22 Postcards for Utopias Bach: postcard twenty-one

The Cailleach and the cat

The mycelia that link Artemis and the Cailleach might suggest alternative ways of exploring what’s implicit in Genette Paris’ statement. 

Effie Ross gave the Skye folklorist Frances Tolmie material, including ‘the song of the grugach, the guardian spirit of the cattle, which killed a girl in Glen MacAskill after she insulted an intractable cow’. Tolmie, who also took down verses composed by Màiri nighean Alasdair Ruaidh from Skye singers, would write in 1911 describing Effie (long after she had died), as an elderly woman who had lived alone, as follows:

She was a kind creature, but wild-looking and apt to turn crazy if unduly provoked; she had immense front teeth, tawny locks of hair straying from beneath her cap over a high peaked forehead, and her old skirts hung in fringed tatters over her bare feet. Effie’s conversation usually turned on the ancient lore of the district, and to my extreme satisfaction she sang old waulking-songs as we went over the moor, carefully teaching me the refrains. She was elderly but could not tell her age. When talking about the beauty of the world one day, she confessed to having gone down on her knees to a magnificent cloud overhead, stating her conviction that in doing so she had not committed a sin’ [italics mine]. (Frances Tolnie (1911) ‘Notes and Reminiscences’ Journal of the Folk-Song Society , Dec. 1911, Vol. 4, No. 16 Dec. 1911 p. 144. Downloaded from: https://www.jstor.org/stable/4433967).   

I want to link Effie Ross’ ‘magnificent cloud’ to The Cloud of Unknowing, the anonymous medieval text that advises abandoning thoughts and desires, particular religious activities and attributes, and instead having the courage to surrender both mind and ego to the ultimate mystery (one that some people refer to as the Godhead).