It was the first day of May and Linnie was visiting with Nan McFann. Linnie enjoyed her visits with the old woman—she’d been kind to them since they’d retreated to the bothy on the north bank of Loch Lyon after the events on Drumossie Moor.
“’Tis Beltane today,” said Nan, “Time to bring the Cailleach and her family out into the sun.”
“Aye, the Goddess. She’s looked after our lands for longer than time remembers—as long as we look after the stones. She’s the Goddess of creation, though she’s not amiss to a bit of destruction when it takes her fancy. Mayhap you can tell her your wishes after.”
“I dinna think my wishes can come true,” said Linnie. What could she wish for? That Da hadn’t died at Culloden? That Charles Edward Stuart had never left Spain? That all the redcoats would die of the pox? That she hadn’t become a grown woman at the age of twelve? Defeated, she let her shoulders slump.
Nan led her up the glen until they came to a turf-roofed shieling.
“This is Tigh nam Bodach,” said Nan and reached inside the shieling, reverently pulling out a stone that was vaguely human-shaped. “And this is the Goddess Cailleach. She comes out with her husband, Bodach, her eldest daughter Nighean and her nine younger children every Beltane, where they remain under the light of the sun until Samhain.”
Linnie felt the power of the ancient stones as she helped Nan to stand them in front of the shieling.
“Now, tell Cailleach what is in your heart, child,”
Linnie held her hands as if in prayer, losing herself in her thoughts for several minutes. With a sigh she said, “There’s been enough destruction already. We need Cailleach to help build a stronger Scotland, to help us recover.” She looked to Nan.
The older woman took Linnie’s hands in her own and nodded in approval. They walked back down the glen together and when they reached Nan’s croft, she gave her a warm embrace before gathering her basket and heading for home.