Werewolf Radar: A Hazy Shade of Geamhradh
By Nate Balding
Art by Jason White
Published Issue 107, November 2022
You feel that?
The cold air against the back of your neck?
The chill that reminds you it’s time to tune your edges, bruh?
The frosty pine flavor of wind that’s coming fresh off of a brand new layer of that sweet backcountry pow pow?
Then it’s time to rip a 1080 for Cailleach Béara, winter’s mistress.
Don’t worry about the pronunciation — Béara is doing it right. In some regions they just went with Cally Berry, proving druidic precognition was less a bullseye than a general sense that someday someone would be winning an Emmy the same year they starred in Caghtwoman.
Scotland’s mother of the dark harvest has been born once again, as she does at every Samhain; a frigid blue-faced crone ushering in the dark days to come. But like a much more interesting Merlin, she too will age in reverse and, like a less interesting Rodney Dangerfield, will also go back to college for the spring semester. Will she also turn into a giant boulder in that time? The answer should be: “What the fuck are you talking about?” But it turns out to be: “Yes!”
According to folklore bridging the wet gap between Ireland and the lands beyond Northumbria, the “veiled woman” appears during the witching moments on All Saints’ night to horrifically replay her endless cycle of life tied to the earth’s own. In nearly every story, at some point she meets a man who, being nice to an old lady, is granted a quick view of her real self (YoungCrone at OnlyFans, viewable once you’ve proven you’re not a shithead).
And then she turns into a giant rock.
Which, if that’s your thing, more power to ya rockhounds. We do no kink-shaming at Birdy but we are quietly wondering what that’s about.
Come May Day, however, there’s a van’s a rockin’ joke that I’m above writing, but not above putting into your head, because Cailleach Béara returns to maidenform to welcome the remaining months of harvest and usher in hot girl summer as Brighid — her Hot Topic name — harbinger of sundresses and river sixers. Which of course occurs as she rides a dire wolf across the isles carrying a hammer made of human flesh and sporting an admittedly dope skirt fashioned from human skulls because this is still the story of an ancient weather-controlling goddess who straight up fucks.
Older tales link Cailleach Béara closely with Demeter or Kali, a terrifying power of birth and death that impacts all of creation. Some describe her as cycloptic, her single eye able to see in 360 degrees and over horizons. Her teeth are often red — kind of fucked up the NHS still has poor dental coverage if you’re a god, but it’s the system we have, not the system we want — with matted, white hair pressed frozen against her blue-black face.
The blue-black cyclopean face of a job creator.
Cailleach employed hundreds of men on a doomed farm through the winter under the condition that they’d only be paid if they could work harder than she. They should have known what they were up against when they read the contract titled Wage Theft — What You Need to Know About What We Do, but signed up anyway and, trying to maintain the pace of a neolithic deity whose entire being was conceptually tied to agriculture, did the opposite of get rich.
And sure, that seems like kind of a dick move. But on the other hand she’s responsible for many of the lochs and mountains of Scotland, having carried magic boulders in her apron during her breaks, because she’s also the original embodiment of rise and grind to drop them strategically wherever it looked like someone should have to put in extra work just to walk around.
So while you suffer through the next few months shredding diamonds between bouts of cocoa and checking the date on that bottle of Xanax your ex left in the medicine cabinet, remember to offer thanks to Cailleach Béara and hope that this week your job somehow gets a snow day because though the days are dark, they’ll get lighter soon. She promised.
Have questions about the paranormal?
Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter: @WerewolfRadar.
It’s a big, weird world. Don’t be scared. Be Prepared.
Nate Balding is a freelance humanoid who occasionally manifests in print and can most likely be seen at Werewolf Radar. Should you wish to hear him manifest audibly you can do so at the aforementioned Werewolf Radar’s associated podcast on Spotify and Apple, and if anything ever becomes humorous again, on a variety of stand up stages around the nation. If you’re truly craving further content there’s always @Exploder on Twitter — even if it is only a form of digital self flagellation at this point. His one thing that he considers actually accomplished was this time he was published in the journal Nature and then later collected into a volume called Futures from Nature, still available in places that have things.
Jason White is an artist living in the suburbs of Chicago. His favorite mediums are oil on canvas and pencil & ink drawings. When he was a kid he cried on the Bozo Show. His work varies from silly to serious and sometimes both. Check out more of his work on Instagram.
Check out Nate’s October install, Werewolf Radar: Funnin’ With The Devil, and Jason White’s art that inspired Gray Winsler’s short story, Shadows, or head to our Explore section to see more from these talented creatives.