The Cailleach and Deer

 

The Cailleach’s attendant animals are herds of deer and shaggy goats. Mr. McKay thinks that this militates against the idea that she was a goddess of winter, and he would place her as a deer-divinity, who belonged to a people in the hunting stage of existence, the cult of the deer having been superseded by the cult of gigantic deer-goddesses, who were originally their priestesses. This theory hardly seems to me to account for the various legends about her, but it may be, quite conceivably, one of her many aspects ; for it would seem that, of the many ” Auld Wives ” or ” Hags ” created by the Gaelic imagination, the Cailleach Bheara or Bheur has collected the attributes of several into her story.

Eleanor Hull on “Legends and Traditions of the Cailleach Bheara or Old Woman (Hag) of Beare” in Folklore, Vol. 38, No. 3(Sept. 30, 1927).

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