Sustainability, Reeducation, and Reinvention

El Pensador de Rodin – CC BY-SA 3.0 by Emiliorisoli

Sustainability means reinvention to some degree.  It means an ability to improvise in your life, adjust to changes, and allowing yourself and ability to be relevant in relation to times, markets, current events, and so on.

Life moves on, and so should we … Stagnation kills.

When looking at sustainability and reinvention, some questions you might consider are:

  • What are the different ways we can apply our skills to maximize our success in this changing world?
  • What are the different formal educational and re-educational efforts we need to make to promote sustainability in an ever-changing world?
  • How can we acquire informal education in order to stay relevant and sustain our life and living?
  • Work-life balances (not an easy thing to achieve in our world and culture).

I’ve been looking at each of these different questions in regard to reinvention, sustainability, and happy living.  Indeed, many friends in my age group and in the generation ahead of me, has had to re-examine these things rather specifically. With the loss of savings and retirement because the 2007 crash of the market, many of us has found our 401(k)s going south for the winner and staying there (you would think the “south” was doing much better than it is – aka Joke).

There is also the problem of job markets for an older generation. Yes, you might find a position at McDonald’s, but is that going to help sustain you? As older workers are displaced by a younger generation, we have to find our way in the world where retirement is now a part of our mythology.

This is conversely true for younger and mid career workers who are waiting for older workers to retire. What do you do when the old Guard can’t retire, and you are left working numerous jobs in order to survive?

I personally am facing many of these issues, and I have many friends who are facing these issues as well. Many of us are actively seeking to reinvent ourselves, achieving hoped for relevancy in a trying market. There are several options to our reinventions: we can going to business for ourselves, we can gain new skills so that we can be hired full-time, and we can change our living conditions, making it more sustainable to fully live on a smaller income.

Regarding this conundrum and the questions I outlined above, here are a few thoughts I have on each question, and maybe some of this will be relevant to you as well.

What are the different ways we can apply our skills to maximize our success in our world?

If you lived life, you have many skills!  It is time to look at your skills and determine how they might help sustain you and help you make a living.  Your skills do not only come from jobs your have worked, but everyday life. Maybe you excel at organization, managing other, fundraising, cooking, cleaning, growing things, and so many other skills. These everyday life skills can transfer to a job of some type!

The AARP has a good article on skill set recognition you might be interested in: Do you Know Your Skill Set?

How to find a job that fits those skills:

Make a list of what you do well, and use that to find jobs.  Here are some resources for this effort:

O*NET — the Occupational Information Network – which is a government sponsored “tool for career exploration and job analysis!”

National Business Service alliance offers the WorkSearch Assessment System – to help you place your skills with the right market. – Recommended by AARP

Should you see yourself as a commodity?

One piece of advice I came up with, over and over again, as I researched this was: “Develop a strong personal brand – YOU are the product.

This is our world’s “cup of Kool-Aid” presently, at least here in the US. In the 1980s in the 1990s it was all about multitasking; today it’s about PR, and promoting yourself as a product … a thing to be bought and sold, negotiated over and transformed.

Maybe I have read too much Marxism in my life, but this smells a great deal of commodification and fetishization of self. I am not a product to be objectified. I am a human being with human being needs. To be objectified is a problem. We objectify so much in our culture, the last thing we need to do is objectify ourselves by selling our self as a product for a few measly bucks.

You are not a brand. You are a human being with skills that can be marketed. You’re marketing your skills, not yourself as an object to be bought, sold, and manipulated. Yes, networking is important, whom you know is important, and the relationships you create are important, and how you promote your skills … important, but you are not a thing. A great deal of our unhappiness in this world can be traced back to commodification and Fetishization of self. Just say no!

What are the different educational and re-educational efforts we need to make to promote sustainability in an ever-changing world?

First, we have the category of formal education outlets: Find a technical college, a program at a community college, or get a new degree at a four-year institution.

Drawbacks to Gaining a Formal Education: 

The biggest drawback to getting an education from a higher learning institution is expense. The cost for a higher learning education has grown exponentially over the last few years. According to College Data, the price for one year of college education, for a moderate college in an in-state public setting, 2013 to 2014, averaged approximately $23,000. If you were looking at a private college, that price tag is more like $44,750.

