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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Descending Into the Dark

Posted by on in Paths Blogs


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.

We have past Samhain's eve and have now descended into the dark of the year. Samhain isn't over, it is a season, not a day. Our ancestors walk with us and soon we'll reach that threshold of where Samhain leads us over to the Winter Solstice. 

The path I walk takes me in search of the stories that lie behind the stories, for that is where the magic resides. behind the dooking and the guising at Samhain, it's the great pre-Celtic crone the Cailleach who brings us into the dark of the year. She makes her way to the great whirlpool of Corryvrecken and washes her plaid in it's churning waters. As she swirls the ancient cloth in the waters she utters a primordial incantation, in a language as old as the mountains whose inflections mirror the web and flow of the tides and the cycle of the seasons. As she shakes the plair=d dry a few water droplets instantly freeze and turn the tops of the surrounding hills white in the first dusting of snow. 




With each frost, we move deeper into the dark, trees and plants returning their energies back down to their roots ready for their deep rest over the winter months. What is your focus this deep?

The root of the word focus is hearth, a place we gather around in the winter, to keep warm, to cook, to daydream into the flames and read the shapes and symbols that appear. It's a place we gather with friends, to share stories and celebrations. 



 So what are you gathering for your 'hearth' time, what is your focus this deep? The Cailleach teaches us an ancient lesson that death needs to happen in order for rebirth to take place- there can be no new growth of spring without the great dying back of winter. 

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As an artist and Cultural Activist, Jude Lally is rooted in the inspiration of her Ancestral Mothers. All her work comes about through exploring her relationship with the land through art, ritual, imagination, and creativity.

She uses the inspiration of old traditions to meet modern needs. While keening, was traditionally a way to ament the death of someone in the community, Jude uses it today as a way to address modern needs in allowing an expression of grief we hold for all that is happening across the planet. In using keening in this cathartic way she then engages participants with gestures of ritual which help them deal with their grief and then inspires them to work in creative ways in acts of resistance, working towards a restorative culture.

She calls herself a Radical doll maker who views her art as part of a practice that stretches back to the first dolls fashioned from bones and stones – such as the Woman of Willendorf.

She gained her MSc Masters Degree in Human Ecology at the University of Strathclyde (Glasgow, Scotland) in partnership with the Center for Human Ecology, with her thesis entitled ‘Fire in the Head, Heart, and Hand. A Study of the Goddess Brighid as Goddess Archetype and her Relevance to Cultural Activists in Contemporary Scotland’. She currently lives in Asheville, Western North Carolina but is moving back to Scotland this year.



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