The Ancestral Soul Path

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Dancing with the Grandmothers. Deep in the Cave

The snow began falling yesterday afternoon here in the foothills of the Appalachians. All throughout the night it fell steadily and soundlessly. I got up before dawn and went outside for my morning ritual of whispering into the threshold that time when it’s not quite night yet not quite day. I feel those deep heart gratitudes and prayers leaving me and travelling out onto the shimmering strands of the great wide web, into the weaving hands of the ancient foremothers.

Deep in the Cave

This winter I have followed the lulling song of the energies of the plants and trees as they took their energy down deep into their roots. I too have burrowed deep into my cave and tended to my roots. Some days I sit by the fire and stare into the flames, other days I paint pictures of the bear grandmothers on the walls and watch them dance and sway when the flickering flames reflect on them. Other days I draw all the insights gathered from dream fragments, of whispers and those that fall with the glittering showers of snow, sometimes I stitch and sew and create wise women who wish to be born. It is is a rich time indeed if you can mange to stay undisturbed and nestled in the thick layers of darkness.
There is a path, an ancient path that walks the strands of the great cosmic web. It is the Ancestral Soul Path, one which thousands of generations of women have walked, danced, sung and woven deep magic into. It’s a path that walks the thresholds as it weaves in and out of this world and into the otherworld.

 

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The Ancient Mothers of Scotland Retreat

This May you are invited to join a tribe of like minded women and travel the Ancestral Soul Path on a spiritual journey to the Ancient Mothers of Scotland. This journey takes you on one of the top 3 spectacular train journeys in the world – the West Highland Way weaves through the beautiful wilderness of Scotland, framed by mountains, a journey where you often spot deer from the train. This journey takes you from the bustling city of Glasgow up to the coast at Mallaig where a short ferry ride takes you over to the Isle of Eigg.

Eigg’s Gaelic name is ‘Eilean nam Ban Mora’, which means Isle of the Big Women and it’s the magical realm of these myths and stories that forms the hearth for our time together. From tales of Amazon warriors and Pictish Queens to the Cailleach and Brighid, from hints of Holy Women, Brighid and the great Deer Goddess whose bones form the bedrock of these small isles.

Ritual & ceremony provide women with the opportunity to explore their personal intentions while engaging in shamanic arts such as doll making, singing and nature art and mapping our journeys fosters an exploration of insights and experiences.

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The Stone Planting Ritual

Employing programs such as Joanna Macy’s ‘Work That Reconnects’ participants have the opportunity to express their joy of living on this planet as well as the grief in what’s happening in this world and then through shamanic journeying ask future beings for their guidance and then commit to the work they already bring, or wish to bring to this world.

As we walk this path the land is our ever present companion in this process as we synchronize to her rhythms and ever changing faces. The central focus of the Ancestral Soul Path is to sit in circle as we gesture, tell stories within personal ritual as each women speaks her story into sacredness. This path is walks on ancient spiritual bedrock and offers a deeply transformative process – that blooms a unique bloom within every woman unique to her and her path in this world.

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There are days set aside for personal reflection – walking on the beaches or with art


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Mapping our journeys on the Ancestral Soul Path

Our retreat itinerary covers:

Blessing by the Well of the Holy Women

Storytelling of the Ancient Mothers & the Big Women of Eigg

Honoring our Wild Self

Initiation to your own Ancestral Soul Path at the Loch of the Big Women

Joanna Macy’s program of the Spiral of Reconnection

Shamanic art – Doll Making, art in nature, mapping our journey

Walks to local sacred sites

Visit to a local working Croft and the Crofting Museum

Meet up with local women and an evening joining their singing group

Stone planting ritual

Ritual, ceremony and a Celtic Need Fire

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You can sign up for retreat updates – just click below for full details and for details of our evening talk on the retreat 2/16.

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Grounding with the Wise Woman

Doll Making & Stone Medicine

Imbolc Retreat

East Asheville Fri 2/3 7-9.30pm & Sat 2/4 10am – 5.30pm


biddies-crossImbolc is the festival of the Celtic Goddess Brighid the ancient Mother Goddess of Ireland yet it can also be described as the feelings of unease and uncertainty that often arrive at this time of year. Our current political climate and the current state of affairs on this planet could be seen as embodying the feeling of Imbolc.

In this weekend retreat we will explore two main tools in staying grounded, rooted and nourished through stones which support our journey throughout the wheel of the year and making a traditional Brideog doll. Tools which both have an ancient lineage found in the woven baskets of the Wise Woman.

 

 


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In this Weekend Retreat We Will be Exploring: 

Imbolc Traditions

Several traditions around Imbolc – from protective prayers we can cast in times of feeling uneasy to traditional songs and carrying out the tradition of laying out the Bhrat – cloth for Brighid to bless (which we will do on the friday night). We’ll also exploring our intentions through Brighid’s Wheel (cross) discuss how to work with your Brideog doll as well as guided meditations & shamanic journey.