If you already have a college degree, and you’re looking at reeducation, you may not be interested in paying close to $150,000 for a new degree. And of course, these figures reflect undergraduate and not graduate education. Graduate education is often one third more in intuition, and these numbers do not reflect the amount of money you will be paying out for books.

Cost of NOT having a formal higher education today:

If you do not already have a formal higher education, you just might want to get one! According to Pew Research, workers who do not have a college degree will earn up to $17,500 a year less than they’re educated counterparts working the same job. 

Further, without a college degree, you may find jobs are not available to you. More and more often, even the most common labor jobs (including McDonalds cashiers) are requiring a college degree, limiting the market to those who are educated and have “drunk from the Kool-Aid.” 

How can we informally acquire reeducation to stay relevant and sustain our life and living?

Self Education:

If you are self-motivated, you can get your own education without paying a dime. The problem is that this education will not necessarily be “formalized,” or have that “official stamp of approval.” It’s amazing how this world respects the buying and purchasing of education, but not the acquiring of solid knowledge through personal effort and practice. So, for those of you who just simply love to acquire knowledge, beware. You might be better off buying yourself a degree.

NOTE: I am NOT sanctioning this method. I am a college teacher and would never tell you to buy a degree, it is meant tongue-in-cheek, as sarcasm for a screwed up prioritized system.

Here are some resources in this area:

Exploring continuing education courses in your backyard – where you work:

Many employers offer the ability to acquire continuing education. Many companies will actually pay part of the cost for going back to school and gaining new skills. There are workshops offered, conferences, and other such resources. Find out what resources are available to you, and use them. You would be amazed how often these resources are left to the wayside, unused and unexplored, along with our vacation hours! These resources are part of your “benefits” package. Don’t let them go to waste.

Seeking a mentor, acquiring a “folk” education, or taking on an apprenticeship:

Many people are taking their expertise and bringing it to the World Wide Web. There are many classes out there that will help you achieve your goals, and in this way you can find a mentor, a folk education, or an apprenticeship.

Mentors:

You’re never too young or old for a mentor. Mentors are people who happen to know the skills needed to succeed in a certain area in life, skills that you may wish to acquire. He or she can help you achieve your goals and dreams, and you can find a deep and satisfying life long friendship with your mentor. Sometimes mentors come into our lives and exit as quickly as they seem to have come on the scene. Other mentors stay with you for a very long time. Sometimes you switch roles with your mentors, and you become the leader for a short period of time. These are fulfilling partnerships. Seek them!

I really enjoyed this article by Zenalda Lorenzo, on Huffington Post, about why mentoring is important.

Indeed, today I sought out two friends, who have skills that I greatly admire, and ask them to be my mentors. The best way to learn is to reach out to those who know the skills that you wish to acquire.

Get a Folk Education: 

I define a folk education as a type of mentorship that offers formal instruction, and you’re paying for the knowledge, but you’re not going to get a certificate that’s accepted widely. There are benefits and drawbacks to this approach. The benefit is that often this type of education is a little less expensive. The person offering the education is normally well known in his or her field, and s/he can give you the real life tools you need to succeed. The drawback is that many in your community will not likely formally recognize the certificate and/or the value of the instruction. Credentials being what they are in our world.

I am taking this route myself right now as I learn herbalism. I am going to Sage school, and I’m getting a wonderful education in herbalism and holistic health. But because I will not have any kind of “official” certificate or degree at the end of the program, my skills and how I can market those skills will be limited – simply because of the world we live in and how we value the acquisition of knowledge. But still, for myself, it has been a rewarding experience.

If you take this direction in your education, research your instructors! Anybody can be an “expert” on the Internet. You never know if you’ve come up with somebody who’s just very clever with how they sell themselves, or if you’re dealing with someone who really has the knowledge that is claimed. This approach means that you have to be proactive, do the research to find out if you’re putting your money in a good place.

