Cailleach Corca Duibhne - The Hag

The Element Encyclopedia of Witchcraft: The Complete A-Z for the Entire Magical World - Judika Illes 2005

Cailleach Corca Duibhne
The Hag

Cailleach Corca Duibhne, one of Cailleach Bhéara’s sisters, is the Hag of the Black Cauldron. Like Cailleach Bhéara, her primary territory is southwestern Ireland.

She is also called the Black Veiled One; this allegedly refers to the long black hair that veils her face. According to myth, it was Cailleach Corca Duibhne’s responsibility to tend the primordial Cauldron of Creation, containing the sacred Water of Life. Seven strands of her hair fell into the cauldron where they transformed into seven great snakes or dragons. When Cailleach Corca Duibhne left the cauldron briefly unattended, the snakes slithered out, in the process overturning the pot and allowing some of the Water of Life to spill.

The famished snakes went on a rampage, gnawing away huge portions of Earth. Eventually through spiritual intercession, the snakes were stopped and banished to the center of the Earth but the damage couldn’t be undone. The parts gnawed away had filled with the Water of Life, becoming Earth’s great rivers.

The myth describes the snakes as Cailleach Corca Duibhne’s children: she was granted seven periods of youth and beauty as compensation for their loss, even though their rampage was technically her fault—had she been watching the cauldron, the snakes, her transformed hair, would not have escaped. Like her sister Cailleach Bhéara, Cailleach Corca Duibhne eventually married seven husbands, outliving them all. She fostered fifty children, teaching them the deepest, most primal secrets of the Universe. These children founded Earth’s great nations.

See Cailleach Bhéara; ANIMALS: Snakes; TOOLS: Cauldron.