Podcast for The Cailleach on ‘I Think Speech‘
Greetings friends – Here in the Heartland we are finally experiencing a worthy accumulation of glorious snow – a white hushing blanket fluffed & growing with each unique crystal. A magical transformation of elemental forces that brings a rosy glow to the face & delights the human heart. So that got me thinking about The Cailleach (KAL-y-ach) who is the Crone Goddess of Winter & transformation, said to control the weather & the winds. She strikes the ground with her staff, a Druidic white wand of power, made of birch, willow, bramble, or broom, causing the earth to be covered with a blanket of frost. She also determines the length & harshness of the season, which begins on October 31st, the Samhain festival, peaking just before the Cross-quarter of Imbolc, but often extending up till the Spring Equinox.
As a veiled Crone, with one eye & pale blue/grey skin, The Cailleach or twilight hag, has been feared & revered across Celtic cultures for over 3000 years. Depicted as a giant with a bow-legged stride, She leaps across mountains & plains with a power to shape & transform the landscape, rocks falling from Her gathered apron.
Her name means “Veiled One” & She is very old. No one knows for certain where She came from. When the Celts arrived in Ireland The Cailleach was already there.
Legend has it that ‘Fintan the Wise one of a 100 lives’ accompanied Noah’s granddaughter, Cessair, to Ireland before the great Biblical flood. He thought himself the first to set foot on the island but found Cailleach living there, & could see she was far more ancient than himself. He is said to have asked of her, “Are you the one, the grandmother who ate the apple in the beginning?” but received no answer.
There is a tale of a wandering friar & his scribe, who came to the old Crone’s stone domicile. He inquired as to her great age, which he had heard stories of. She replied that she didn’t know, but that every year she killed an ox & made soup from the bones—& perhaps they could gauge her age by the number of ox bones tossed up in the attic. The young scribe climbed the ladder & threw the bones down one by one for the friar to count. The friar duly made a mark on his paper for each bone, & the great pile of bones grew until he had run out of paper. He called up to the young scribe, who replied that he had not even cleared one corner of the pile of bones. Such was the great age of the Cailleach.
She has been called ‘Old Wife’, ‘Old Woman’ & the ‘Blue Hag of Winter’. In Celtic myth the Hag represents the spirit of the land, holding sovereign power over the earth. For a Celtic king to retain power, he was required to “marry” the Goddess of the earth. As ‘divine hag,’ she represents the dark side of the Mother who brings death & rebirth.
Some scholars believe “Cailleach” was more like a title of initiation, for the name is associated with various figures thru out history & mythology – passed down thru oral tradition.
In Irish mythology she is said to have had seven maidenhoods, before bearing children by many husbands, before becoming eternally aged, outliving all her husbands & children. She is the maternal ancestor of every Irish tribe.
The Cailleach is said to be responsible for raising mountains & creating the ancient burial cairns & barrow mounds. She is a Goddess of the Underworld, associated with the ancestors & the realms of death & rebirth. The Cailleach is connected to the bean sidhe (Banshee), the wild women of the Faeries, She oversees the faerie mounds & entrances to the realm of the Fey. You will also find Her near sacred standing stones, the “bones of the earth”. Her companion the Owl is associated with death, the underworld, magic, & the ability to see spirits. She is said to be a shapeshifter, & can transform into a giant bird – “cailleach-oidhche”, “the night hag”, old Gaelic for “owl”.
On Imbolc, legend has it that the Cailleach runs out of her store of winter firewood & goes to gather more. If the day is fine & dry, it means that she will be able to gather more firewood & prolong the harsh winter months, but if it rains, she will have no fuel & so will have to give way to Spring. This tradition traveled across the Atlantic & fed into what is known as Groundhog Day.
And so it is that on Imbolc the Cailleach is said to cast her staff under a holly bush; her way of handing it over to Brigid. She then, swirls around 3x’s, & turns into a grey boulder, until the Wheel again turns to Samhain. The stone she transforms into is said to remain moist despite the warmth of the summer months because of the life force it contains. Countless standing stones are said to be sacred to her.
The Cailleach is associated with more locations across the Gaelic-speaking world than any other deity. Her ability to form the landscape means that many prominent mountain landmarks are attributed to her. According to legend, she either dropped or threw stones from her apron as she passed thru the land & these grew into rock formations or mountains.
In daily life The Cailleach inspires the local healer, called bean feasa ‘wise woman, fortune-teller, sorceress, charm-worker – Witch.’
To reclaim the Crone, is to become synonymous with wisdom & sovereign female agency, operating outside the oppressive hand of patriarchy.
Many Gaelic oral narratives recount cures performed by the local bean feasa thru her gifts of prophecy & second-sight. Part herbalist, part oracle, the ‘wise woman’ is the representative of the Goddess who visits the spiritual world to gain insight. As healer she diagnoses & heals emotional traumas, both individual & communal. Like shamanic figures the world over, she treats illness by balancing the relationship between the human being & the spirits of the otherworlds. She restores well-being by bringing into harmony matter & Spirit.
