Sunday, 29 October 2017

Tales from The Cailleach: INTO A HARE


A sharp sickle hangs above the Lough Field.


By the hearth I rest my bones, thoughts conjured by shifting shadows.
How much reaping have I seen since those first seeds were planted?




How many harvests by scythe, then horse now harvester?


In bygone days they thought my spirit in the corn.



Cutting the Cailleach, Co. Antrim.
Pic © www.duchas.ie


At times my hare-shape, spied amongst the stalks, caused old ones to make the sign and murmur against ill-wishing.  
They recognised my power.

Still now, at my great age, I go about at harvest to fulfil my duty. 
Barley, wheat, oats and grass, all are judged for fitness.
This year was no exception.




At the swollen moon I lay besides the hearth, shawl wrapped tightly, trusting my gnarled fingers 
to remember. 

Nine haws, nine knots, a hag stone bound in red. 

Eyes closed I breathed archaic words upon the charm.




Damp earth-scent replaced turf smoke. 

I diminished, 

I re-formed.



Detail from "Into a Hare" by Jane Brideson.


A twitch of whiskers then I was off across the silvered land.


Past Lone Thorn, 


Detail from "Into a Hare" by Jane Brideson.


Shining Mound


Detail from "Into a Hare" by Jane Brideson.


and Sacred Well.


Detail from "Into a Hare" by Jane Brideson.


Around the Hag’s Hill then spiralling far beyond. 

Fulfilling work began at EQUINOX 


"Into a Hare" by Jane Brideson.



The cycle ended I sensed the wholeness in the land.


***

Next morning, an old woman once again, I rose and placed the kettle on the range for tea.




The phone rang. 
I knew that smiling voice,  “All’s well?” 
“ Yes. The harvest’s saved, great goodness in the grain this year. 
 We’ll celebrate at Samhain so?” I asked.

“Ah, we will of course” came his reply. We laughed and I could see that twinkle in his eye. 
The Dagda’s parties were legendary.