Apprenticeships:

Before the world of formal education, we had apprenticeships! Depending upon the culture you were born into, you may have been fostered out to a family, and taught a skill that would support you for life. In more modern times, people might’ve been apprenticed out to different businesses in order to acquire a life long working skill. Not too long ago, in the grand scheme of things, my father went through an apprenticeship to become an electrician. Indeed, the electrician union still provides apprenticeship opportunities.

Find yourself an apprenticeship. Of course, apprenticeships don’t normally pay, as you work for the person or the business, while you learn a trade. It is a trade-off, but a fair one in the end. If you can afford this trade off, I highly suggest it. Learning from an expert, and gaining hands-on, real life training is very important for many trades.

Work-life balance

The final thing I want to talk about is work – life balance. We live in a world where we forgo our vacations, forgo raises, and work multiple jobs just to make a living or keep a job. What are we trying to sustain? Well, often we’re trying to sustain a way of life that is not sustainable: a large house, several cars, a social life that means going out all the time, expensive gadgets, brand-new clothes, and so on and so forth. Indeed, we are even told that we need these things in order to be happy. But is this t?

I have had both in life, the expensive dwelling, cable, Internet, expensive gadgets, brand-new clothes, and an active nightlife. I have also had the opposite, a small dwelling, entertainment out in nature that cost little to engage in, card games with friends, and reading a great book in the corner of my trailer. Although the trailer at the time gave me nothing but great pain, as it was a piece of crap, the lifestyle brought me great joy.

Ask yourself these important questions:

  • One, are you living a sustainable lifestyle?
  • Two, are you living the lifestyle you wish to live?
  • Three, do you find that you’re working every day, all the time, just to sustain what you have? Or rather, four, does it take little to sustain what you have and need to live on, and in the end, affords you the good life: Time to enjoy life and those around you, and pursue other interests outside of work?

Take a moment and really determine what it is you want out of life, and then determine what you need to do to get that dream. If you want the large house, multiple cars, and the occasional vacation to France, you may have to work a job that will afford you these pleasures, which means giving up everyday freedom. If on the other hand, you are satisfied with small spaces, and more experiences over things, it may be time to consider sizing down and moving forward.

Right now I am taking a great class on how to achieve Mortgage Freedom from folks who have been there and changed that! Create Pathway to Mortgage Freedom. You might wish to find similar mentors for the life vision you are seeking.

A long article this week, but I hope you find some of the advice offered helpful!

Mahalo,

Rebecca

What?! I’m Out of Hair Gel???

So I have an audition today, and I will have to take a long, hot trip on the bus to get there.  It’s going to get up to 90+ degrees today on Oahu, and that means my hair is going to be a mess, unless I put it up … but that would not bode well for this audition.  The character I am auditioning for would have beautiful, well groomed curled hair. The play takes place in 1971, in North Carolina, and she is the wife of a colonel.

To deal with the potential hair disaster, I looked around for hair gel, to help set the hair when I curl it – no luck.  I am totally out!  Even the little bottle that my husband sometimes keeps for his out of town meetings is gone.  So, what’s a girl to do?  I’ll tell you what, make some!

Luckily I had the ingredients on hand.

Hair Gel Organic Rosemary Essential OilHair Gel:

  • 1/4 cup of warm water.  Purified water is best.
  • 1 – 2 tablespoon of vegetable glycerin (depending on the hold you are looking for).
  • Essential oils. I chose Rosemary, because it smells good and offers that “back home” feeling – something I want to encourage in my performance today.

Mix the glycerin with the water and add 1-2 drops of the essential oil.  With the oils, remember that you can use different oils depending upon your hair type.

If you have dry hair, you might want to try: Lavender, rosemary or sandalwood.

For oily hair: lemon, lime, cedar wood, thyme or clary sage might be good options.

Use tea tree oil if you have dandruff.

The gel should be refrigerated after its made, and it will last one or two weeks. Now I made half a batch because I don’t know if I’m going to land the role, and I don’t use gel on a regular basis. Remember to make only what you need, that way there will be less waste  down the road.

Mahalo,

R~

+I have not been paid to feature any of the above pictured products. However, I do use these products and I have been happy with them.