As a Goddess of transformation & death, She oversees the culling of the old, & lets die all that is no longer needed. And also with the passing of the Winter months, the Cailleach finds & guards the seeds for the coming re-birth of Spring. She stands at the cusp of life & death, intimately connected to the wise women who preside as midwives over birthing, & who prepare the dead for burial.
As the “Veiled One” the Cailleach guides us through our inner realities & dreams. She teaches us to let go of (allow to die) all that no longer serves our higher purpose, & guides us thru the many deaths & rebirths of our life phases. She is the final face of the Triple Goddess who rules the wheel of reincarnation.
May we embrace the “Veiled One” knowing the transformative power of darkness, will lead us into the growing light of re-birth.
24 January 2022 – “Speaking with the Stars”: Mercury (occult Venus) reached inferior conjunction yesterday at 6 am CST. It’s now hidden from our view by the Sun’s bright glare but will just begin to peek out of the dawn as a morning star by the end of the month.
The Pleaides is already high an hour after sunset. Look south to find this young cluster of stars northwest of Aldebaran in Taurus the Bull. Many people think the Pleiades looks like a spoon or ladle, and some even confuse it with the Little Dipper (which is much larger, fainter, and in the north). At least six bright stars are visible to the naked eye.
Rudolf Steiner’s Lectures on this day
ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY
AD 41 – Roman Emperor Caligula, known for his eccentricity and sadistic despotism, is assassinated by his disgruntled Praetorian Guards. The Guard then proclaims Caligula’s uncle Claudius as Emperor.
AD 76 – Birthday of Hadrian, Roman emperor. He is known for building Hadrian’s Wall, which marked the northern limit of Britannia, yet he visited almost every province of the Empire. Hadrian energetically pursued his own Imperial ideals & personal interests. He encouraged military preparedness & discipline, & fostered, designed or personally subsidized various civil & religious institutions & building projects. In Rome itself, he rebuilt or completed the Pantheon, & constructed the vast Temple of Venus & Roma. In Egypt, he rebuilt the Serapeum of Alexandria. An ardent admirer of Greece, he sought to make Athens the cultural capital of the Empire & ordered the construction of many opulent temples there. His intense relationship with the Greek youth Antinous, who he adopted & named his successor, on the condition that he adopt Marcus Aurelius & Lucius Verus as his own heirs, led to Hadrian’s establishment of an enduring and widespread popular cult. Hadrian died & Antoninus had him deified, despite opposition from the Senate. Hadrian has been described as enigmatic & contradictory, with a capacity for both great personal generosity & extreme cruelty, driven by insatiable curiosity, self-conceit, & above all, ambition.
Hadrian had an abiding & enthusiastic interest in art, architecture & public works. Rome’s Pantheon (temple “to all the gods”), originally built by Agrippa & destroyed by fire in 80, was restored under Hadrian in the domed form it retains to this day. Hadrian’s Villa at Tibur (Tivoli) provides the greatest Roman equivalent of an Alexandrian garden.
Hadrian was familiar with the Stoic philosophers Epictetus, & Favorinus, & with their works. Shortly before the death of Plotina, Hadrian had granted her wish that the leadership of the Epicurean School in Athens be open to a non-Roman candidate.
Hadrian had a great interest in astrology & divination & had been told of his future accession to the Empire by a grand-uncle who was himself a skilled astrologer.
Hadrian wrote poetry in both Latin & Greek; one of the few surviving examples is a Latin poem he reportedly composed on his deathbed:
Animula, vagula, blandula
Hospes comesque corporis
Quae nunc abibis in loca
Pallidula, rigida, nudula,
Nec, ut soles, dabis iocos…
~P. Aelius Hadrianus Imp.
Roving amiable little soul,
Body’s companion and guest,
Now descending for parts
Colourless, unbending, and bare
Your usual distractions no more shall be there…
There may be a connection between the individuality known as Hadrian & Ludwig Polzer-Hoditz, one of Rudolf Steiner’s most valued & independent-minded colleagues, who was born in Prague – in the midst of the Austro-Hungarian Empire – to an aristocratic family with royal connections. Leaving behind the traditions of his background, he was to become a key actor in Rudolf Steiner’s regenerative ‘threefold’ social impulses, working tirelessly for a genuinely unified & free Europe. Polzer-Hoditz also fought to protect Rudolf Steiner’s esoteric legacy & the integrity of the Anthroposophical Society that had been founded to further his work. Following Steiner’s untimely death, Polzer-Hoditz fostered a broad range of friendships & alliances with key figures such as D.N. Dunlop, Walter Johannes Stein & Ita Wegman. In the final decade of his life he concentrated his energies on world issues, seeking to influence events in Europe in particular, lecturing widely & writing a number of books & memoranda. Polzer-Hoditz sought to build a true understanding between Central & Eastern Europe & to cultivate a spiritual connection with the West.
1965 – Death-day of Winston Churchill, English colonel & politician, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Nobel Prize laureate.
