Ancestral Mothers of Scotland free online course

This is a mini free online course which starts on 15th August. It forms part of a host of free goodies up for grabs as part of the launch of the Ancestral Mothers of Scotland Retreat 2018 launch celebrations!

The course is a two session online course covering:

Who are The Ancestral Mothers of Scotland

Guided Meditation & Art

Make an Ancestral Mothers Doll

Tapping into your own Indigenous Lineage

Walking the Lands of the Ancestral MothersIf you’d like to pre-register for this course simply click below

 

Put That Rock Down

Etching by the Ice People

The silence of the forest can often be a wonderfully deafening place – not just the crows and the chipmunks but the sounds of the stream as it joins another – a reunion of water that maybe met in the clouds above days before the downpour or maybe they were together in the same puddle eons ago before being lapped up by a saber toothed tiger.

Today I came across an etching made by the ice people – they were great giants miles tall who slithered over the earth in an incredibly slow pace, grounding the earth with huge rocks at the bottom of their ice sheets. Over ages these striations (great grooves in the stone) have filled in with moss ( see the photo above of an etched out antlered being whose striated lines have been settled by moss people).

The Forest Watches with a Thousands Eyes

I’m currently in Maine in Acadia national park with locals who on days when the park is as busy as Suchiehall Street (maybe that should read Fifth Avenue for Americans) they can still find a trail in the middle of the park without a human soul). We walk as quietly as we can listening to chipmonk screetches and crow caw -announcing the approach of humans. But for us there is no one else around and I can recharge with deep lungfuls of sea mist which swirls in every couple of minutes and am sorely tempted to dissolve in the deep green mosses and banks of lichen (and one day I will be moss and lichen food).

Rock stack- pseudo spiritual offerings

We walk by the banks of a stream and there they are! Pseudo spiritual temples of nothingness! Little piles of rocks line in the middle of the stream-bed. They were made recently as I can still see the deep impressions of the places that one held the rocks. I carefully dismantle them and fit them back into their original places. Sadly those little creatures which were hiding under the rocks have been flushed out and either eaten by bigger creatures or found themselves new homes. I wish dismantling patriarchy was just as easy, putting things back where they belonged like women and girls into a partnership culture – I digress.

Markings of the Tree People

I’d love to ask someone why they make these little stacks. I do get a kick (literally) out of dismantling them with a well placed foot and have been accosted by people explaining that they are prayers, spiritual totems – hmm spiritual totems to faceless gods which demand their devotees to destroy the planet! They hold empty broken prayers they aren’t cairns. The word cairn is a Scottish Gaelic word it means a pile of rocks with some suitable significance. There are pre-Celtic burial mounds called cairns, there are cairns of piles of stones in true wilderness to make a way (ie go that way in the wrong weather and possibly die, go that way and find a warm cozy pub). You find cairns up mountains where hikers on reaching the summit will mark their climb by adding a stone to the pile – and yes these piss me off too.

Don’t Forget the Screwdriver

A days walking in Scotland has me bring a trash bag and a screwdriver. I’ve scaled mountains in Scotland only to see little plastic plaques (that usually adorn front doors) state that Uncle Jimmy loved this mountain. Well Uncle Jimmy loved the mountain because it was wild and free and that he could hike up here and be in another world away from the maddening chaos below. I’m not to sure if Uncle Jimmy would want his name on a plastic plaque drilled into a stone at the top of the mountain.  Yes, that’s when the screwdriver comes in handy.

So you might have noticed that little piles of stones piss me off and say way more of our unbalanced human attitude to the natural world than a cute stack of well balanced rocks. So I wrote a handy little guide to ask yourself should you ever be afflicted with this zombie reaction of making a stone stack.

1. Ask your self are you Andy Goldsworthy? Scottish sculptor and photographer whose work is admired by millions of people (see above collage for example of his work). No, not Andy Goldsworthy? Then don’t do it.

2. Are you Indigenous Alaskian creating a stone Inunnguag as a direction marker in the Alaskan wilderness? No your not, well then put that stone down.

Inunnguag stone marker created by Indigenous people of Alaska. Image by Ansgar Walk used under the terms of the Creative Commons licence. Click on photo for source.

