The Wand of the Cailleach


The wand is made with a couple of bead weaving techniques. The wand has an inner core of a 1/4″ wooden dowel rod and the beading was done around the rod for stability. The weave is a hollow core Cellini spiral for the handle and a much smaller version of the same spiral for the wand. An external wrapped spiral around the lower part of the wand was added after the main wand was completed. Capped with jewelry findings for the point, and a crystal beaded sphere for the end cap. It took over 2100 beads for the entire wand and was complete over the course of 10 days. Total time working on the wand was probably around 20-25 hours.
This was my first attempt at any type of bead work of this nature. There was probably 2-4 hours of research and testing to find the correct type of beading patterns that could be used to obtain the look I wanted, a bit of a learning curve on how to do the actual beading and then figuring out a way to stabilize the bead work. (The dowel was the final solution after testing some other interior core materials). My first sample for the handle of the wand was turned into a bracelet before I moved onto the final weaving for the wand. The bracelet probably took me a few hours for practice. The materials are size 14, 11, 8 and 6 glass seed beads, 10mm and 8mm round teal crystal pearl beads, and 30 glass bicone beads for the sphere cap and some 4mm round faceted crystals for the spiral wrap. The tip of the wand is a couple of jewelry findings glued together to form the tip with small seed beads around the join and a crystal bead for the tip of the wand. The wand itself measures 14 3/4″ in length total, the sphere cap is 1″, the handle is 4.5″ long, the remainder of the wand, 9.25″ long. A nylon thread was used for stitching.

“The Tuatha Dé Danann (two-ah day dannon) was a magical race with supernatural powers. They represented ancient Ireland, for they were the folks who lived in Pre-Christian Ireland for centuries. The Tuatha Dé Danann arrived in Ireland with fascinating incomparable skills, with great skills in magic and arts.
One of the great Celtic ancestors, the Cailleach (kai-lyahh) was the goddess of the cold and the winds. Sometimes known as the Veiled One or the Queen of Winter, the Cailleach determined the winter’s length and harshness. Her power over nature made her a respected figure to even the highest ranking of leaders. Cailleach is a destroyer goddess and a storm bringer. She appears in the late days of Autumn to prepare for the arrival of Winter. People referred to her as the Dark Mother of Winter.
One of the reasons she’s associated with the darkness of winter is that she is usually born old in Samhain. Samhain is the festival marking the end of the harvest season (Oct 31-Nov1) and beginning of winter, the dark half of the year. She keeps getting younger until she becomes a fine-looking maiden by the arrival of the Bealtaine festival season. The Bealtaine festival is on the first of May and signifies the return of Light.
The color blue usually symbolizes Cailleach. According to the Irish myth, she has one blue eye. Not only does the blue color identify her, but it also signifies the cruelty of the winter breeze. She is known for having a great number of foster children throughout her lifetime. The Irish believe that her grandchildren and great-grandchildren formed the tribes of their County Kerry.
I am a child of County Kerry, as were the women before me, my ancestors are descendants of the great Cailleach. The wand of blue and silver and white (representing the Cailleach and winter) has been passed down for many generations to the women in our family. Starting its life centuries ago in Ireland, it was carried on the great journey by ship across the cruel Atlantic Ocean to New York when my grandmother crossed its waves looking for new opportunities in a foreign land. And so, the legacy continues as the descents of the great Cailleach continue to pass their knowledge and the wand from generation to generation, upholding the duties of their ancestors and continuing The Veiled One’s legacy.
The wand will cast cold upon its enemies freezing them in place for all eternity and will cast warmth upon its family and the women who wield it to protect them from the winter.”