Cailleach Bheur was a blue hag of the Scottish Highlands. She personified the winter, ruling over the weather from Samhain (All Hallow’s Eve or Halloween) to Beltane (May Day). She would tap the ground with her magical wooden staff, freezing the ground as she went. She loved snow, and in Scotland snow was sometimes referred to as Cailleach’s Plaid. By the beginning of February, though, her stores of firewood would run low, and she would need to collect fallen tree branches. If it were a sunny day, she would head out to gather more wood and thus be prepared for more wintry weather. If it were a cloudy, grey day, however, she would stay inside and work her magic to end the winter weather. When the warm weather did arrive, she would turn to stone and sleep until the next winter.
This connection to stone is a unique one. The ancients considered Stone–a thing of the earth–to be the home of spirit. Because of its durability and longevity, Stone was thought to hold psychic energy better than, say, a tree which has a shorter life cycle.
Imbolc ceremonies traditionally included fires (to honor Brighid, Celtic goddess of fire); foods such as nuts, dried meats, and root vegetables; and rituals that honor the coming change of the goddess from Crone back to Maiden.
How will you release the old and welcome the new this year?
Information for this post taken from “Llewellyn’s 2013 Sabbats Almanac” and http://www.mysteriousbritain.co.uk/scotland/folklore/the-caillech-bheur.html.