Gaidheal-blog

Gaidheal-blog

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This is the main blog for the fellowship Comhaltacht na nGaedheal: Cairdreabh nan GĂ idheal. Edited and managed by Rob Barton

First Snow

Gaelic culture and religion.Posted by Rob Barton Tue, December 06, 2016 02:49AM
An Cailleach has come.... Failte Mathair nan Diathan (Welcome Mother of the Gods)..... today was first snow.... so now winter is truly on us..... Brighid is at her rest - for a time....and for a time the hammer blows of of the cold will fall onto our world...... a world that has become an anvil.

She is the Blue Faced Hag...... she is the Veiled One.... like the veiled peaks of the mountains.... mountains built by her hands..... these cold winds will scream through the peaks and across the valleys..... the sound of a wailing darkness...... a Great Darkness is upon us.... and it is as it should be..... it is as it has always been.

Her darkness is something great .... it is something that should be embraced...... hugged and held close.... it is her gift to us.... it is an ancient gift.... a gift that many cannot or will not understand.... wilful ignorance??? ... maybe..... or maybe just fear of the dark.

We think of winter now..... so many do not like it...... but it was different.... once - long ago - when the world was different..... what was winter - the Great Darkness - like in that world... a world where the ancestors walked??? What was winter like???.....

.....It is during the Darkness that the people are together..... food is plenty.... the harvest has just passed so grains... beans... roots... are stored everywhere.... there is a supply of butter.... the end of summer saw a slaughter of the animals that would not be wintered over..... and so the meat has been preserved and great pieces of it are hanging in the rafters where the smoke gathers and protects it.... sausages... hams.... bacon..... a fire burns constantly and a pot simmers over it...... honey is gathered in pots and skins are tied tightly on them to keep the kids out... so many kids.... running everywhere..... always noisy and always smelly... and always beautiful...

The young men who had taken to the hills with the herds.... just after the crops were put in.... they are back home now... after months being away in the hills and forests.... the young warriors and hunters are back from the forests.... those who journey in the summer are home now..... those who were away learning from poets and priests - they are home too...... the Great Darkness is also the Great Homecoming when everyone is home and the houses and halls are crowded.

Very little work is done outside during the short days..... but these long nights.... so much is done.... as tales are recited and songs sung.... the fireside work of winter is going on all around.... some fingers are spinning..... someone is carving to repair handles broken over the summer..... leather is being cut and sewn.... clothes are being sewn and made.... horse tack is being fixed and the handy craft sorts of things are going on around the fire..... there is a buzz of activity and voices all around..... until a young poet begins a tale learned over the summer and then silence - save that one lone young voice.... speaking.... singing.... sharing.... the smells of smoke...food...people... leather... wool.... the scent of the hair of some child that has fallen asleep against your chest.... the sound of someone snoring somewhere out of the way...

That was - is - the gift of the Great darkness of An Cailleach .... you see..... her great winter.... her howling winds.... her hammer blows upon the world..... they drove the people inside... together...... around the hearth.... the hearth became the anvil upon which those hammer blows moulded the people..... it was then that each generation learned so many things from the last generation.... this is where they were the most together..... this is where people were woven into a people... a tapestry.... this is where the tales were heard and the songs sung..... and memories shared an ancestors - friends - remembered....

An Cailleach is called the mother of many gods and of many tribes..... this is how she mothers us..... she teaches us to hold one another close... against the cold..... she teaches us how to be a people....... so there is much to be celebrated in her Great Darkness and the storms of her hammer blows..... when the howling in the peaks are calling to us to go home.... to be warm and with our people.... why ever fear the dark... the cold... the howling??? Welcome it.... welcome the Great darkness.... welcome Herself....