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Stone Medicine

Explore the basics of what stone medicine is and how the stone pack you receive can support you throughout the year as well as meditations in relating to the energies of the stones we are working with. We will also incorporate stone medicine into our doll making.

 

 

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Practical Magic

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Click on the image to view the dolls in my Etsy store

Poppet definition: Late Middle English: based on Latin pup(p)a girl, doll. Compare with puppet.  A term of endearment (Oxford Dictionary online)

These little poppets are made with clothes pegs and special scraps of tweed and linen dressed in headscarves and shawls sometimes wearing pendants and symbols. I see them as representing the traditional wise woman that populated myths and stories throughout time. They are a symbolic representation of those who carried the stories, the herbal knowledge of working with plants, those women who midwifed not just new souls into this world midwifes of hopes, dreams and souls.

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                                   Cailleach an Dùdain, Isle of Eigg (The Old Woman of the Mill-Dust).

My Wise Women foremothers followed the wheel of the year as a women’s psychology observing each stage in the cycle as it related to themselves, stages of growing and honored their own divine child, maiden, amazon and crone etc throughout the year.

I grew up with the term poppet which in Britain is still used as a  term of endearment said to a child. My poppets are tools and it is up to the practitioner on how they work with a poppet – it was Hollywood ran with the ideas of the poppet and the Vodou doll as a practice of dark arts. The doll after all is simply a tool which helps focus our intentions.

Being Scottish I see the poppet as a traditional Scottish doll that can be placed on the timeline which traces dolls as tools of intention, magic and ritual back to the stone figurines of the Paleolithic and Neolithic.

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My poppets represent the rich layered traditions of women’s mysteries, the ones who carried the stories – acknowledging that often those stories had to go underground in times of persecution. These poppets are a focus, a tool in our connection to She Who is Everything, they are reminders of ourselves, our lineage, the person we are, the person we are becoming and an acknowledgement that we have much work to do in these dark times. We live in thresholds times, like the wise women themselves who walked between the physical and spiritual boundaries some of us work in the threshold and rebirthing of a vision that once flourished in a time before patriarchy.
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Women in Galways, Ireland

The women in these photos were good Christian folks but Christianity in Scotland and Ireland existed side by side with the indigenous pagan beliefs for hundreds of years. Even good Catholic women like my Grandmother, born In Ireland in 1900 always had a saying or advice that harked backed to a far older time. She once gave me a written prayer to be said at a dumb supper at Samhain (Halloween) which invited the recent dead to a meal, with a place set for them in a ritual of sorts that enacted their place with the ancestors and the need to move onto the otherworld. We are the wise women of today, those who carry the old stories, sing the old songs sit in circle as we sing and dance between the worlds and share stories with each other that nourish the soul and fortitude the heart – for we so need each other in these dark times and to know we are not alone.

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Working with Poppet dolls

Poppet dolls can be incorporated into simple rituals and ceremonies for healing, intention or gratitudes. How you work with them is up to you. Little vials can hold whatever is needed to be held, scrolls of paper rolled up and tied onto them. Talismans pinned and secret symbols stitched onto the fabric.

With our use they become alive in a sense imbued with our deep intentions fulfilling their use as tools aiding us as spiritual helpers.

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Click on the doll photos to go to my ETSY store and use code freeshippoppet at checkout for free shipping.

 


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Click on the book image above to read my essay Radical Doll Making From Willendorf to Today: The Relevance of an Ancient Tradition.

A Happy Hogmanay!

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‘Lang may yer lum reek’ (May you always have fuel for your chimney/hearth – good health to you this year)

No one can beat the Scottish for a good New Year’s party! Even if you don’t go out, you either have a few friends round or turn on the TV and there’s aye Jools Holland and his Hootenany to fill up your house!

It would be impossible to unravel all the roots  find a single source for Hogmanany since there are many,  some digging down deep than others – which gives us all the more to choose from.

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There are many theories about the derivation of the word “Hogmanay”. The Scandinavian word for the feast preceding Yule was “Hoggo-nott” while the Flemish words (many have come into Scots) “hoog min dag” means “great love day”. Hogmanay could also be traced back to the Anglo-Saxon, Haleg monath, Holy Month, or the Gaelic, oge maidne, new morning. But the most likely source seems to be the French. “Homme est né” or “Man is born” while in France the last day of the year when gifts were exchanged was “aguillaneuf” while in Normandy presents given at that time were “hoguignetes”. Take your pick!’  (Taken from rampartscotland.com).

