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Katy Swift shares a story of Scotland’s creation and the cycle of the seasons, featuring the Cailleach, the goddess of winter, and Bride, the goddess of spring. The story is inspired by Donald Alexander Mackenzie’s Scottish Wonder Tales from Myth and Legend. Katy’s version offers us a vision of the Cailleach as creatrix, and explores why this mother god transformed into fearsome figure remembered in Scotland today.
Katy Swift is a Socially Engaged Artist and Storyteller from Northumberland, now based in the Scottish Borders. Her work aims to create social and political change with individuals, groups or communities through weaving together Scottish Gaelic folklore, mythology, folk herbalism and creative practices. She recently graduated with an MA in Socially Engaged Art with the University of the Highlands and Islands, where she focused on how ritual and creative practices can help us to process our collective grief for the Earth.
Follow Katy on Instagram @katy.swift.storytelling
- KnotWork Storytelling tends to emphasize the Irish storytelling tradition. Listeners will hear familiar names in this tale - Cailleach, Angus, and Bride who shares so much in common with Brigid - but Katy’s tale brings us deep into the unique nature of the Scottish mythological tradition
- In our most recent episode about Cessair ended just as the great flood waters rose, which is just where this story began, as the Cailleach, a giant, wades through the waters and creates the land.
- This story is tied to the Celtic Wheel of the Year, particularly the Scottish Là na Caillich or Auld Wives Day or Ladies’ Day, the day that the cailleach falls asleep for spring and summer, which falls on March 25.
- Once these stories were reminders to trust the cycles of the seasons. Now, these stories are medicine as we grieve as a species, unsure of where we belong in the natural order of things.
- Katy’s own story of eventually falling in love with the stories of the Scottish Borderlands after years of seeking endless summer and studying the stories of Southeast Asia.
- The importance of liminal spaces in Scottish folklore, including past podcast episode, The Man Without a Story, told by Michael Newton
- Keith Basso’s book Wisdom Sits in Places: Landscape and Language Among the Western Apache, describes how holding a place name in your mouth is to speak the words of the ancestors
- The significance of place names in Scotland and the resurgence of the Scots Gaelic language
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