Cailleach: Dreaming about Archetypical Energy


The Cailleach is an ancient mother Goddess associated with winter and rejuvenation. Cailleach means “the Veiled one”. She is the giant blue faced goddess of winter, associated with death as well as with rebirth. The resemblance between her and the subject of my holy nights dreaming event 2016-17: Frau Holle are remarkable…



Frau Holle
Art: Otto Ubbelohde

For those who are interested: it’s still a long time but each winter I organize an online dreaming event to tune in to that special time of dreaming, using incubations.  The dream we will look at today is from Sage Abella, one of the participants of that event.

Both Frau Holle and the Cailleach are connected to the realm of death and birth as goddesses of fertility. Both reign the time between Samhain (November 1) and Beltane (May 1). And both goddesses guide people through inner realities and dreams…

Calleach Queen of Winter

In her book The Calleach, Rachel Patterson tells us this about the origin of this Goddess: “She is probably most well-known for her landscaping, with many mountains, caves and landmarks named after her. She is therefore strongly associated with the elements of both land and water.”.

Art: Thalia Took

In this Mindfunda I want to tell you more about this rejuvenating blue old witch (and you know by now that I don’t use that word in a bad way).

The Cailleach is thought to drink of the water of a sacred well each year that rejuvenates her.

This dream was shared with me by Sage Abella, who also created the image on the top of this blog. She had incubated this dream. Incubation is a technique were you concentrate at a certain question during the day and especially before you fall asleep.

Sage says in her mail to me: “I actually went to sleep incubating a dream for an answer about if now is the right time for me to enter a specific spiritual learning path with a teacher”.

I have put my own remarks between quotation marks and in cursive, between the text of the dream.

Giving Offering To The CAILLEACH

I’m on the shore in Scotland. I’ve been taken down a steep cliff to a narrow band of rocky shoreline below.
The opening scene places the dreamer “between firm land and fluid sea, which might symbolise the encounter between conscious and unconscious; the known world and the unknown; or thought and emotion” Margaret M. Bowater in Heeling the Nightmare Freeing the soul (a book soon to be reviewed on Mindfunda). 
There are two elements that meet here: water and earth (the rock from the shoreline), it must be a holy place, a place of transformation of the personal (the water) and the universal (the rock). Given that in our culture gods and goddesses usually live high upon a mountain, stone or rock in this dream has a spiritual meaning for me. If it was my dream, the opening scene would introduce me as dreamer to an existential spiritual question.
The woman who brings me here is named Jewels. She’s all dressed in white and has long red hair.
Triple Goddess
Artist unknown to me
In this part of the dream the first dream character is introduced: a red haired lady named Jewels. This is an introduction to the manifestation of the triple Goddess: the dreamer, Jewels and the Cailleach.
Hair in a dream is often associated with thoughts that originate from the head. The colour red can mean that the dreamer is really passionate about this new course she wants to get involved in. And the colour red is associated with the mother goddess, while white is associated with the daughter and black is associated with the Crone Goddess”.

Cailleach and Corn

She fills a cloth bag between my hands with something fine and white (like sand – no, salt-no, cornmeal – nourishing like cornmeal, but not cornmeal). She says, “Take this and put it at the feet of the Mother.”
“In the book  The Dancing Goddesses: Folklore, Archaeology, and the Origins of European Dance Elizabeth Wayland Barber writes:
“The reapers stood back and 
each in turn cast his reaping hook at the standing sheaf of corn  in an effort to cut it. When finally one go the reapers succeeded in cutting the last sheaf-the Cailleach or the old woman representing the corn (grain) just harvested-the sheaf was taken home and placed around the neck of the farmers’ wife during the harvest supper. The grain was ribbed off and mixed with the grain being sown in the springtime. In this way the continuous cycle of death and resurrection of the corn was shown”.
So, in this part of the dream the cycle of death and resurrection are introduced. What has to die here? Old knowledge? A clue might be found on the place were the corn has to be offered.

Cailleach and Feet

Where? She points to the edge where the ocean meets the shore. There are huge, giant feet down there and a woman so tall I can’t begin to see anything but her feet and lower calves.
In his excellent book The Dream Interpretation Dictionary J.M.DeBord writes:
“Feet in a dream can refer to where you “stand” meaning convictions, values, issues, beliefs, opinions and principles. we may say that a person “stands” for one thing or another…. What you stand on is your character, your personality, your personal foundation.”
If it was my dream, to me the dream seems to suggest to the dreamer to re-evaluate her inner knowledge, the basis of her assumptions about life and the cycle of life and death. 
Cartoon: Scott Hilburn
I sprinkle the white offering in a circle around her feet. Then the tide goes out, the ocean pulls way back, the waves going out beyond where I can see. It’s like the moment between an in breath and out breath but the rhythm of a Great breath.
What a beautiful ending of the dream. The mandala, the symbol of the Self sprinkled around the base of the Goddess of death and creation, while the line between conscious and unconscious begins to fade because the dreamer starts to wake up.

Cailleach: Vision of the Dreamer

In any dream, the interpretation of the dreamer herself is the most important. This is what Sage mailed me about her insights in the dream.
I called an Irish friend of mine to see if she could tell me more (I have some strong Scottish ancestry that I don’t know much about). She started telling me stories of the Cailleach, the Great Mother, Great Hag who forms the landscape. She said the way I described the feet was like stone which reminded her immediately of descriptions of the Cailleach, some legends of her entering the sea for cycles of rejuvenation. And the most striking thing to me is she said that the offering I was giving, the way I could describe it so specifically but couldn’t exactly tell what it was sounds exactly like bone meal and Cailleach gathers the forgotten bones of animals, people and beings to grind and bake into bread to feed the people. I got chills when she described all that and shared the stories she knows.
The dreaming landscape is so magnificent! I was gifted such a beautiful dream from a part of the world the blood in my veins flows from but have never gotten the opportunity to visit. How does that happen? So cool! And offerings to the Great Mother from your side of the ocean. I’m blessed by this dream for sure.
Sage I hope that my blog has helped you explore more layers of meaning in this remarkable dream.
Reader, let me know what yo think, I would love to hear your remarks



What is Mindfunda about?

My name is Susanne van Doorn, I am a Dutch psychologist, blogger and author. I have been working with psychology, dreams and mythology ever since I finished my study in psychology at Tilburg University. I made this independent site to share insights, and recent scientific articles about the brain, dreams, and mythology for use in your personal life.

Read more about Mindfunda here, or visit our Courses Page.

1 thought on “Cailleach: Dreaming about Archetypical Energy”

  1. Pingback: The Blessing of the Groundhog | Dream Studies Portal

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