Circle of Life – Telling a Story

Today I this came across my Facebook page, and I found it touching.  So much so that I wanted to share it.  Cailleach, as the image of the old crone is more than a crone but she walks the circle of life each year, maiden to mother to crone.  Which is why this is super appropriate for us here at Cailleach.  This is Live Painting Show: A Woman’s Life. Originally published on Aug, 12, 2014. Drawing and painting by Stonehouse (석가), Video Editing by Yirigun (이리건), B.G.M by Silent partner – ‘Big screen.’ I hope you enjoy this as much as I did.

About Ginger

NOTE: The following information is from my Materia Medica entry on Ginger, and is meant to be informative only, not to be taken as medical advice.  I am not a medical doctor; readers should verify all information, and consult with their doctor before using this or any other herb.
Ginger

History:

  • Grieve tells us that the plant was brought to the Americas by Francisco de Mendosa who transplanted it from the East Indies into Spain. Spanish-Americans cultivated it greatly, and records show that by “1547 they exported 22,053 cwt. into Europe” (Grieve).
Latin Name: Zingiber officinale (ROSC.)
  • Genus: Zingiber
  • Species: Officinale
  • Family: Zingiberaceae
Common Names:
  • African Ginger, Amomum Zingiber, Ardraka, Black Ginger, Cochin Ginger, Gan Jiang, Gingembre, Gingembre Africain, Gingembre Cochin, Gingembre Indien, Gingembre Jamaïquain, Gingembre Noir, Ginger Essential Oil, Ginger Root, Huile Essentielle de Gingembre, Imber, Indian Ginger, Jamaica Ginger, Jengibre, Jiang, Kankyo, Kanshokyo, Nagara, Race Ginger, Racine de Gingembre, Rhizoma Zingiberi, Rhizoma Zingiberis, Rhizoma Zingiberis Recens, Shen Jiang, Sheng Jiang, Shoga, Shokyo, Shunthi, Srungavera, Sunth, Sunthi, Vishvabheshaja, Zingiber Officinale, Zingiberis Rhizoma, Zingiberis Siccatum Rhizoma, Zinzeberis, Zinziber Officinale, Zinziber Officinalis (MedlinePlus).

Description:

