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Beltane (May Day) of 2004, My Lady Caillaich (KOY-luk) finally made herself completely known to me. I have waited for several years, knowing there is a goddess who would call me and knew I would have to do some of my own research before She would step forward. So I surfed the internet and read books and found a couple who looked intriquing. Tara (TAH-ray), the Hindu Green Goddess and, perhaps, Kali-ma (CAL-lee-mah). The dark goddesses were more in keeping with my own beliefs, but nothing whacked me over the head. So I ruminated on them for awhile and absorbed the concept of a dark goddess.

Then, about a year or so later I stumbled across Caillaich. There was little known about this archetypal, ancient Goddess of the Emerald Isles. All I learned was She is a triple goddess: Maiden, Mother and Crone. That sounded pretty much like what I was looking for and fit fairly well with what felt right, but I wasn't quite ready to wrap my head around Her. Then in 2004, just weeks before Beltane arrived, I was driven to actively seek a goddess once again. I once more investigated Kali, discovering more indepth treatises than existed a year before. Then I stumbled across a site that hooked Kali and Caillaich together.

I can remember from early childhood knowing there was a feminine energy connected to the woods, parks and gardens I wandered in and the it watched over me. I also knew that holiness didn't quite fit into the mold given to me by my Christian upbringing, but somehow it didn't seem all that strange to me. I've been deeply spiritual since earliest memories, but sought hard and long for religious connections. As I neared my fifties, I finally gave up trying to walk the Christian path and followed my heart into a more earthbased belief system. I spurned the male god I had been taught to revere and leaned far toward Goddess worship, even though I had no particular goddess to petition. I simply petitioned the moon and earth energies as they feel feminine to me.

Then I met My Lord, Herne, and once again turned to working with a male entity, but not forsaking the female energies and mysteries. It is my belief the Gods know who They are, no matter what name we call Them by. They know when we need Them and how to communicate with us if we take care to be observant. So I proceeded to call upon My Lord and female energies knowing full well, when She deemed me ready, She would step forward. And She did.

In 2004, every turn of the internet page took me back to Caillaich, no matter what goddess I explored over the few weeks before Beltane. Then I found out my given name, Colleen, is an American bastardization of the Irish cailline - meaning young girl. Cailline is also the Maiden aspect of Caillaich. Talk about bells going off!! I was given to the dark goddess before I was even born, however unwittingly my parents participated! And looking back on it, She has walked by my side my whole life. I have always felt Her Presence, however subtle It was.

Let me digress into the mundane momentarily. The ways of the gods are circuitous and inevitable.

Back in November of 2003 the members of the Yahoo Papermakers Group expressed a wish to meet one another. As our membership literally spans the entire world, such an enterprise is unrealistic. However, the idea of having regional gatherings struck a chord and the American membership formed two gatherings - a Western Gathering which was first held in Waldport, Oregon, US and a Northeastern Gathering which didn't get off the ground for a couple years. Plans and details for the Western Gathering flew over the internet as activities, billeting and meals were coordinated for our adventure at Karen Kennedy's Alsea Gardens. Several dates were put forth and, finally, the dates for when the most members could participate were set in stone. April 30 through May 3, 2004. As the day neared, all the attendees packed, pillaged their workrooms, harvested, cooked, beat fibers, gathered wildcrafting items and assembled show and tell with ever mounting excitement. Not one of us gave even the slightest thought to what significance that weekend would play - all we thought about was papermaking and playing in the water together.

About the same time frame the gathering was beginning to become a reality my wife, Joy, took me with her over to Ashland, Oregon for a day of browsing. I came home with a string of India-glass beads interspersed with small temple bells. I wore them home and hung them next to the window I sat by when I was working. The cats and I played them regularly. The day I was ready to pull out for Waldport I had this irresistible urge to grab the bells and wear them again - and so I did. I love the sweet rings and bells call the gods and spirits to join you in whatever activity you're doing. I was, by this time, actively contemplating on what I had learned about Caillaich and was muddling through Her aspects and learning about Her gifts. I figured Caillaich was the one speaking to me so I set about having dialogue with her.

The drive was long, slow and delightful. Spring was in full sway and every turn of the highway was a feast for the eyes. The weather was warm, but not hot. The sky was blue with scattered clouds. The forests were verdant with splashes of bright, cheerful colors. The streams and rivers ran clear and quiescent. Traffic was smooth and at a minimum, giving me the frequent feeling of quality solitude. As I neared the coast, I began to feel a heightened sense of magick in the air. When I pulled off the road, plugged my truck into four wheel drive and growled up Karen's driveway, I knew I was passing into another world outside of Time as we know it.

I pulled off my bells and set them in the truck when I arrived at the gathering and joined in the fun. Within the hour, I met and connected with our hostess, a woman of strong magic and great personal peace. A deeply spiritual woman, we instantly formed a close bond of recognition. At the end of the day, we shut down for the night, grabbed the potluck and prepared to go to The Captain's House on the beach where several of the members were staying. By this time, I was quite at home with all the members. I also felt someone "pop" me on the back of the head and distinctly heard someone say "bells!" Odd thing, though, there was no one around me. I knew Caillaich or one of the spirits was admonishing me. I quickly donned the string of temple bells and off to dinner and conversation I went. No one poopoohed my bells and were, in fact, curious about my calling the spirits and commencing dialogue with a goddess. I ended up wearing the bells until I returned home in the wee hours several days later.