3. Are you a Park Ranger in the ridiculously busy Acadia national park who has millions, yes I said millions of people come visit every year and do use stone markers to keep people on trails and so minimize erosion? No not a Park Ranger, then the answer is no, don’t do it and take off that park ranger uniform you look silly.

4. Are you a pre-Celtic person creating a Chambered cairn? Yes, well please go ahead I greatly admire your work!

5. Are you actually in your house in your garden? You are? Great then do build as many stone stacks as you want, in fact invite folks over to join you!


My Heart is in the Right Place

People, why do we feel we need to leave our mark on the landscape? Our great history of dominating, power over, exploiting and enslaving. It’s that kind of mindset that got us in the shit we are in today.

Leaf art by me

Make leaf art, take photos, write poetry make up songs – be inspired by the thing that drew you here in the first place just don’t dominate it pointlessly and destroy micro ecosystems! For I am stone woman and I make stacks out of houses and I know where you live!

Sign up for the Sisterhood of the Antlers mailing list! Click on the image above.

Bean Feasa of the Deer

The Wise Women of the Deer

Click on image to view in online store

Click on image to view in online store

Click on image to view in online store

 

Click on image to view in online store


Click on image to view in online store

Click the image to sign up & join the mailing list

The Ancestral Mothers Retreat, Losing the Cailleach and Back in Asheville


The Ancestral Mothers of Scotland Retreat

We all had a wonderful 13 days on the first Ancestral Mothers of Scotland retreat on the Isle of Eigg, off the west coast of Scotland. The weather was glorious which saw us paddling in warm waters and exploring white sandy beaches but we also spend time shrouded in mist on days when the clouds stayed close to the earth and made us feel like we were between the worlds.

We swam in dark, cold peaty lochs, danced to the drum, laughed, cried, made art and ate good food. We made promises to ourselves, befriended our wildest self, watched eagles soar and lambs being born. We stood under brief night skies (for at these latitudes there isn’t much darkness at this time of year), peered into dark caves, listened to the land and danced with ancestors.

We had such an enriching time that I’ve booked next year’s dates and vow to do it all again!

On Losing the Cailleach

Somewhere between the remote Glen Cailleach and Loch Lomond I seem to have lost the Cailleach (doll pictured above). Maybe she sneaked out of my rucksack and decided she needed to stay in Scotland. There is no image that can hold the likeness of the Cailleach, words can never quite hold her shape and our minds are limited in picturing the vastness of her being. What I have learned is that she lies in the thousands of eyes watching as you traipse through the heather. She is the snort of the ewe who protects her lamb when you wander a little too close, she is that breath of fresh air in the breeze which makes your eyes water and she resides in the honeycomb structure of white bleached bones of the creature who fell from the cliff.

My conversation with this old one is here in the wild places, in the strength of a wind that makes your eyes stream, the ideas which bubble to the surface out of an age old cauldron that exists half in this world and half in the other world. To get to know this old one you need to throw away everything you think you know as she’ll laugh at your bone stark ignorance.

Saying that I still spend time crafting words around this old one, shaping dolls into her fleeting forms but most of all my pilgrimages are in throwing what I think I know away, stepping into the wilds naked (metaphorically – most of the time) diving into high island loch’s and drumming into the great threshold of night on a highland evening. Through all this I may find an antler, an idea tied to a tree or a story from a snail – for these things are the language of this old one


Back in Asheville & What’s Planned for the Rest of the Year

Every time I leave Scotland it gets harder and harder to leave until at one point I’ll be there and not here. But for now we are back in Asheville (the collective ‘we’ being me and some assorted ancestors). After the retreat I visited my sister & her family in the South of England – lying in meadows & watching the clouds pass, visiting sleepy little villages and 14th century pubs. Visited the shore (English channel) for a haul of hag stones (everyone helped out). Then over to Ireland & Dublin for a visit to Newgrange where we squeezed up the great squeezed through the birthing canal of the great womb tomb of and hung out on the banks of the River Boyne. There’s a bit of a theme to my wanderings – bones, stones and wildness.

