How does The Cailleach stand in terms of gender and sexuality? (historical and/or UPG)
As with all the other areas I have written about, here all I have are the various legends about The Cailleach and UPG. So, venture forth with this in mind. This is just my personal opinion and my own biases will be reflected.
But then, perhaps we do create the Gods in our own images? And so our views of gender and sexuality will be reflected in the stand our Gods take in terms of gender and sexuality.
I don’t think The Cailleach really cares one way or the other about a person’s gender, their sexuality, or who they might be mentally, emotionally, or physically attracted to.
Everything we know about gender and sexuality are social constructs. It isn’t the Gods who determine what makes someone a man or a woman, it’s people. And our ideas on what all this means is not set in stone, it is constantly changing. Gender is not the same as sex. Sex is biological while gender is sociological.
Cultures around the world have recognised more than two genders over hundreds or thousands of years. Just as a few examples:
The Navajo, or Diné, as well as other native peoples of North America recognise at least 4 different genders, male, female, male with a feminine essence, and female with a masculine essence. For the Navajo, this is behind the idea of the nádleehí, which translates into English as “one who constantly transforms.”
Kanaka Maoli of Hwai’i recognised a third gender, called the mahu. Like the two spirits of the Native American tribes the mahu were biological males or females inhabiting a gender role somewhere between or encompassing both the masculine and feminine. In India one can find the Hijra, in Mexico they are the Muxe, and in The Philippines they are called the Bakla. The Bugis people of Indonesia recognise 5 genders.
We know that gender roles were much less constrained for the earliest inhabitants of the British Isles, whether we are looking at the Celts or those who preceded them. Evidence has been found in archeological digs of both men and women assuming roles which over the past 2000 years had been designated as belonging to one. Just think of all the head scratching that has gone on when hunting implements or regalia associated with ruling figures have been found in ancient graves containing “female” bones (as determined by DNA analysis and through forensic anthropology). At one time, it would have been automatically assumed that such bones belonged to a man. Now, scientists are having to rethink these assumptions.
Now, in working with The Cailleach, I have noticed that She tends towards working with and through women (including those who self-identify as women) of a certain age. Those of us who may or may not have been mothers, who have reached the age of Croning, and are post-menopausal.
This isn’t just because we are no longer able to bear children due to normal biological changes, especially as we begin to understand external genitalia does not necessarily match with one’s internal gender identification. It is also, or more importantly related to the number of years that we have lived and the experiences that we have had. It is presumed that having managed to survive for such a long time, we may have picked up a bit of wisdom along the way.