My mother’s presence

Our Cailleach, Diana, will be joined by a very special person during her Samhuinn journey…


My mother did me the honour last week of agreeing to be part of the procession down the Royal Mile to St Giles on Samhuinn night.

Four and a half years ago, 18 months after my father’s death, when my relationship broke down and I was without a home, my mum took me in. My existing depression and anxiety were on a deep tilt downwards and my mum soon had not only all my furniture and boxes of precious belongings literally floor to ceiling filling her living room, but also me filling her spare bedroom with extremes of severe depression, anxiety and grief.


She made a secure and loving outer space for me as best she could, given that my inner world didn’t feel remotely safe. And as I faced my inner “demons” – not out of choice but because they were just all there in my face as a constant every second for months – she did whatever she could to help. It was a messy scene and we had outer support too along the way but still, in retrospect I’m honestly not sure how either of us got through and even though I wouldn’t wish that sort of intensity on anyone, one thing it did was act as a way for my mum and me to heal a lot of past pain between us and become closer and more understanding and respectful of each other than we’ve ever been and that’s not a chance many people get, perhaps especially one in her 40s and the other in her 70s.


With her support at that time, she played an integral role via her unconditional love, in me bit by bit since then, shaping a more meaningful life and a sense of being in my power than I’ve ever known, even while my demons still sometimes come out to play.

More simply, she saved my life. And not for the first time. And my awe and gratitude know no bounds.

My mum and I told Martin a bit about that time that I’d lived with her when he came to take these photos earlier in the week at the flat where I’d lived with her, and I love how he captured our connection to each other.

And I know that my mother’s presence near me on Samhuinn night will aid me too in staying in my Cailleach power.


You can see lots more photos of Samhuinn 2016 rehearsals and preparation in this album, walkthroughs in this album and group portraits in this album on Facebook. All our content is publically viewable so you can see if even if you don’t have a Facebook account.

Photos by Martin McCarthy

The Samhuinn Fire Festival 2016 is at 9pm on Monday 31st October on Edinburgh’s Royal Mile. Find out all about it here.

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