionally better weathered than the rest of the month …
This year, it is clear that Angus failed. As these days were days of
snow and ice, without a doubt.
What Angus should have done during those three days, is search for
and rescue the beautiful Bride. The stories tell us that she is
usually hidden somewhere in Ben Nevis, and Angus is a “prince on a
white horse” in the most literal sense, who helps her escape on the
back of his magnificent white horse. The Cailleach Beira then in
anger strikes the Earth with her magic wand causing it to freeze over
again, sending out her hag servants to scour the land for both Angus
and Bride. The young couple however usually escapes to the Green Isle
where they are safe from the Cailleach.
Missing his homeland of Scotland, Angus can’t help himself and crossed
the sea many times to his homeland. Whenever he returned home to
Scotland the Sun would shine and the birds would sing, but his mother
would raise storm after storm to drive him away. The first wind is
the Whistle, a high and shrill wind which brings down rapid showers of
hailstones for three days and kills many animals, the second is the
Sharped Biled wind to prolong her winter, lasting nine days piercing
the land. Upon the third time that he returns the Beira raises the
Sweeper which tears through branches and rips flowers from their
stalks as it sweeps the land. However, with Angus’ help the Sun grows
strong and growth returns to the land.
But Mother dearest manages to drive Angus back to the Summer Isles
again. The next time it is the Gales of Complaint, which scatters
food and fodder, prolonging Winter’s harshness into March. But Angus
fights back and drives his Mother’s Hags North, Mummy retaliates by
gathering all her Hags together and rides forth smiting the clouds
with her magic staff, bringing the Black Tempest with them. Now it
seems that Winter would last forever, but even the Beira has to rest
sometimes. So she pauses on a cliff top and the land becomes calm.
She them borrows three days from Winter to balance the three that
Angus stole from Summer, these manifest as tempest spirits riding
black hogs, and the Beira sets them free to wreak their devastation.
These three days which are known as the Hog Days freezes the land,
killing much in their devasting and unexpected ice. But eventually
the Cailleach can no longer fight the rising tide of life in the land,
plants and animals and the next time Angus attacks the Beira’s Hag
servants are scattered to all the directions and the Beira is forced
to flee. She throws her magic wand under a holly tree (explaining why
grass never grows under a holly) and whilst fleeing she drinks from
the Well of Youth and transforms herself into a stone to escape,
returning again with the onset of Winter when her power can fully
Now the traditional day for her to turn to stone is the 25th of March
(Latha na Caillich) – which means we still have some time to go!
Supposing that Angus hasn’t forgotten about us mortals this year, and
that he isn’t instead enjoying a few extra weeks with his lovely Bride
on the Summer Isles instead!!
Whatever you do during these cold weeks, please make sure that you
stay safe and that you enjoy the warmth of those whom you love! Here
at Avalonia we are working towards the completion of a few projects,
which have been delayed by a few weeks due to a few personal matters
which had to take precedence during the last couple of months. Hence
the lack of a newsletter for the last couple of months too!
::::: Helene Hodge Obit
Regular readers of the Avalonia Newsletter may be interested to know
that Helene Hodge (PeacockAngel Incense) passed from this world in
December 2008. Helene was quite well known in London Pagan circles
for her enthusiasm about all things Goddess related, as well as for
her wonderful passionate zeal and love of all things “pongy”. There
is an obituary with a bit more information to be found at
http://www.peacockangel.com for those who remember Helene from events
in London, including regular attendance at Lapis Companions.
:::: Forthcoming from Avalonia in the next couple of months are:
1/ Visions of the Cailleach by Sorita & David Rankine – a little book
exploring the mythology, stories and magic of this British Hag Goddess
2/ A Collection of Magical Secrets, with introduction by Stephen
Skinner & David Rankine – this book contains spells, recipes and other
magical workings which formed a “Book of Secrets” bound with the MSS
which Skinner & Rankine published as part of their “Veritable Key of
Solomon”. The material should be of interest to both those interested
in the grimoire traditions, as well as those with an interest in
Traditional Witchcraft and “Kitchen” and “Hedge” Witchery, as the
overlap is phenomenal. The text was translated from the original late
18th Century French by Paul Harry Barron.
More information on the above can be found on
http://www.avaloniabooks.co.uk – preorders will open soon, keep an eye
out for announcements on this list. (If you are reading this
elsewhere, join the mailinglist
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/avalonia_news/ to be kept up to date)
::::: Ludlow Esoteric Conference
The great news is that Stephen Skinner has just been confirmed as a
speaker for this year’s conference. Stephen is of course one of the
most reknowned and amazing modern occult writers, who published his
first book in the 1960’s and has not really stopped since then. (See
http://www.sskinner.com for details of his work). In recent years Stephen
has been writing with David Rankine, producing the “Sourceworks of
Ceremonial Magic” series of books, with classics such as the
“Practical Angel Magic of Dr John Dee’s Enochian Tables” and the
recently released “The Veritable Key of Solomon”. He also co-produced
books such as The Enochian Dictionary, Techniques of High Magic and
The Search for Abraxas. He rarely makes public appearances, so this
is very exciting stuff!
The Lineup for the Esoteric conference 2009:
Stephen Skinner… The Key of Solomon.
Nigel Pennick… Runes and Magic.
Sorita D’Este… Gerald Gardener and the Book of Shadows.
David Rankine… Demonology and the Grimiore Tradition
Geraldine Beskine… Progradier and the Beast.
Philip Heselton… Mothers of Wicca.
Tickets are expected sell out, and is great value for money at just
£15 for all six speakers! Free admission to the Book Fair (with many
occult bookshops and dealers, selling a plethora of new and second
hand, including rare and hard to find titles).
Here’s how to book a ticket (and this is the old fashioned way, no
online bookings available!):
Esoteric Conference and Occult Book Fair, which will be held at the
Assembly Rooms, Ludlow, Shropshire, on Saturday, 30th May 2009, 11am
Tickets are £15 each available from:
P.O. Box 82, Craven Arms, Shropshire, SY7 8WG
Cheques payable to Verdelet please.
FFI email the online conference co-ordinator at: email@example.com
Well lovely people, where ever you may be, I wish you a wonderful week
to come — and if its here in the UK, a nice and warm one! Oh and when
you go out in this snow, please make nice with The Cailleach, make an
offering to her, or whisper something honouring her – and also please
encourage the Prince of the Summer Isles to bring us those three days
of Summer, so that we may see Bride released again and the hope of
Summer return to these Isles!!
Best wishes & Wintry Blessings,