This is what’s planned for the rest of the year so far:

 

  1. Launching the Ancestral Mothers of Scotland Retreat

2. Celtic Amazon day workshop in Asheville

A day workshop in August exploring the reality of female amazon warriors and in particular Amazon warriors from the west coast of Scotland. With guided meditation, otherworld journey to live drumming, art making and creating your own needle felted Amazon doll. (Date to be set).

 

 

3. A new online course ‘Through the Eyes of the Ban Feasa’ (Wise Woman)

Through the Eyes of the Ban Feasa (Wise Woman) is a new online course launching in October. The course will explore five animals an opportunity to build a relationship with these animals through learning about their folklore, life cycle as well as giving voice to these animals & how we can step up for them.

To keep up to date with all of the above join our mailing list ‘Sisterhood of the Antlers’ by clicking on the image below:

 

 

Song of the Stones

The Cailleach on the Hebridean  island of Eigg

I’m glad to report that the first Ancestral Mothers of Scotland retreat was a roaring success! We all had a wonderful time on the isle of Eigg honoring the Ancestral Mothers – hearing their stories & visiting their sacred sites – beach combing, visiting a local croft, doll making, art projects with great company and good food.

The pre-Celtic shrine of the Cailleach

This was the year I finally made the pilgrimage to the Shrine of the Cailleach (Tigh nam Bodach) in the remote Glen Cailleach in central Scotland. It’s a pilgrimge that took two hours of driving then a round trip of 15 miles and worth every step! On the road to the shrine along by the dammed river Lyon

It was a great day to do the walk along by the dammed river Lyon (the river has been dammed to produce Loch Lyon for a hydro electricity scheme). On the way home we saw over 150 deer, bats and several hares. Laig beach, Eigg. The water was warm!

 

The Loch of the Big Women – Isle of Eigg

Sheep skull & cowrie shells

One of my favourite things of this trip was to discover Scotland has it’s very own kind of cowrie shell!!!

 

Sheep jaw bone – speaking for the animals!

I’ve been so inspired on this trip and whisperings from the great hag the Cailleach that i’m working on a new online course launching in October – Through the Eyes of the Cailleach (sign up below to keep up to date with launch details).

Seven Sisters cliffs – south coast of England

Today I’m southwards bound to visit family and possibly a wee trip down to the coast and hunt for hag stones on the beach!

Last trip before I head back to Asheville is a wee weekend in Dublin and a visit to Newgrange – the great womb tomb and monument of rebirth.

If you’d like to join us in 2018 on the Ancestral Mothers of Scotland retreat the website launches on 1st August – the retreat is limited to ten women.  If you want to be on the mailing list (Sisters of the Antlers) sign up below

A Pilgrimage to the Edge of the World

The Deer Goddess – an Ancestral Mother

Spring is exploding here in the foothills of the Appalachians as the ‘greening’ of the landscape intensifies. I’m always transfixed by spring which turns stark winter trees into great cathedrals of green. The greening obscures neighbors houses and becomes a sheltered refuge for birds and squirrels as we welcome swifts, hummingbirds and monarch butterflies.

We’ve already had days so hot they remind us of the blazing summer heat to come T – too severe for someone born in far more northern latitudes.

Drums of the Ancestral  Mothers

For the last month i’ve been weaving invisible threads in preparation for the first ‘Ancestral Mothers of Scotland Retreat’ – everything is booked and organized and I head off home tomorrow!

I’m looking forward to two weeks of ritual and ceremony of visiting interesting sites and staying in the once place on the Island of the Big Women (Isle of Eigg). Of all the sites we will be visiting on a small island which is only 3 miles by 5 miles I am excited to learn of a site which is new to me called The Oracle – an underground cave of sorts and possibly an Oracle site! I’ll be sharing more about this and all the other sites after our retreat but oh how this sites stirs the imagination! Wonderful inspiration for an otherworldly journey.

Entrance to the Site – Image copyright of Historic Environment Scotland

Image copyright of Historic Environment Scotland

Image copyright of Historic Environment Scotland

 

I’ll be posting on the journey here on the website as well as my Instagram account – which you can find here

If you missed the retreat this year we will be launching the 2018 retreat on the 1st August – if you haven’t yet joined activate your free membership in our Sisterhood of the Antlers and keep up to date with online courses, workshops and retreat.