Celtic traditions contained a rich lode of myths about a divine Old Woman. In Gaelic (both Irish and Scottish)she is called the Cailleach (from caille, mantle or veil, thus veiled one.) [The Q-Celtic word cailleach is related to the Latin pallium, which survived as the name for a priestly stole. MacKenzie thinks cailleach originally signified a nun, but the ancient traditions predate Christianity. 137] This is not a veil of modesty—the cailleachan are wild—but of mystery.
The Cailleach has universal qualities; she is not a goddess of fertility or death or any one thing, but a deity who is both transcendent and immanent. She is connected with rivers, lakes, wells, marshes, the sea, and storms; with rocks, mountains, boulders, megalithic temples and standing stones; and with cattle, swine, goats, sheep, wolves, bird, fish, trees, and plants. Scots call her the Old Wife of Thunder.
The Cailleach sometimes assumes the shape…
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