I was thinking earlier today about the story of the Cailleach (KAL-ee-ack) and Imbolg. It is a similar tale to that of Groundhog Day in which the weather predicts the coming seasonal shift. For those of us here in the states, Groundhog Day is a popular observance. Although many states have adopted their own Groundhog, the “Official” groundhog of Groundhog Day is Punxsutawney Phil.
According to Wikipedia, “it derives from the Pennsylvania Dutch superstition that if a groundhog emerging from its burrow on this day sees its shadow due to clear weather, it will retreat to its den and winter will persist for six more weeks; but if it does not see its shadow because of cloudiness, spring will arrive early.”
In Irish folktales, there is the story of the Cailleach (KAL-ee-ack). It is said that She is a Goddess of Winter, but where She comes to my mind is in the prediction of the duration of Winter and the coming of Spring.
Known as the Veiled One and the Queen of Winter, The Cailleach controlled the weather and the winds. Popular among poets, the divine hag remains prominent across Ireland, Scotland, and the Isle of Man. Source
It is said that on Imbolg, the Cailleach runs out of firewood to keep Her hearth warm and dry. If the weather on Imbolg (or February 1st) is warm or has clear skies we know that She will be able to gather more firewood for Her home, thus prolonging the cold Winter season. If the skies are cloudy, it is raining, or the weather is otherwise unfavorable, the Cailleach will not be able to gather more firewood and will have to give way to the coming of Spring.
So, what is the weather like where you live?
Here in Central Florida, we had a beautiful rainstorm last night – the first one of the season. This is a good omen to me and tells me that Spring is on its way! It has also been very, very windy today with a lot of clouds covering the sky. This is just another sign for me that Imbolg is here, Spring has sprung, and Lady Brigid roams the earth!
Is it raining where you are? Is it cold? Or is the weather perfect?
If you are looking for more information on the Cailleach, you might find these links helpful!