Sisterhood of the Antlers

Walking the path of the Ancestral Mothers of Scotland with stories, art, and ritual

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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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Tagged in: cailleach Deep hearth
Jude Lally is a forager of stories. You’ll find her out wandering the hills around Loch Lomond, reading the signs that guide her to stories in the land.

As a Cultural Activist, she draws upon the inspiration from old traditions to meet current needs.
She uses keening as a grief ritual, a cathartic ritual to express anger, fear, and despair for all that is unfolding within the great unraveling.
As a doll maker, she views this practice as one that stretches back to the first dolls which may have been fashioned from bones and stones and ancient stone figurines such as the Woman of Willendorf. She uses dolls as a way of holding and exploring our own story, and relationship to the land as well as ancestral figures.

She gained her MSc Masters Degree in Human Ecology at the University of Strathclyde (Glasgow, Scotland) and lives on the West Coast of Scotland on the banks of the River Clyde, near Loch Lomond. She is currently writing her first book, Path of the Ancestral Mothers.



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