Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Some more information about Beira, her origins and legends
In Scotland she is also known as Beira, Queen of Winter and she is said to have made the numerous mountains and large hills, which are said to have been formed when she was striding across the land and accidentally dropped rocks from her apron. In other cases she is said to have built the mountains intentionally, to serve as her stepping stones. She carries a hammer for shaping the hills and valleys, and is said to be the mother of all the goddesses and gods.
Also well known as the crone (or winter hag) The Cailleach. Known for herding deer and heralding the winter months- Often referred to as a seasonal deity or spirit, ruling the winter months between Samhain (1 November or first day of winter) and Beltane (1 May or first day of summer). Some legends describe Beira as turning to stone on Beltane and reverting to humanoid form on Samhain in time to rule over the winter months. 
Là Fhèill Brìghde(1st Feb) is also the day the Cailleach/Beira gathers her firewood for the rest of the winter. Legend has it that if she intends to make the winter last a good while longer, she will make sure the weather on 1 February is bright and sunny, so she can gather plenty of firewood to keep herself warm in the coming months.  It is seen as a good omen if the weather is bad on February 1st so that Beira will gather less firewood and as a result the winter should be shorter.
There are various Irish and Manx stories around this deity too. In the Isle of Mann where she is known as Caillagh ny Groamagh, the Cailleach is said to have been seen on St. Bride’s day in the form of a gigantic bird, carrying sticks in her beak.
On the West Coast of Scotland is it said that she washes her plaid in the Whirlpool of Coire Bhreacain. This process is said to take three days until the plaid turns white and snow covers the land.
Going back to her effigy as a Corn Dolly made by the farm folks I found this interesting superstition and decided that I had to include a Corn Dolly in my artwork-
In Scotland and Ireland, the first farmer to finish the grain harvest made a corn dolly, representing the Cailleach (also called “the Carlin or Carline), from the last sheaf of the crop. The figure would then be tossed into the field of a neighbor who had not yet finished bringing in their grain. The last farmer to finish had the responsibility to take in and care for the corn dolly for the next year, with the implication they’d have to feed and house the hag all winter. This created competition avoid having to take in the hag over winter. The Corn Dollies also served as protection from a harsh winter.
During her 7 ages of youth Beira populated Scotland with the tribes and clans giving rise to her power as the goddess to rule over all other deities.

Here are a few detailed close ups of my first layers of line work in ink. I plan to start the colour this evening so say tuned for more soon.