Sisterhood of the Antlers

Stories of the Ancestral Mothers of Scotland from folk magic and the wise women who honored them. Rooted in the Bean Feasa (Wise Woman) tradition.

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Jude Lally

Jude Lally

I am descended from a long line of wise women – for I too am a shapeshifter, a mythmaker, a woman who has always had one ear to the ground and a foot in the other world. I am a listener to old bones and a collector of stories that I gather from the shorelines, deep in forests or atop mountains. Sometimes my shadow shows my other selves sometimes crow sometimes bear, I am She Who Wears Antlers.

I am a radical doll maker, taking this tradition back to its roots and the hands of my foremothers. They remind us of our sacred connection to this world, the otherworld and our ancestors. I am a collector of stories, carrying old ones and those one who need retelling.

I am of the Bean Feasa tradition , a wise woman tradition that stretches back past pre-Celtic generations. People sought the wisdom of the wise woman in times of personal crisis and today this tradition can help us face this deepening global crisis.

I am a cultural activist working from the Bean Fesa tradition rooted in pre-patriarchy which honors imagination and creativity and provides us with tools that can help us overcome the psychological effects of patriarchy.

Visit my website for details of online courses, in-person workshops and our annual pilgrimage to the lands of the Ancestral Mothers of Scotland.

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The Old Antlered One

I am a product of the land I am from. If you were to cut me open you’d find that my bones are made from her compacted soil, my lungs carry her air and her rain and thunder still flow in my blood.

For as long as I can remember the land and I have engaged in deep conversation. Not a conversation of words, a conversation of sensation, the brush of a crow’s wing, the power of a threshold, the invitation to rest by a familiar tree trunk. All these things developed over the years deepening through visions alongside burying relatives into the same sacred soil.

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If you're interested in the psychology underpinning Donald Trump and the roots that fostered his way of thinking and the breaking down of empathy. Here's a man I studied Spiritual Activism (part of my Human Ecology Masters degree) in a fascinating talk...

 

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                                     Dressing the Crone

“To sew is to pray. Men don't understand this. They see the whole but they don't see the stitches. They don't see the speech of the creator in the work of the needle. We mend. We women turn things inside out and set things right. We salvage what we can of human garments and piece the rest into blankets. Sometimes our stitches stutter and slow. Only a woman's eyes can tell. Other times, the tension in the stitches might be too tight because of tears, but only we know what emotion went into the making. Only women can hear the prayer.”                                                            ― Louise Erdrich, Four Souls. 


I couldn't sleep last night. As I got into bed and closed my eyes I suddenly saw the moonlight illuminating a milk offering on the Gruagach stone on the Isle of Colonsay. I had visited this little island off the west coast of Scotland this summer and had sat with the stone a couple of times. There is a long and entangled history of the Gruagach which takes us back to ancient pre-Celtic figures (but that is a story for another time).  

In my vision I sat with the stone and could clearly see the rope-like geological features on the surface of the stone, I could reach out and touch them. Then I saw the same moonlight reflected in a little pool of water on the stones on the top of Carman Hill (above Loch Lomond).  I watched the moon's light reflect off sandy beaches on far islands and in the faces of those who stood in their gardens and peered upwards towards her. Even as I fell asleep I traveled with her, looking down onto the scenes she illuminated. 

The night felt like a prayer between the moon and the earth, honored and felt by all who turn their heads upwards to bathe in her awe.  This feeling of prayer stayed with me as I awoke. As the morning's light changed through various layers of grey the rain turned to snow and the temperature plummeted. Today is going to be a cold day with tonight's temperatures plummeting still down to -12oc. I work from home so there is no need to go anywhere - just feed dogs and chickens and make some soup. 

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Go carefully over the next few days. Listen to the wind, watch how the crows fly. Watch the patterns in the clouds, listen to the whispers swirling around you. The worlds merge and the otherworld isn't some far off place, it is wrapped around you, tighter than a winter cloak.

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Crow call stirs you from sleep and brings you over the threshold of night into day. You awake, wrapping yourself in a warm shawl and step out into the threshold where it’s not quite day and not quite night - the place that magic resides.

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A Keening for Myself

A Keening for Myself

Slowly I find myself leaving. I take last walks to say goodbye to certain places which is a ritual I carried out all my life. I am woven together with threads of this place, my body holds her water and blood and my bones are made from her bedrock. Then slowly, without any movement, I shift between places. One foot is here while the other has crossed the ocean onto another continent. I am back to encompassing both worlds. Leaving is painful. It’s not muted by knowing I can return at any time. It’s an awareness which brings into focus the pain of those who left and knew they’d never return. Violently uprooted and ripped from the land. To be born of generations upon generations who lived and died on this soil to then be cleared away, eradicated as if they were vermin, swept aside to make way for the more profitable sheep.  

 

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The Warriors Shield

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