35 of 35 people found the following review helpful
on 10 May 2009
Despite (or perhaps because of) my long-standing interest in the myth and folklore of Britain, especially its integral role in understanding ancient metaphysical and spiritual ides, I do not read many books on the subject these days. I try, but I find most of them to be poorly researched and written to support some pre-conceived idea of the author. What a relief, then, to read a book that starts with the advantage of good research and allowing the reader to make up their own mind about any deeper meanings that may be inherent in the tales.
Collecting and examining tales of the Cailleach, this book sets out the tales by region and by theme, examines their origins, and discusses the possibility of some unifying force behind the tales that helped them to spread and stay alive in the popular imagination. It does no more, because that is enough. The authors make no claims; they discuss possibilities and present the tales as evidence. For that, they are to be thanked. Not just for collecting the tales into a handy reference book, but also for crediting their readers with the intelligence to investigate further and draw their own conclusions.
As a real bonus, the book is well written. The style is easy and intelligent. It wears its scholarship lightly, but is robust. There are plenty of references and a great bibliography. All this makes the book something of a rarity in times when many scholarly works are badly written and dreadfully biased (and professional academics are some of the worst culprits); and when many books on myth, folklore and spiritual matters seem to rely so heavily on something the author might once have seen on television or has written in their first flush of enthusiasm for a new found path without actually having any deeper understanding of the subject on which they expound.
This book sets a standard. We can but hope that it, and books like it, will lead to a revival of quality worked based in good research and which explore areas beyond that of the huge pile of `how to' books with which we have been swamped in the past decade.
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on 20 August 2011
The Cailleach: who, or what, is this mythical figure? Even in the the foggy mists of most ancient history she was already old, old as the hills, a wise crone with magical powers and preternatural wisdom. Was she a faerie being? Was she a goddess? Is the myth of her that reaches down through the annals of time into this epoch merely the recollection of an ancient goddess priesthood?
Authors Sorita d'Este and David Rankine present in this small but superbly researched tome a wealth of lore concerning the Cailleach. Tracing her myths back beyond the time of the Romans, they note how the land of Portugal acquired its name through the Cailleach myth, and they relate folktales of her from Iberia to Scotland. The Cailleach is a crone, perhaps the crone manifestation of the triple goddess. She is as old as the hills and a bit of a trickster, though she works her tricks for good and for the defense of those decent folk she favors. She is fair and always takes a payment for her deeds, in the manner of the faerie folk. She operates through nature. Her wealth is in the form of wool and grain, and her treasured red deer. She is undoubtedly a primal being who exists with the green world in a very profound and integrated sense. As I read this tome, I could not help but think of the Cailleach as the natural counterpart to the Green Man.
Visions of the Cailleach does not state what the authors believe the Cailleach to be. Rather, it expertly presents surviving myth and notes the interpretations those myths give rise to. But one thing is certain, the myths point to an ancient being that has probably been known since the Bronze Age, and I would not doubt her saga traces much further back.
The Cailleach, the Green Woman, ancient being who has outlasted the ages. Though barely remembered, she is not forgotten, and her shadow carries on a kind of green, natural truth--there is magic yet in the world, and spirits that are part of a timeless reality, awaiting discovery. Visions of the Cailleach is a fascinating read offering a wealth of insight and knowledge.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 9 December 2014
I've read this book twice now and I am going to have to go back and read it again. It is the kind of book that I really wish I had bought as a physical copy because there is a wealth of material that would be easier to find flicking through pages than on the Kindle.
This book will appeal to you if you are interested in Celtic myths and legends, the deep history of language and mythology, and what can be teased out of folk-tales, place-names and old legends. Good book. Recommended.
on 11 December 2014
This is a brilliant and valuable resource book for all who seek the elusive crone of winter. If you have any questions or any doubts about the authenticity or origins of the Cailleach - here is proof and answers combined. An excellent guide for anyone studying folklore, and the authors plainly show how the Cailleach is deeply ingrained in our cultural myths,
Written with great clarity, the book is a fantastic reference book, but can also be read cover to cover.