Cailleach, groundhogs, and a call for clouds

February 2nd, 2012 Comments Off on Cailleach, groundhogs, and a call for clouds

Wiarton Willie statue in Wiarton, Ontario

Wiarton Willie

It’s Groundhog Day, the day when North Americans look to large rodents for weather prognostication.

If while the humans are watching, the groundhog sees his shadow, six more weeks of winter are to be expected. If there’s no shadow however, we can hope for an early spring.

Today’s groundhogs seem to have taken on a role once played by the divine Gaelic hag Cailleach, who was also celebrated on the 1st or 2nd of February, otherwise known as Imbolc.

According to legend, this is the time when Cailleach is scheduled to gather firewood for the rest of the winter.

If it’s going to be a long one (and that’s up to her), she makes the day bright and clear enough so that she has no problem gathering plenty of wood.

If, on the other hand, spring is around the corner, she doesn’t bother going outside. She lets the weather be bad and enjoys the day in bed.

Needless to say, Cailleach watchers paid close attention to the weather on Imbolc, much as our groundhog diviners do today.

And I’ll be watching too. As much as I like the sun out bright, if there’s anything to these Cailleach and groundhog traditions, I’m hoping for some clouds.

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