Throughout Cailleach, poet-musician MaeDea Farrell Moon centers the artforms of transformation. Trans-formations : first, serene as swaying reeds, then cataclysmic like Earth engulfed in flames; these shifts are spoken and sung in blooming prayers for bone women, Earth beings imploring us to surrender, to banish cruelty, and give in to devotion.
An audiovisual dreamwork constructed from documentary footage, the film centers erotic altered states as ways of knowing and honoring sacred queer desire. Filmed primarily in the Béarra Peninsula, on the edge of the wild Atlantic way and a short distance from the Hag Stone of Bhearra, the work manages to be both intensely rooted in this patch of Earth and otherworldly as it recalls the mysteries contemporary capitalism would hope to erase.
Cailleach explores facets of ancestral remediation, land honoring, and transpersonal techniques to shift patterns of violence, Cailleach is also a joyous testament to futures free of gendered brutality, futures in which wisdom is culled from the interaction between land, ancestry, and the body. Cailleach also presents Farrell Moon as an artist constantly searching for wider edges of their transdisciplinary craft while investigating commitments to their ancestral lands —here are the oceans their ancestors fished, the wells from which they drank, the stones wherein they held ritual, all of which come into Farrell Moon’s body with sensuous surrender.
Featuring documentation of sight-specific ritual performance work, the film centers a Poet in deep conversation with different aspects of the self. Amidst an ancestral journey whose road-map is made from sensual desire, the Poet is guided throughout the dreaming Earth and watery underworld; in doing so, they choose to turn towards inherited intergenerational traumas. In conversation with Cailleach, the knowledge of the land, and the triple nature of Brigid, the Poet engages with practices of devotion and reciprocity with both bravery and pleasure. They harness their sexuality as an energy of purification, weaving vivid new patterns of self through prose and song.
Director's note: "The energy of Cailleach has reanimated parts of myself that have been dimmed, harmed, and cut away by the wounds of colonization. Within my film-testimony, I hope to illustrate how ancients live through us, vividly engaging with our day to day lives. While the film was created as part of the Deernacaperna Artist residency, I feel it represents much more than the culmination of a single residency. It is one iteration of my life’s work to re-integrate my ancestry within disparate parts of myself. By holding ritual on my ancestral lands, I was able to reconnect not only through memories and dreams, but in a deeper fashion by conversing with the lands and seas themselves.
I am listening to the vast perspectives of Irish cultural bearers who have been harmed by the Diaspora seeking to reclaim what they lost through co-opting and appropriating. Through this engagement, I am invested in a long term process of critical thinking around what it means to honor these traditions. Many Thanks to the Holding of the Oaks, Freida and Hans Meany who held a beautiful container for this art to be birthed in the world. Thanks to Valentina Gika, the lady of the largest heart. To the lands of the Bhearra, Himarë and Permet. The warm springs, the deep wells, and the Sea."
- MaeDea Farrell Moon February 2022