The Cailleach’s Cloak
Outside the temperature is dropping, winter is definitely here and She is drawing her cloak over my part of the world. The Oak’s leaves are slowly falling to the ground, their colour a gorgeous shade of umber drifting to the ground creating a carpet of ready to protect and mulch the tender ground. But even has the Oak joins the Maple, Elm, Blackthorn and Ash in losing leaves and slowly descending into their winter slumber, a great time of fertility and greening is abounds. The lilies have begun to rise, as has the jonquils and dutch irises. The nettles reach for the sky, seeking light. The grass begins to grow anew as the weather brings dew, frost and rain. Nature is coming to life even as some of her begins to disappear.
Winter is the time we look forward to here. Tanks get refilled, gardens get a much needed soaking and the vast pastoral tract I live in begins to parade the various shades of green as crops begin to grow. For a time often spoken of in hushed tones, winter here is celebrated. It gets cold here, don’t mistake me on that, sometimes even to below 0, but there is so much to see, to revel in, to experience. The sun provides some warmth so greenhouses become hives of activity as tender seedlings slowly unfurl and greet the day. It is a time to organise the garden, to begin building new ones and work on the old ones. It is a time for quiet and contemplation, for the days are shorter, the nights longer. As the dark begins to close in earlier and earlier, you appreciate the daylight hours and realise the nights are for books, hot tea and warmth.
As I curl up with a good book, hearing the howling outside, I am reminded of the wholeness of the world outside, the vastness of what lies before us. As the wind tears leaves from trees and wrests away wayward branches, I am reminded of the sheer awesome power that flows and ebbs, of my place as Keeper and Steward of my land and the Spirits who inhabit it. I hear the horses whinny outside, the fox call during the night, the sheep who bleat, the owls reminding us that they own the night and the small creatures who scurry about, little nails on the roof, and those that dig to hide beneath the surface. They all seek to hide, thrive or survive the coming winter. As I sit I can feel the great Cailleach drawing her cloak over me, embracing me within her earthen mass. I hear her most often now, although she is never truly quiet at any time of the year. Old Woman wants her offerings and thanks for the season ahead and I oblige her for I am grateful that winter has come.