Mar 13th, 2018 | By | Category: Articles

By Ceri Norman

The Snow came late this year, coating many parts of the British Isles in a far thicker layer of Snow than many of us are used to. The town I live in was cut off from the outside world and the beach entirely resculpted by the combined action of the snow, the wind and the waves. It very much felt as if the Goddess and Faerie Queen of Winter, The Cailleach, and her Snow Faerie allies such as that most cheeky of chaps, Jack Frost, were particularly reluctant to relinquish their Wintery hold or were having one last blast at our expense. When the News named it as the “Beast from the East”, it got me thinking that perhaps we had been blessed by an unusual visit from Snow Deities and Faerie Beings from far further east. Maybe The Cailleach decided to call in some extra reinforcements this year?

As the weather blew in from Siberia I recalled stories I had heard as a child of the Russian Snegurochka (‘Snow Maiden’) and her Grandfather Ded Moroz (‘Old Man Frost’) who bring gifts to the good boys and girls and leave only melting snowballs for those who have been naughty.

Snegurochka’s story is a powerful and tragic one: A very in love childless couple create the figure of a longed for child from snow, and the sheer power of their longing brings the snow girl to life. She grows up to be very loved, happy and popular. One day Snegurochka’s many friends invite her to play with her in the woods at the Festival of St John or Midsummer’s Day. As is traditional in Europe a bonfire was lit as part of the festivities and the children leapt through the flames. Sadly as Snegurochka took her turn, the flames melted her. In another version of the tale Snegurochka makes it to adulthood, and it is the fire of first love from her heart that melts her. Her life may be fleeting, but she is a blessing to all who knew her.

While Snegurochka is a fairly recent addition to Russian folklore, Ded Moroz is an ancient pre-Christian Wizard of Winter just as The Cailleach is an ancient Witch of Winter, but in today’s Russia he is more of a Santa like figure and some say he is in fact Santa Claus’ Grandfather. Both Ded Moroz and his Granddaughter Snegurochka wear crowns of icicles and snowflakes, thick blue robes and cloaks lined with thick, pure white fur (or snow). Ded Moroz carries a traditional style Wizard’s Staff for both magical purposes and mundane ones – after all a decent staff helps keep you on your feet whilst treading through thick snow.

With this visit from the traditional gift givers of Russia and parts of Eastern Europe it did indeed feel like Christmas again, and the children were keen to make the most of it building snowmen, tobogganing from every available incline and having snowball fights. While many viewed the snow as a nuisance, to many of us this was a gift, just a belated one. Snow has the magical ability to make us feel like kids again if we embrace it! Although spring is usually a time for spring cleaning, internally and externally, it was as if this year we were magically given a clean slate, that our spring cleaning had paid off and now was the time to create something new and truly special from the blank canvas that the ancient Snow Deities had provided.

For a little while we were blessed by the beautiful and magical presence of Snegurochka, before she melted away, watering the plants that are now springing forth.


Ceri Norman is the author of Faerie Stones – find out more about her here –

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