Pagan friday snuck up on me again this week and I’m now furiously typing this before I have to go to a party (yeah I say that like it’s such a chore.)
Did you know that the word ‘hag’ first appears in Middle English as a shortened version of the Old English word for ‘witch’? Food for thought, that…
The hag is typically depicted as a withered, ugly old woman and nowadays the term is seen as sexist and outdated, but I’m not going to focus on that- I’m going to focus on the different incarnations of the hag and then why we should celebrate her.
Incarnations of the Hag:
The Old Hag: ‘old hag syndrome’ is a term for sleep paralysis, in folklore this was caused by a hag sitting on your chest, pinning you down to the bed and giving you nightmares. Possibly the most terrifying feature of ‘old hag syndrome’ is that people suffering from it will wake and be able to move or even breathe for a short period of time. This was once seen as a paranormal event but is now more widely accepted as a medical condition- when sleeping the body shuts down so as not to act out your dreams and cause you to injure yourself.
Cailleach: is a hag goddess found in Irish and Scottish mythology, frequently depicted as being opposite the goddess Brighid she rules the winter months and is shown to be in control of the harsher aspects of the weather.
Baba Jaga: is a hag found in Slavic mythology, she is one of the most famous hags and is depicted as living in a house with chicken legs that can run through the woods. She gets around using a pestle and mortar and is not to be messed with. On rare occasions she may offer wisdom or guidance.
The Hag/Crone aspect of a triple Goddess: Goddesses like the Morrigan are often shown embodying the three aspects; maiden, mother and crone. The crone/hag aspect signifies wisdom gained through age and experience.
So why is the Hag important?
The Hag is a vitally important being to understand- especially for everyone living in the 21st century. Why? Because she is a woman who is not attractive.
We spend our whole lives being judged on the way we look, it’s not a good thing but it’s a fact of life. The Hag shows a woman who is wise, strong and independant- and who doesn’t rely on looks.
She does not charm people, she is not entrancing and beautiful, she is a woman who has had children and who has lived her life- but just because she has reproduced and according to nature has ‘done her part’ it doesn’t mean she is useless or redundant. She is strong and tough and incredibly wise, she shows us as women that we will always have a role, that we will never be redundant.
Embrace the Hag! She’s one of the best examples you will find of a strong, arse-kicking woman.