The Cailleach’s icy grip holds the earth as firm as iron. Her cold blue skin reflects the chilly sky above, and her frozen blood is as hard as all the water across the earths face. She squeezes tight crushing the heat out of all living things, until all comes to rest, still and pure as the snow cloak she throws across the land. All life shivers under her gaze, and she strides with confidence from the mountain heights of her domain, down into the soft green valleys. Her breath curls like frozen dragon smoke, creeping into the far corners of the earth, under doors and widow frames, sucking the warmth out of the heart of life itself. A sweep of her ice hammer sends blizzards whirling through the air and the land holds its breath. Snow tumbles in giant feathers as though shaken from the Cailleach Bhearra’s duvet, swirling in swarms as thick as summer bees, weaving Winters shimmering cloak and Winters entrancing realm. Her cold blue power is unchallenged, and she laughs with triumph, sending all who would live scurrying for shelter from her frozen dreams.
Yet the fire of life lies hidden in tiny sparks, far from the grasping fingers of Winter, far from the frozen gaze of the Cailleach. Deep within the earth, deep within all living creatures, a core of heat and light lies waiting for the defeat of the old blue hag, by Brighde, Bride, the daughter of the sun. Her flame and her pure white wand will release the iron grip, and water and milk will flow once more throughout the land. She will fly from her prison deep in the mountains of the Cairngorms and banish Winter for another year, but the Cailleach Bhearra will fight hard and fierce before she flees. The worst of Winters storms are yet to come even as the sun grows in strength and length. The golden flames of Imbolc’s candles encourage and entice Bride to free us all from the Hag’s cold dark prison, but beware, for the Blue Hag of Winter will grow wild and angry as she loses her grip on the earth…..