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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Radical Ritual at Summer Solstice (Invoking the Amazon)


The Warriors Shield

Summer solstice usually finds me in the Western Isles of Scotland, islands which hold the last threads of the stories of female warriors and Amazons - from the Queen of Moidart and her female warriors to the great Celtic warrior female Scathatch from the isle of Skye and the mysterious 'Big Women' from the Isle of Eigg. 

I host my 'Ancestral Mothers of Scotland' retreat on the isle of Eigg (whose Gaelic name means Isle of the Big Women). Some have asked what are we retreating from and accusing me of running away from our problems yet in reality women come from all paths of life to gather here for the week to spend time together outside of patriarchy. While there are many battles needing fought in this world, much activism and protest we also need to remember to retreat, to take a little time to recuperate, time to regroup and to plan our next battle. 


                                        Daughter of the North Wind - Warrior doll by Jude Lally

On the Path of the Ancestral Mothers of Scotland we use gestures of ritual to inspire ways of creatively resisting patriarchy. Now I don't mean some airy fairy gesture here for the Ancestral Mothers have no time for half baked requests or empty gestures - they are clear to tell you DO NOT WASTE OUR TIME! 

The point of coming to these islands is take a little time to journey between the worlds, to sink ourself down deep into the bedrock of the Ancestral Mothers. To know they have our back, to talk with them through their own land, the land of their stories - a land which often feels at the edge of the world. With long lingering summer twilights these lands often feel as if they are between the worlds, one foot in this world and the other in the otherworld. 

                                                      We swim in the Loch of the Big Women

                                               Renew our vows of being Carriers of the Stream

                                       Visit the Sheela na Gig and beachcomber for cowrie shells

                            Make art & dolls that represent our connection to the Ancestral Mothers

                             Lie in the underground Oracle Chamber and ask the old ones for their wisdom

We need this TIME OUT OF PATRIARCHY, to dream to plan. To carry out gestures of ritual that will see us through the next phase of activism - and each women who comes here works with different tools, they fight different battles yet they share the same cause - working for the planet and working for women/animals and the very land -  voices don't get heard. 

We fight our battles knowing we are rooted into the very bedrock of this place, rooted in the bedrock of the Ancestral Mothers - their stories, their folklore - the very knowing that patriarchy wasn't always the power structure on the planet! We once lived in partnership with each other, god was female. She was mother to us all. 


To take breath in and out at summer solstice can be to sit in circle - alone or with other women. To actively take time OUT OF PATRIARCHY draw a shield, your Amazon's Shield, your warrior energy. Draw the symbols of your strength, your talismans - those things that give you energy and direction. Sink down into the roots connected to that bedrock and let it replenish you. 

Restore yourself for the ongoing fight, your unique role in bringing this planet back into balance with Her. 



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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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