Sisterhood of the Antlers

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

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Ritual of Burying the Doll

Posted by on in Paths Blogs

It is my ritual of Autumn Equinox to bury a small clay doll. She represents part of me that sinks into the deep dark of the winter months. Deep in the underworld, she is nestled under the soil, among sleeping tree roots.

This ritual only started a few years ago as normally I would symbolically bury her in a large black clay cauldron. In 2019 I took her with me while visiting home and on the Island of Eigg I followed a dream and buried her in the soil.

Sometimes in working with the issues I can't seem to find solutions to, I bury them. Part of this ritual was in calling me home, after 10 years of living in the states I knew it was time to return back home to Scotland and so I wrapped that intention in with the small clay doll as I placed her in dark peaty earth.


This little clay doll lay there throughout 2020 and I felt a connection with her throughout all the fear and worry about getting home. There of course is a lot of magic in that ritual for earlier last year (2022) with all the legal stuff in place I finally moved back home with my husband and our two dogs.

Autumn Equinox of 2022 was the first year I got to do this ritual on home soil. I can view the hill I buried her on from my house, and with binoculars, I can see the Holly tree which she is buried under. It's a small hill, yet from the summit, you can see down the River Clyde to the fifth, venture onto the next hill and you have a sweeping view of Loch Lomond and its small islands. There is a wonderful sweeping vista southwards and look east and you can see the edge of the city of Glasgow

An Iron Age fort once still on the summit of the hill and the lives of those who lived there have been in my daydreams since I was very young. There is even a legend that this small hill was the site of Camelot and that Merlin came from a local village. This place has always held wild magic and was the first place I ever heard the whispers of the old ones.


It’s roughly a 5-mile walk, and when I arrive at the foot of the hill I pause for a moment as I step from the tarmac road and onto the land, a threshold marking two different worlds.


I hadn’t walked far until I came across a Barn Owl pellet, a mass of regurgitated bones all shaped together with fur and other indigestible parts. I stopped for a second or two using a stick to pull the pellet apart, a momentary reading of the bones of little creatures, sacrificed by great talons.


There are both Rowan and Holly berries pressed into her hair, each holding a prayer and an offering of gratitude

There have already been some hard frosts, sleet, and snow since she was placed in this little opening between two stones. This is at the foot of a dry stane dyke (a traditionally built stone wall) with the roots of my beloved Holly tree around her.



Holly trees often act as markers in the landscape, their green colour standing out against the browns and golds of winter foliage, so much so that I can see her (with binoculars) from my window. I'll retrieve her at Spring Equinox, in a ritual of divination. But for now, she lies on the hill with days lengthening, curled up in a foetal position.

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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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