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.

  • Home
    Home This is where you can find all the blog posts throughout the site.
  • Tags
    Tags Displays a list of tags that have been used in the blog.
  • Bloggers
    Bloggers Search for your favorite blogger from this site.
  • Login
    Login Login form

Samhain Divination - with Deer, Bear and Crow


Dumb Supper

I value the snippets of Samhain my grandmother fed me - a crumpled aged piece of paper that described a rite for carrying out a Dumb Supper. It outlined laying out place settings for those ancestors recently departed with place names inviting them to the Samhain meal. One of the main roles of the Dumb Supper was to say goodbye to any relatives who had died but were still around, those relatives that were finding it hard to leave the living and fully cross over to the other side. 


Barmbrack with a whisky honey butter! (click on the image to read the article)


A Barmbrack is a Samhain divination bread which has charms baked into it.  You could read into the meaning of the object in your slice of bread although I can distinctly remember not being amused at discovering the figure of a baby and a ring in my slice.  After giving my divination away I decided to use my own charms and bake bread without the dreaded raisins and sultanas. While my barmbrack uses deer, bear, crow and a spiral charm plus an old Irish coin - feel free to use your own charms and set their own meaning.  

Barmbracks are still sold today in high street bakers (although probably with a great warning about choking hazards!). I would imagine that the charms vary from region to region alongside their reading and meaning. 

Barmbrack's on the Isle of Man were called  Dumb Cakes and made by unmarried girls and to be eaten in absolute silence, before going to bed, in the hope to see a future spouse in a dream - click here for source .

My Barmbrack charms (crow skull, deer, spiral, bear and old Irish coin)

I am not a fan of raisins and so I would use a brown bread or soda bread recipe and in a  household, with someone who has full-blown Celiac disease I don't think anyone wants the recipe for Barmback gluten-free pancakes! Here are three recipes, one for basic brown bread and two for traditional Barmback recipes: 

Brown bread recipe

Recipe one 

Recipe two - Irish Tea Barmbrack with a Whiskey Honey Butter Glaze



Try carving a turnip rather than a pumpkin - these are the original Samhain carvings. My mum will still carve a turnip but as you can imagine it's a lot more difficult and there is often a lot more swearing and blood involved! (Image from the Museum of Ireland). 



Click on the logo to read more about this free journey around the Wheel of the Year  



Last modified on
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.



Additional information