The Cailleach by Loch nam Ban Mora (The Loch of the Big Women)
There is a place far away from here that is very much out of time yet in time. From Loch Lomond I set of north and west via a train ride through some of the most spectacular scenery in the world – the West Highland Way. The route weaves through quite glens offering you views of lochs and impossibly high mountains where you can spot deer and buzzards from your seat on the train. Once arriving in Mallaig an hour ferry ride takes you over to Eilean nam Ban Mora, the Isle of the Big Women.
I have been to this isle a few times and yet even although it is only roughly 5 miles long and 3 wide there are still wondrous places I haven’t visited. On this trip I was definitely called by the Big Women. It is an island endowed with an ancient power, an ancient power rooted in the tradition of the wise women.
Now there are myths about the supernatural size of these original big women, yet big also means respected, well known, revered. Like the wells on this island, that people travelled many miles to visit for each was known for their distinct properties whose to say others didn’t travel in that time out of our time to visit the Big Women.
The Island holds the Body of Woman in its place names – from her shoulders, breast, throat, back and hip. These stories are woven into the land from a different era when beliefs reflected the great mother in the very land itself.
If the wind is right and the sun almost setting, or anywhere within the hours of light after the sun sets this is the time that this place comes alive. You can hear the chatter near the fairy knolls, and there is certain places where the sheep are running from and the wind picks up and you know your not welcome. And yet I’ve had other places clearly call me there.
The Loch of the Big Women
And yet I never felt alone there is always a sidhe in some from or another.
I’ll tell of some tales in the next few posts of abandoned villages, Holy Wells, Amazon Women and on meeting the Cailleach. Ancient tales which have been inverted and twisted and rewritten by Christian monks.
The Singing Sands looking over to the Isle of Rum
Next post will be a tale of meeting a Cailleach….