  • Ginger is a herbaceous perennial plant, family of Zingiberaceae, and we eat the rhizome (underground stem) not the root.
  • The rhizome is most often brown with “fingers” coming from it.  It looks like a large twisted root.  One author (Plant Village) described the ginger rhizome as having a “corky outer layer and a pale-yellow center.”  Meat of the rhizome is yellow in color and string in texture.  Spicy in smell and taste.
  • The above ground portion of the ginger looks a bit like a reed with “linear leaves that are arranged alternately on the stem” (Plant Village). Ginger is a tropical plant and Plant Village further describes it as being: “The shoots originate from a multiple bases and wrap around one another. The leaves can reach 7 cm (2.75 in) in length and 1.9 cm (0.7 in) broad. Flowering heads are borne on shorter stems and the plant produces cone shaped, pale yellow flowers. The ginger plant can reach 0.6–1.2 m in height (2–4 FT) and is grown as an annual plant.”
Cultivation – Birgit Bradtke from Permaculture.com
  • You can grow ginger from a store bought rhizome. Let it start to seed first before planting the rhizome.
  • Ginger likes warm climates and lots of water, but not to soak in the water – good drainage is needed.
  • Ginger normally reshoots early in the spring.  Some folks say to soak rhizomes in water overnight, and others say it is not needed.  It doesn’t hurt, but do not leave it in water to sprout roots, it wants the soil – good soil that can hold enough moisture to keep the rhizome moist but not soaked – free draining and avoid water-logging.
  • Best planting time is the late winter/early spring (late dry season/early wet season – in tropics). Ginger Likes lots of light but not direct sun and protect from wind.
  • Never let soil get to dry, moist but not soaked.
  • Harvest: at least 8-10 months – Anytime after the leaves have died down.
History/Lore/Etymology:
  • According to the Online Etymology Dictionary, Ginger is a word that comes from a mid 14c old English term, gingifer.
    • Medieval latin: gingiber.
    • Latin: Zingiberi.
    • Greek: Zingiberis.
    • Parkrit (middle Indic) Singabera.
    • Sanskrit srngaveram (srngam = horn and vera = body: the shape of the root). The old French term, gingibre (modern = gingembre) means spirit, spunk, temper.  Ginger ale was recorded in 1822, ginger snap (yummm) 1855 (http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=ginger).
  • Color Association – Red:
    • Herbs associated with this color connects us to the earth and our ancestors.  it is considered energizing, and heating.  helps circulation and strengthens blood. Breaks up stagnant conditions (Brighid’s Healing, Kindle Edition 256).
  • Taste identification Acrid or Spicy:
    • Spice warms the blood and brings it to the surface.  Our skin becomes warm while internal organs cool. Stimulates metabolism, libido, circulatory system and breaks up stagnancy.  Brings blood flow to digestive system: Spice acts as a catalyst for the other herbs in the remedy and aids absorption (McGarry, Gina, Kindle Edition, 253).
Chemical Constitutes:
  • Warming and good for chest congestion.
  • Antioxidant, antibacterial, anti-fungal, and antimicrobial protection (Kendrick).
  • Diaphoretics/febrifuge (McGarry, Gina, Brighid’s Healing, Kindle Location 689; Green Magic, Kindle Edition.)
  • Produces perspiration.
Indications and Actions:  
  • Relieve motion and morning sickness – Nausea and vomiting (Skidmore-Roth, 17b; MedlinePlus).
  • Relieve sore throat (Skidmore-Roth, 17b).
  • Treat migraine headaches (Skidmore-Roth, 17b).
  • Antioxidant (Skidmore-Roth, 17b).
  • Nausea and vomiting following surgery (Skidmore-Roth, 17b; MedlinePlus).
  • Dizziness (MedlinePlus).
  • Menstrual Pain (MedlinePlus).
  • Women experiencing late menses (McGarry, Brighid’s Healing, Kindle Location 1692; Green Magic. Kindle Edition).
  • Arthritis (MedlinePlus)
  • Treat burns – fresh juice is used for this and diluted oil is often used to relieve pain when applied to the skin (MedlinePlus).
Dosage:
  • Controlling nausea following surgery.

    Take one gram taken internally, one hour before surgery (MedlinePlus).

    Rubbing oil on wrist was said to help 80% of patients before surgery – larger percentage than those in ingested it (MedlinePlus) – oil must be deluded or it can burn.

    After surgery wait 3-6 hours before administering ginger again (MedlinePlus).

  • For morning sickness:

    250 mg ginger 4 times daily  (MedlinePlus).

  • For postoperative nausea and vomiting:

    1-2 grams powdered ginger root one hour before induction of anesthesia (MedlinePlus).

  • Soaks and compresses.
Precautions:
  • Most Likely safe to take when pregnant but some caution is suggested, especially during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.
  • Ginger can slow blood clotting and increase chances of bruising.
  • Personal note, my surgeon asked me NOT to take ginger – again this is likely due to blood clotting and bruising.
  • Do not take with Nifedipine as it can slow blood clotting and increase chances of bruising.

    Nifedipine is A coronary vasodilator and calcium-channel blocking agent that reduces calcium ions available to heart and smooth muscle, used in the treatment of angina pectoris.

Sources:

Reba~

The Malabar Chestnut

Nuts, start to Finish. Image by Rebecca Lea McCarthy.  CC
Nuts, Start to Finish. Image by Rebecca Lea McCarthy. Attribution-ShareAlike CC BY-SA

Sustainability is a serious theme in my life. When it comes to living the life of a modern druid, it is important, I think, to rediscover sustainability as we have lost that skill.  Maybe not everyone, but most of us walking the modern streets of our cities and towns, and even the country. We purchase food from far out places, eat fruits that are not in season, we are rich with such gifts.  But as lovely as it is to have grapes in the Summer, Winter, Fall and Spring it is not sustainable. Consider the costs of transporting foods across country or nations, storage of the food before it can be sold in stores, and what we need to do to keep the food fresh can compromise the nutrients in the food. Further, by eating foods grown on farms from other states and countries, we are not helping to sustain our local economies. I am not suggesting that we should not support interstate and international trade, but I am suggesting it is helpful for our local economies and our health that we start to find more sustainable ways to feed ourselves.

