The Cailleach by Rachel Patterson, Moon Books Publisher
For such a little book Rachel Patterson´s new Pagan Portals offering ¨The Cailleach¨ provides a satisfying blend of scholarship, folklore, humor, and personal experience. As a newish member of the pagan community I am hungry for information about the gods and goddesses of my ancestors. The Cailleach, with her attributes of winter and rocks and transformation, so infuses the wintry world I have always called home that I was drawn to learning more of her.
I found that I thoroughly enjoyed the tone and the structure of this book as it laid out the information in a format that is similar to ways in which I prefer to learn and share learning. I found the information, for an introductory book, to be enough but not too much. Others may be looking for more information on the Craft, or on pathworking than is presented here but this provides an excellent introduction before delving into meatier fare.
Patterson researches the folklore of Britain to find the Cailleach and follows her tendrils through story even to the Iberian peninsula, Scandinavia, and Romania among other places. She highlights the similarities of the goddesses described in these tales and pulls the themes together to provide a fully formed image, frequently humorous, that enabled me to approach what I had feared was to be a frightening goddess. I came away actually wanting to know more of her and to discover the places where she has left her footprints in my life.
The folk tales provide the grounding for the rest of the book. What follows them is a very straightforward and practical disquisition on the symbols and correspondences that refer to and call on the Cailleach, ways to connect with and honor her, and most of interest to me, the lessons that can be learned from her if you choose to follow.
I found those lessons to be powerful for my own personal development: the cycle of life, the release of fear, transformation, hidden things, the importance of ancestral knowledge, guidance, and forgiveness. Patterson warns though that the Cailleach has a deserved reputation for kicking butt and that to enter into a relationship with her means that you will be held to an accounting; no lolly gagging on the spiritual superhighway because she will make you move and do the work. She is not above scaring you into desired behaviors as it is said that she frightens wild animals into hibernating so that they will survive the winter.
She seems a very complex goddess but one worth knowing.