In my lunar devotions I honour three Goddesses in turn. On the night before the full moon I make offerings to Brigantia or Brighid. On the night of the full moon I make offerings to Epona Rigantona (my personal understanding is that these are titles for the same being but I know others may feel differently). and the night after the full moon I make my offerings to the one I know as Cailleach.
Ladies of the Land
I know some may see these Goddesses as tied to the Maiden, Mother and Crone concept but I don’t see them this way at all. When I was starting out with Paganism this was a concept I found useful but I’ve grown and changed since then. My relationships with my deities have gradually taught me that these beings are not tied to a particular human appearance or apparent age. It may suit them to take on a particular feel or appearance in order to teach or for the sake of making an initial connection but sooner or later my experience is they change that appearance in the same way we’d change our clothing. Some deities may grow impatient with someone that is slow to get this idea, others will be more patient and teach us gently. I was lucky enough to be taught this idea fairly gently and with some humour which is just as well as I don’t think I was very quick to grasp this idea.
These three Goddesses may seem at first glance to not have a great deal in common. One set of myths even places two of them (Brighid and An Cailleach) against each other as summer and winter queens. To me though these beings have a particular areas of influence where they overlap to some extent and that is the Land.
My understanding of the Cailleach I know is that she is a being deeply tied to the Land and in particular the wilder areas of Scotland. She is in the hills, mountains and glens of the land I live in. My impression is that she’s not actually that fussed about most people, she seems to prefer the company of the non-human beings living in and on the Land. Sometimes she’ll take an interest in a particular person for some reason. In my experience if that someone is you it is likely to be a challenging relationship at times but also one with a sense of deep love and support.
Epona Rigantona to me is also linked to the Land but is much more interested in people. I fell her interest is drawn in to those areas of Land that people in habit. Among other things she is a carrier and granter of sovereignty in relation to human tribes. And I mean this in the older sense of sovereignty as being in service to the Land and the tribe that live on it, leadership and service interlinked. While I feel she has much more interest in people generally than the Cailleach I know her focus seems to be the relationship of the tribe and the Land. Again I feel she will take an interest in particular individuals and my experience has been a much gentler and lighthearted relationship than that I have with my Cailleach. It is she that led me to my present understanding of the way in which deities can use appearance.
Brigantia is a being I’m still finding to be a greater mystery in some ways. The aspects of the others I speak of above are but one small facet of these wonderfully complicated beings. I see Brigantia as linked to a specific area of Land and at the moment I’d say that is northern England and parts of Scotland. I’m not sure of how far the ties to the physical Land spread for this being. I see her as being interested in the peoples that live on her areas of Land not so much as carrier and granter of sovereignty but as a warrior and protector. I also see her as having a particular interest in small focused areas of Land containing a family hearth and home where she is honoured. At the moment my main interactions with her have been to that aspect of her being that is focused on hearth, home and family but as with the others I acknowledge that she is much more than this.
These three being to me connect to the Land and those on it to me with expanding and overlapping circles of influence but they came into my life at different times and for very different reasons. That story though is for another time.