Saturday was May Day and by mid-morning there were several vats of pulp ready, paper was being pulled and played with, conversation was a constant musical background punctuated often with delighted laughter. Occasionally some coincidence or small miracle would manifest itself and the members would make comment. We all commented, Christian and Pagan alike, on how magickal the whole experience was. When we took a small break, we realized we were out in the woods, we were brewing magick in our vats (nie cauldrons), we were all women, it was Beltane and there were thirteen of us!! Sister, that ain't no coincidence. The gods knew exactly what They were doing blending us together.

When I first started my day I spent more time watching the others and spending a considerable amount of time with our hostess. Karen is a beautiful person inside and out and delights in living with harmony in her surroundings. She has a herd of dogs, goats, chickens and peacocks and peahens. All the animals live together peaceably and watching her interact with them is a joy to behold. Her creatures know no fear of humans and mingle freely with abundant curiousity, side comments and enthusiasm. She took me into her home and rang her kitchen singing bowls for me. As she reached the last in the series, her resident spirits and my guardian spirits danced and played with us, causing our skins to tingle starting at the scalp and working down to the bottoms of our feet. One of the few times I could actually "see" the spirits and it was like watching a circus parade they cavorted so! Karen's infectious giggle of delight was contagious. She also took me aside to share some music and books that I've made note of and "must have" someday. Karen also gave me a reading with her boyfriend's medicine cards and I was stunned with the accuracy and how my secret self was brought to light and could be seen in print. I was quite taken aback and her gift of the reading has done much to assure me I am 98% on track. I don't have much left to surmount in lessons, but I do have much to share and gift to others. I have been on my path since childhood with a few side trips to gain experience and I am amazed to see how well I'm doing it. My confidence upon my return home was vastly shored up compared to my self-doubt before this enchanted weekend.

I returned to the papermakers and watched the goings-on before I began to dip my own hands into the water. I discovered casting and found it quite intriguing. I pulled out a couple of my polymer clay goddess molds and some Alley Goop molds and began to experiment, tinkling away as I brewed up my artwork. How easy it was to keep Caillaich and the spirits so close at hand as I basked in the commaraderie and joy of life our "coven" was stirring up.

Sunday, the members dispersed to begin their journeys home after a quick book binding project. I remained behind and would be leaving out the following day. Karen's boyfriend, John, arrived and they invited me to meditate with them. I had never meditated with anyone before, but jumped right in. It was a life changing experience for me. I could feel peripherally the incredible energies stirred by Karen and John and I was compelled to go completely right-minded. I turned my body over to the spirits and Goddess  and was able to do some fantastic energy work to heal the earth. I also received a vision from Caillaich and she showed me Her likeness. The graphic at the top of the page is not an accurate rendering, but it does portray some of the variety to Her aspects. Her beauty was breath taking. Her skin was the most incredibly deep, velvety pure black, like the empty spaces in the universe. Her hands were eloquent story tellers on the end of Her six lithe and graceful arms. Her eyes were fathomless pools of topaz blue with hair wild, thick and silken, curling like living snakes and as long as her torso. Her belly was swollen into a huge, perfect orb, extending well out from under Her ample, sustenance-heavy bared breasts. I could see the cosmos swirling just beneath the thin dark skin, backlit as if a lamp glowed within Her bowels. At that point She receded and the cone of energy began to dissipate. We all three awakened back to linear time at the same time. The love and peace and sharing just welled up and bubbled over, making us stand there and quietly grin together like happy fools.

When John left, Karen led me to her sacred circle. An idyllic spot easily accessible but not where guests would think to wander. To my astonishment and pleasure, I found all my long-missing psychic gifts returned in full. I am whole again after years of being psychicly crippled. Karen availed herself of my ability and asked me to "read" a dale just beyond the delicious ambience of the circle. I was able to "feel" spirits, sprites and fey - a world parallel to ours thick within the tangled branches of the trees and lush undergrowth. I would not want to be Rip Van Winkle and snooze there as the door between the worlds is thin there! *crooked grin*

Monday I reluctantly parted from the world out of Time and began my journey home. The long, slow drive back was spent in reflection and discovery of all the experiences, mundane and spiritual, I sampled over the three day holiday. I was reborn. I am at peace. I now walk hand in hand with My Lady Caillaich (whom, like the modern Irish, I pronounce CAL-lee). I am still learning about all the different sides to Her and what She encompasses and probably will for the rest of my life. She is enigma, retribution, death, life, love, kindness, compassion, righteosness, justice, warrior, tolerance and forgiveness. And that's just for starters! I find myself plunked squarely in the palms of My Lord and Lady and held with such gentleness and safe keeping that I pass each day giving thanks for Their Patronage.

I am blest.


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Last revised: December 7 2010