1978 – Soviet satellite Kosmos 954, with a nuclear reactor on board, burns up in Earth’s atmosphere, scattering radioactive debris over Canada’s Northwest Territories. Only 1% is recovered.
1993 – Death-Day of Thurgood Marshall, American lawyer & jurist, 32nd United States Solicitor General.
1991 – Deathday of René Maikowski, member of the Esoteric Youth Circle. Born in Berlin of a Russian-Polish father & a Franco-Swiss mother, he spoke all these languages fluently. Fighting in WW1 awakened in him a longing for a meaningful & humane way of life, which sparked an interest in social issues, politics, history & economics. He was drawn to Rudolf Steiner because of his views on the 3 fold social organism.
Steiner appointed him secretary of the ‘Association for Anthroposophical University Work’, in 1920, a confederation advocating anthroposophy in the universities. With Steiner he organized Higher education courses. He worked with Ernst Lehrs, Albrecht Strohschein & Fritz Kubler to help with the East-West Conference in Vienna in 1922. These 4 young men went to Dornach with the purpose of asking Rudolf Steiner to help them form the ‘Pedagogical Youth Course’, which Steiner held in Stuttgart in Oct. 1923.
Maikowski, traveled with Steiner all that year, & helped him form the ‘Free Anthroposophical Society’ mainly for the youth. He was part of the executive committee with Maria Roschl, Wilhelm Rath, & Hans Buchenbacher.
In GA 259 Rudolf Steiner calls him “Theoretician of Youth’ as he was doing a lot of the programming. Steiner loved Maikowski because he was always full of questions; & he revealed to him that as an initiate Steiner could only do something if it was asked of him. Once when they were entering a city where Steiner had never been, he called for quiet saying: “I want to see if anyone is meditating, because if there is even one person who meditates, it changes the aura of the city”.
Steiner commissioned him to set up various Waldorf Schools. When the National Socialists began to harass the Waldorf schools, Maikowski tried to use the influence of his brother who was an SA officer, but it was no use, the authorities shut down the school anyway. He stepped down as the head of the Confederation. (Many anti-Waldorf sites mention Maikowksi saying he was a Nazi, which he wasn’t)
René Maikowski was much missed by his students, who called him: Die Flamme due to his ardor & enthusiasm in the classroom. After the war he worked to rebuild many of the schools, traveling as far as Russia & Israel. He died at the age of 92.
2003 – The United States Department of Homeland Security officially begins operation.
~like a black jackal
on a freezing dark night
i am stealth…
i make a quiet passage to heaven
& yet i still search
for secrets among the cold colored stones…
|“Out of the substance of soul and spirit, human beings have to fashion the tools with which to plough a way, the soul-way leading to the castle of the Grail, to the mystery of the Grail, to the mystery of bread and blood, to the fulfilment of the words ‘This do in remembrance of me’. This is, truly, in remembrance of the mighty event of Golgotha, if the symbol of the bread — of what, in other words, develops from the earth through the synthesis of cosmic forces — is understood. It is done in full remembrance if we understand once again how to grasp the world through a spiritualized cosmology and astronomy, and if we learn to comprehend the human being in terms of his essence: the element where the spiritual directly enters him — the mystery of the blood. The path that leads to the Holy Grail must be found through inner work in human souls. This is the task of cognition and the social task.”~Rudolf Steiner, |
The Mysteries of the Holy Grail, Chapter 8, “The Lapse into Matter”, and Chapter 9,
“Piercing the Thicket”, excerpts from Steiner’s lectures given at Dornach on 16 & 17 April 1921 …
focus of the February 2 meeting.
Chapters 7, 8 & 9 in the book can be found online at the CRC’s website by clicking this link
A transcript of the 16 April, 1921 lecture can be found on the RS Archive by clicking this link
A transcript of the 17 April, 1921 lecture can be found on the RS Archive by clicking this link
The Central Regional Council of the Anthroposophical Society in America invites you to join our ongoing study conversation. The study has been divided among two volunteers who will summarize their section to rebuild it as a foundation for our conversation. Please familiarize yourself with the lecture if possible so you will feel comfortable sharing your reflections and thoughts with the group.This collection of lectures has been republished by Rudolf Steiner Press under the title: “The Mysteries of the Holy Grail — from Arthur and Parzival to Modern Initiation.” The book was compiled and edited by Matthew Barton, published by Rudolf Steiner Press in 2010.
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|Agenda for this meeting (CST)|
7:15 Welcome and Introductions
7:25 Study led by volunteers
Note: CRC team will ID volunteers
Michael – Chapter 8
Camille – Chapter 9
8:25 ID volunteers for next meeting
8:28 Close with verse
There is a knighthood of the 21st century
whose riders do not ride through the darkness of physical forests as of old,
but through the forest of darkened minds.
They are armed with a spiritual armor and an inner sun makes them radiant.
Out of them shines healing, healing that flows from the knowledge of the human being
as a spiritual being. They must create inner order, inner justice, peace and conviction in the darkness
of our time.