The great wheel is always cycling, if ever so slowly. It never stops, always in movement, like the moon waxing and waning and disappearing. As a doll maker I take my inspiration from the natural world, from the great archetypes our ancestors minds shape shifted into characters embedded in myth and legend and psyche. I take my inspiration from the qualities of these figures, and within that ancient tradition of doll making, of image making, of pulling the divine from the otherworld and into form.
The Three Sisters of Brighid
At this time of the year with the land frozen, frost shimmering and shining under the rays of a late rising sun with a mornings waning crescent hanging in the sky we prepare for Imbolc. As the cycle brings us through this holy threshold we turn to rites and ritual of the great Brighid. She who took many forms for many people’s as she travelled with us throughout the years. She is the great bear mother, she is goddess, Saint and a very special place of Mary of the Gael in Celtic Christianity – the mother to the new religion, foster mother of the Christ.
One ritual I perform is in the making of the Brideog doll. To invite Brighid as she returns from the otherworld to be present within this configuration of wool and cloth. To honor that doll throughout the year as if the very goddess was present herself.
The Owl Priestess
And so I am gathering wool and materials for this annual ritual, offering space to explore the shamanic qualities of this great goddess in an Imbolc retreat. But there are also other figures on the periphery wanting to be made – the Morrighan, Elen of the Ways and a challenge to create the great warrior Scathach.
So I’m curious, what great figure would you like to see honored with a doll?
Elen of the Ways
It’s cold, it’s winter it’s dark. Wither like me you love this time of year or if your yearning for the wheel of the year to spin a little quicker – Brighid is always there to enlighten us, to encourage us to gather by her hearth, to plan together in our communities…
Celtic Soul School is offering an opportunity to explore the many varying aspects of Brighid – from ancient Bear Mother, her relationship with the great hag the Cailleach, from her unique place in Celtic Christianity to exploring her shamanic qualities (and more). Click here for full details of this online course.
To be in the drawing for a free place on this course simply use the school form and become a Celtic Soul School member – it’s free, there’s no commitments and you receive offers of discounts for
There is also an online course exploring the Cailleach starting late February and also an in person group if you live in the Asheville area.
Good luck in the draw!
I’m just about to log off and head to the airport. There is a storm raging over the Atlantic, battering Scotland,England and Ireland. A wild storm creating 40 foot waves – raging, squalling!
The below picture shows the intensity, a black eye, a black hole, one giant eye. Could it be the Cailleach beating down? Whipping up her ferocity, claiming winter as her own.
We will see if flights are flying tonight. Maybe there will be a calm after her rage – perhaps a glimpse of the northern lights over Greenland? Gazing out into inly skies with dead cold stars shinning brightly.
A fitting Pilgrimage to visit the old creatrix hag!
This saturday we come together for a very special circle, to honor the great hag – the Cailleach. She who is the bone mother, the death bringer. A misunderstood figure as death is so necessary in order to provide regeneration and in turn life.
Click on image for ‘Cailleach Bhearra’ film
She is an ancient figure, way older than the Celts. We will explore the main sites relating to her, her role as creatrix and what animals are associated with her and what insights they give to her. We’ll also explore her as the crone face of the goddess Brighid but also in her role as the great mother.
In the afternoon we will create a mini Cailleach doll and discuss how we might work with her throughout the dark months.
We have a couple of spaces left, if you wish to reserve a place please email me at celticsoulcraft (at) gmail.com
Sat 15th November, 10.30 – 5.30pm. Asheville, $79. (5 mins from downtown Asheville)
A day to celebrate the archetype of Highland women – ancestors from the marginal Celtic lands of Scotland, perched at the very edge of the Atlantic.
We’ll share stories of what speaks to us about them, from their ‘Celtic Spirituality’ (a weave of Christianity and Celtic Pagan beliefs), and mythology such as the Selkie.
A guided meditation will take us to the most westerly lands, perched at the very edge of the Atlantic where views open up to huge vistas where the sea meets the sky (a very sacred space in celtic belief) and the concept of sacred thresholds or thin places.
In the afternoon we will begin by learning a waulking song in Gaelic, these are the songs the women sang as they worked. When tweed comes off the loom it’s stiff and the weave can be quite loose, after being soaked in stale urine (which helped fix the dye and partially soften the cloth they women then sewed the tweed together so it formed one continual circle. They worked together swapping gossip as the worked the wet cloth, in effect felting it – reducing it’s size by slapping it down on a table or hard surface which shrunk it making it shrinking it and making it softer. The cloth was always worked in a clockwise direction and as it was unlucky to sing the same song twice – songs were very long with lots of verses.
In the afternoon of we will make our own ‘Highland women’ needle felted doll, while all art materials and tweed (not tartan) will be provided you are encouraged to bring small personal and meaningful embellishments. We’ll combing earthly colors, incorporate elements of Celtic spirituality and make our doll a tweed cloak.
If you wish to pay by check please email me at judelally (at) gmail.com