With this in mind, I have been learning how to look to my own backyard to feed myself, both metaphorically and literally.  Since moving to Hawai’i, I have been exposed to many different foods and I have found that many grow in my literal backyard.  We are renting an apartment on an old hog farm in Waimanalo, Hi.  The owner of the property maintains several fruit trees, an aquapodic system, many flowers, and she keeps bees.  She has been kind enough to let us share in her bounty, if we help keep the land.  So, we are learning a thing or two about living off the land in Hawai’i.

One of my most recent discoveries is the Malabar Chestnut!

By Rebecca Lea McCarthy. Attribution-ShareAlike CC BY-SA
By Rebecca Lea McCarthy. Attribution-ShareAlike CC BY-SA

The Malabar Chestnut (botanical name is Pachira aquatic, the family of Bombaceae) is native to Northern Brazil, and southern Mexico.  But this tree is very comfortable in other tropical areas such as Hawai’i and Southern Florida, two of my favorite places! With a dark green bark and leaves, the tree produces lovely nuts inside a wooden green pod (some pods are brown, as there are several different varieties of this tree) that splits into four parts when ripe.  I thought it was because of the pods that this tree is also called a money tree. But apparently it was for more pragmatic reasons. According to Green Deane in the article “Tropical Chestnuts: Pachira aquatic,” the tree earned this name relatively late in life, around 1986, when

“a Taiwanese truck driver put five small seedlings into one pot and weaved them together as they grew. He inadvertently invented the next hot ornamental plant and business took off in Taiwan, Japan and most of eastern Asia. The braided tree is viewed as associated with profit and is a common plant found in businesses, often with red ribbons or other ornaments attached. By 2005, export of the braided tree was a $7 million business in Taiwan” (Deane, Green).

Talk about a money tree!

But I was interested in the nut 🙂 The chestnuts are edible raw or roasted and they taste a bit like a mild peanut raw, and toasted a bit like a peanut crossed with a filbert (hazelnut), in my humble opinion.  According to “Nutrition and You,” the only place I could find nutritional information for this nut, the article was mostly targeted to chestnuts in general, they are low in calories, but are also rich in minerals, and vitamins. You can also make flour out of the nut, but this I did not try.

By Rebecca Lea McCarthy. Attribution-ShareAlike CC BY-SA
By Rebecca Lea McCarthy. Attribution-ShareAlike CC BY-SA

I enjoyed the nut raw, but toasted they are divine. First, you must shell the nut which is not an easy task.  To aid in the process, I soaked the nuts in water over night and let the shell split, making them easer to shell.  I tossed the nuts in some olive oil and a bit of salt, and roasted them on low, 350, until brown and crunchy.

I tell you what, they were so good that I could not keep up with the demand!  They made a lovely snack throughout the day when you start to get hungry pangs, or when you simply walked by them.

R~

Resources consulted for the article:

A Welcome …. An Offer of Hospitality

Champion des dames Vaudoises by Serein. Public Domain.

Welcome to Cailleach’s Chair, the meeting place for the Cult of Cailleach.

Why have I gathered us all here?

This is a complicated question, but let me start by saying this: I do not wish to grow old … not in our Western culture as it is today. To grow old today is to be forgotten, discarded, and marginalized. How sad it is to be old today; a lifetime of knowledge forgotten. A lifetime of know-how ignored. This is true for all of us, men and women, but it is especially true for women.

So, I stand here today and I declare proudly, I will not go “gently into that good night,” or “grow old gracefully.”  When I was younger, I used to announce such silliness out of my inexperience of life and lack of practical wisdom:

“I will grow old gracefully!” I proudly declared, drinking as I did from the cool-aid.  “I’m not going to be one of those old ladies who try to be twenty-one their entire life,” said I with my perky boobs standing tall and my taunt skin glistering with a new summer tan. “I will accept what was given to me, wrinkles and all.”

I was an idiot, and cool-aid is not nearly as tasty as mead.

