Hallowe'en and Samhain are over. It's time for the arrival of the Blue Hag. Usually, we have to wait another month or so to really feel Her presence in the Grove; but this year, She arrived almost immediately after the candle burned down in the Jack o' Lantern.
The Blue Hag is, not surprisingly, a Winter fairy, since Her face is blue and wrinkled tightly from the cold. She appears as an old woman or crone, in a veiled brown cloak, leaning on Her staff of holly, topped with a skull. She rules; during the dark time of the year after the Summer has ended (Samhain/Hallowe'en) and until the Summer begins once again (Beltane/May Day). She is usually accompanied by a crow; who is a link to the underworld, a messenger of death, an eater of carrion and a sign of changes to come. The Blue Hag's name in Gaelic (Scottish); is Cailleach Bheur, meaning the "blue veiled one". The Blue Hag pounds down the old vegetation into the earth with Her staff, and when that job is done, She brings in the cold, frost and snow.
When May and Summer approaches, She thrusts Her staff under the holly tree (which is why no grass can grow under it) and shrinks down into a cold gray stone; to once again await the season of cold that She presides over. In this way, She reminds me of the White Witch of Narnia, who Herself presided over that land (but only as long as Winter could remain) and turned Herself and Her Imp into stone when the thaw heralding Spring approached.
I quite feel Her in the Grove with our recent snowfall. The ground under our holly tree refuses to allow anything to grow other than ivy and periwinkle. We have instead created wee paths of bricks from a 100+ year old chimney that had been disassembled from the twin house next door to us. We have also added garden statues and little deities to the mix. Hopefully, the Blue Hag approves ... as it looks to be a long Winter!
Bibliography: Guide to the Fairy Ring by Anna Franklin, Llewellyn Publications, Woodbury, MN USA 2002, ; Mysterious Britain and Ireland: Mysteries, Legends & The Paranormal, The Caillech Bheur by Ian; mysteriousbritain.co.uk/folklore/the-caillech-bheur/, 2008, 2019; The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis, Penquin Books, Middlesex, England, 1959 (original copyright 1950).
Meadow Sweet Grove © V. Buchanan, 2022
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