Cailleach at the Edge of the World

The Cailleach (Old Woman in Scots Gaelic) at the Edge of the World is a series of stories from the Outer Hebrides praising the wild wisdom of the land and the old ways.

Tracy Chipman ~ Storyteller

Biography ~

I am a Storycarrier, a listener and teller with such tales to share. I believe that stories connect us in magnificent and powerful ways to the natural world, to one another and to the deepest heart of our sweet human-selves. Life is connection, it is our relationships, and storytelling is a long tall drink from that mighty flowing river.

I am lover of beginnings, middles & ends, a myth maker, an educator, folklorist, and sometimes writer.  Presently I live in the land of my birth, west and north in Wisconsin, where milkweed, red granite, Great Lake waters and all four full seasons haved shaped me and continue to grow me into the middle of this life. I have also lived wide arcs of the sun’s dance far and wide listening to constellations of blooming Scottish machair to the bone dry mesas of New Mexico to the singing mountains of the Pacific Northwest. Listening deeply to the stories of the stones, the wind, the creatures and to the people.

​My repertoire is a wild and wide open collection of folklore, wonder-wisdom tales, myth, personal narrative and original material dreamed from sacred places.  Each tale, is given/told with the intention of celebrating our shared humanity.

​The breadth and depth of life fills and fuels me and so I tell/work with a great variety of audiences; children, adults and elders in a variety of settings; schools, libraries, cafes, festivals, retirement communities, in cozy living rooms (& house concerts), bookstores and deep in the woods around warming fires.

I offer classes/workshops; giving practical experience into the  ebb and flow of storytelling, sharing the incredible life long importance of active listening & imagining, exploring the power of storytelling to effect change, teaching how to tell a good story so people want to listen.  I have taught at schools from coast to coast and in the Midwest.  .

In the 1990’s I was called to do fieldwork with The Hebridean Folklore Project in  the Outer Hebrides islands of the wild northwest coast of Scotland. There my feet tread the single track roads and such blessed times were spent in the company good folk telling the stories of their evocative landscape.

Cailleach at the Edge of the World ~

Now is a time of dissolution, chaos and of deepening into the mystery as the worn fabric of our relativity unravels – this is the work of the wise Crone, the Cailleach. This story and the sacral-sister stories joining her are stitched from the peat soaked lochs, the salted songs of the North Atlantic and the expansive and well storied moors of the Outer Hebridean islands to the north and to the west. These are stories about and for this unsettling but oh so fruitful time. In praise of the wild wisdom of the land, the old ways, of the Cailleach’s bone creaking dance tis north and west, north and west to the edge we’ll go!

The Hebridean Folklore Project ~

The Hebridean Folklore Project is what happens when the desire to do something purposeful, meets up with inspiration and synchronicity. …and the foolish endeavor of youth!

​The Hebridean Folklore Project was founded in 1996 as a cultural organization to help keep Scottish Gaelic folklore alive & accessible.   The Project focused on connecting with the tradition bearers from Scotland’s Outer Hebrides islands and bearing witness to the folklore, songs and poems still carried and told there.

​From 1996 – 2004 I travelled to the Outer Hebrides and in all season and all weather I walked, hitched, ferried and bussed over the land, arriving to a warm welcome and hearth to visit with good folk, with elders and tradition bearers.  Hours of conversation about their home-land, their lives growing up on these remote islands, Gaelic language and the stories that swam both thick and tenuous through the years and generations were shared and appreciated.

​From Barra, South Uist, Benbecula and North Uist,  Harris and Scalpay I was welcomed. Cups and cups of scalding hot, strong tea, homebaking (put on at least a stone!) and sometimes sipped a wee nip of the water of life, uisge beatha were consumed. Sometimes, when the time was ripe, I recorded their stories, poems and songs in Gaelic, and if they were willing, in English as well.

For decades the analog recordings travelled across the US with me in a battered suitcase as I roamed and finally in 2016, settled back in my birth-land of Wisconsin the 40+ hours of recordings with over 40 individuals were digitized! They will soon be available through the University of Glasgow’s Digital Archive of Scottish Gaelic (DASG) – https://dasg.ac.uk/en project as well as the Gaelic arts and hertitage organization, Ceolas http://www.ceolas.co.uk/ in South Uist.

Weaving Worlds Story Circle ~

Weaving Worlds Story Circle is about belonging, sacred place & connection-making through story in flow with rhythms of the Earth’s dance around the Sun.

From Samhain to Summer Solstice and each seasonal, Earth loving holy day in between I will tell a story to you, and to the Circle of US. This story will be shared via 21st century technology and include prompts to help you deepen into the story, to share and dialog about the story and if the story speaks to you – to tell the story! You can simply receive the story, court it to see what magic happens, and you can also engage about the story with others in the Circle via social media if you wish. This can be as inner an experience as you’d like and an outer experience as you like. More information here – http://www.listentoatale.com/weaving-worlds-story-circle