Truthfully, parts of the above declaration is true: I do not want to be 21 again, goddess help me …. No. I do want to accept my place in the great cycle of life.  But in truth, our society has a different spin on the phrases: “go gently into that good night,” and “grow old gracefully,” and I find the spin offensive. These phrases, in practice, no longer mean accepting and honoring the great cycle of life; rather, in practice older people, middle age onward, are asked to disappear quietly, allowing the younger generation to stand tall, while the older generation is shuffled away from their jobs (old faces don’t sell), and hidden away into retirement communities or, for those of us with little money, state-run institutions. I’ve seen it, more often than not; and unlike dear Hamlet, I have no interest in shuffling off “this mortal coil.”   Besides, this model is not sustainable, nor is it helpful to our world, culture, species, or younger generations.

It is time to take back and to re-embrace a better way of doing things. What that better way is, I am not sure, which is one of the functions of this blog: to discover a more sustainable model. As I grow older, I have no desire to be the discarded “hag.”  Nope.  It is time to reclaim the magical, mystical, powerful crone/hag: the Cailleach.

Cailleach Bheare is the celtic image of the old mother, the hag, the magical crone, who is revered as a mythical being in Ireland (Caolainn or the Hag of Beare), Northern Ireland (Cailleach Bherri), Britain (Black Annis), Scotland (Cailleach Mor), and the Isle of Man (Cailleach my Groamagh).  In essence, she is known as a mountain mother, but is also given the title of the queen of the Limerick fairies, and is understood as the mother to the gods (she has the name Boi when she was the wife of Lugh – Irish god of Light).  And, as you might guess, she controls the weather in the winter months as she too is in her declining years.  Interesting enough, she is not always old, but passes yearly through the cycle of age, from youth to old age, representing both renewal and death, the journey from ignorance and deep wisdom.  She returns yearly on Samhain, October 31st to you and me, and will leave with the warming weather, placing her staff under a holly bush before turning to stone herself, hibernating and regenerating for the next round of life … the next year.

“Barley Saturday, Waiting for the Parade” by Ceridwen, From geograph.org.uk: CC BY-SA 2.0.

I will write more on this image as the blog progresses, but it is enough to point out her usefulness as an alternative image to age, especially female aging, compared to the one we have now: the quiet old woman complacently taking her place in a rocking chair, lap ready for brief visits from her grandchildren*. Not that there is anything wrong with having a grandchild on your lap, but surely the middle-aged and older generation has more to offer the world than a lap to rest in. Cailleach moved mountains because she had the knowledge, the wisdom to figure out how to do such a feat.  Let’s tap that wisdom … please!

This blog is about sustainability and wisdom. It’s about what we have to offer in the way of wisdom regarding these topics from an older persons point of view, middle-aged to the crone. And the focus is on women writers, but this does not mean that posts from guest male writers will not appear on these pages.  Although I would like to create a space for women to be able to share their understanding regarding sustainability, sustainability itself is not a one sided affair.  Feminism, in all its facets, must inherently include the masculine element, or the movement  is doomed before it begins.  But the voices of older women are easily lost in our world, and so I would like to make this space the space of Cailleach – in somewhat the tradition of the Cult of Cailleach, which has a long tradition in different parts of the Celtic world.  The cult consisted of older women who gathered together to under the cloak of nature, magic, and wisdom.

So, I welcome you to the 21st century Cult of Cailleach.  Take a seat, feel free to drape my yellow robe about you if you are cold, and stay a while for the magic about to unfold.

______

*I say this, but also offer a nod of homage to the great Golden Girls, who were not complacent!

Research based on the following:

  • Coulter, Charles Russell, and Patricia Turner. 2000. Encyclopedia of Ancient Deities. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland. Pp. 112-114.
  • Matthews, Caitlin, John Matthews, and Caitlin Matthews. 2003. Walkers between the worlds: the Western mysteries from Shaman to Magus. Rochester, Vt: Inner Traditions International.
  • O’Brien, Lora. 2005. Irish Witchcraft from an Irish Witch. Franklin Lakes, NJ: New Page Books.

Yes! Life is a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death!