Crone in Corrogue: Wild Wisdom of the Elder Years

Glorying in the elder years, a time of spirituality, service and some serious sacred activism

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Cailleach Moon

Some mark Samhain over the 31st October to 2nd November period. Others like to wait for the cross-quarter day, like my Druid friend John; this is a variable date but is astrologically Sun at 15 degrees Scorpio. Personally, I like to celebrate the dark moon in Scorpio. Partly, it is because I was Dark Moon in Scorpio moon born. So I revel in my natal vibe. Now, in my crone years, I especially value the special magic of the dark of the moon at the darkest time of year. On November 18th, we have a dark moon in Scorpio, which I call the Cailleach moon.


Where I live in Ireland, we don't have light pollution. When we have a dark moon, or heavy cloud cover, at this time of year, it feels a velvet darkness. Conjure it as a cloak of invisibility or invincibility. I liken  it a theatre's heavy proscenium that has been dropped. The division between the worlds is just the thickness of the very curtains that we draw at lighting up time. The world takes on a muffled quality.  We have entered the season of the Cailleach.

The woodlands are stripped bare of leaves. The forest floor is cloaked in shed leaves that are composting down. The sky is a milky white, the cloud cover shading more than shadowing the murky daylight hours. It truly is shade time. The Cailleach knows about both shade and shadow.

The dark of the moon is traditionally a time for banishing negativity, for sending away potentially hostile energy. But before I take up that work I consider nature and the trophic cascade. 

Trophic Cascade is how ecologists explain how if you eradicate one species there is a domino effect on the entire ecology of a site. They removed wolves from Yellowstone and that impacted on the deer population, which impacted on tree damage, which in turn created erosion that altered water courses. They have put the predator back in place and now things are picking up because even the one that is labelled 'evil' or 'destructive' or 'negative', actually has a positive function in maintaining the balance of the whole.

We do well to consider trophic cascade when we do any banishing that is part of protection work.




These are called St. Brigid's Blessing and Cursing Stones. They are in a field owned privately in the next town, about five miles from us. Before St. Brigid took stewardship of this sacred site it was likely a a place sacred to the cult of Crom Cruich, the underworld god of choice for this landscape that is pocked with dolines and caves. Turn one of the bullaun stones (and leave a coin in the depression it fits into) and you bless.  A counterclockwise  turn will lay a curse.

The Cailleach is fierce, sometimes harsh. She cuts things down to their bone. She is rock and cold. She is the North. But they do not call it 'true north' for nothing.

What feels like a curse may turn out to be a blessing. We need to be mindful of the trophic cascade in our human relations. We may not know what is the highest good for all concerned.  While we may need to do emergency protection work at times, we need to consider that even the most cursed of evil doers might well  have a place in the grander scheme of things. 

There are always consequences. Crones, like the Cailleach, know this intrinsic truth.  Crones are well able for them, too.

So, go on! Be the Crone you want to see! Use the dark of this Cailleach moon wisely.



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Bee Smith has enjoyed a long relationship with SageWoman as a contributor, columnist and blogger. She lives in the Republic of Ireland, teaches creative writing and is a member of the Irish Art Council's Writers in Prisons panel. She is the author of "Brigid's Way: Celtic Reflections on the Divine Feminine."    


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