Cailleach—Means “old woman,” and also refers to the last sheaf of CORN at the end of HARVEST; like the CORN DOLLY, this sheaf was sometimes hung in the house to provide good luck (although occasionally kisses were stolen beneath the cailleach, making it similar to the use of MISTLETOE at CHRISTMAS). In Scottish and Irish folklore, the cailleach was often an ancient woman or hag gifted with magic (similar to the WITCH or the BANSHEE), and whose assistance was sometimes sought in occult situations; the Cailleach was also sometimes referred to as a seasonal deity who provided over the winter months between SAMHAIN and BELTANE (while BRIGHDE ruled the summer half of the year). In some areas, the word is believed to have referred to a fairy woman dressed in red or green.
The Halloween Encyclopedia Second Edition written by Lisa Morton © 2011 Lisa Morton. All rights reserved