 

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Up Helly A

Many root deep down to a time way before calendars gave us months and an old year dying at the end of December. Parts of Scotland were under Norse rule (roughly 8th – 15th centuries) and while you might think that many names of mountains and place names on maps are gaelic, but in fact they’re in Norse. We have records that in Scotland the vikings sailed down the river Leven (from Loch Lomond) on route to Alt Clut (Dumbarton Castle), the medieval capital of the ancient capital of Strathclyde. The Vikings brought us Yules, which if you lived even further north you might celebrate Yule with a little more fire and celebration! I have lots of Scottish friends who have Viking blood, blue eyes and blonde hair. There’s often claims at this time of year that the great Viking fire festival of this time of year, Up Helly Aa in Shetland refuted to being nothing but a Victorian invention, and sure the first Up Helly Aa took place in Lerwick in 1881, but before that there were other fire festivals such as tar barrelling, rolling barrels of tar set on fire, flaming wildly down the streets. But the Vikings were in Shetland since the first century and I bet those Vikings partied at the symbolic return of the sun.

Some might say Up Helly Ah, now a Hogmanay celebration in Edinburgh is just pure fantasy and all for show but really i feel that modern embellishment of traditions underpins a needs rooted in the now for growth and transformation. We need all the grounded inspiration we can muster!

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Fire, it’s all about fire! 

With the protestant reformation the Kirk considered christmas a Catholic festival and so it was banned! There was no christmas holiday and so you’d celebrate all the more come New Year.

Fire. Way down at those roots it’s all about fire. Wither it’s welding giant fireballs in Stonehaven it’s all symbolism of the growing energy of the just born sun. Purifying your community from evil spirits. Like new year resolutions or toasts such as Auld lang syne we’re leaving all behind us in the old year we don’t want following us into the new. The light and the fire hold the hope and promise that the new year will bring. Intentions are powerful things.

First Footing


In Scotland there’s the tradition of ‘first footing’ where traditionally you’d welcome a tall dark haired male into your home – he being the first guest over the threshold on this new year, it was said that blonde haired men weren’t welcomed the same, harking back to VIking raiders who weren’t warmly welcomed. This first footer would bring a gift such as coal, symbolically signifying a wish that your home always be warm and welcoming. A black bun (fruitcake) or shortbread symbolises an offering wishing that you never go hungry, a coin symbolises prosperity and whisky, well whisky is never refused! And the greenery the first footer would bring would represent a far older tradition with the Holly king and the giant Gogmagog. The wildman element stretches back to primeval wildness, and that’s a whole other tale.

Rowan branches placed above door brought good luck, burning Juniper throughout the house helped purifify the space allowing the new year to enter. Read more about this here by  Erynn Rowan Laurie.

So while Samhain is the new year of my soul, a time to dream as we enter into the darkness, this new year is the practical one – the one for the head before the hands get busy in new and inspiring work.

So happy new year – however you celebrate! May all manner of insights and magic unfold for you!

 

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Deer Priestess

 

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Click on image above to view in online shop

The great crone the Cailleach has long since washed her plaid in her cauldron, the whirlpool of Corryvrecken. This ancient Samhain ritual marks our descent into the dark of the year. We enter into our caves – gathering firewood and books, songs and friends while the outside world tempts us with shiny things. We need the dark and follow the guide of the plants and trees by returning our energies to our roots for this inner time. A time to work with those things we’d rather ignore for a few more decades – so this time in the dark is our invitation to begin the work that needs to be done. To sink our energies down to the roots, to the bones of our ancestors and travel between the worlds to ask their advice and share that advice with others as we sit in circle around the fire.  or we come from an antlered culture, we are the daughters of the priestesses of the old antlered one. It’s on this cold nights with stars shining bright like maps above us in the dark inky sky that we hear the song of those foremothers racing in our blood and know it’s knitted into our very bones. We bone sisters share those stories and songs in circle and weave balance back into the world – for we come rom a culture that remembers a very different way of life, one we keep in mind that drives our work that we do in this world to restore balance.

I’m launching some ‘made to order’ antlered priestess items in my shop. These take around 3 weeks to make – they’re not christmas presents but sacred gifts to inspire us daughters of the great antlered one in a world that suddenly seems to be gripped by an unhealthy darkness!call-1-edit

She Who Calls the Deer (Needle felted doll)

She Who Calls the Deer is calling to our primal selves, the wild woman our culture tries to make us forget, suppress. She is the wise woman and female shaman and she mirrors the wise woman and shaman in you. You are after all a living breathing integral part of nature. She is a celebration of that and of all the mystery in it’s cawing, wriggling, soaring, swimming, dancing gloryelen-collageClick on image above to view in online shop

Elen of the Ways

Elen of the Ways is an ancient British shamanic folklore figure. Elen wears antlers, which female deer do not have although female Reindeer do which links her back to the early people who followed the reindeer herds from Europe over to the UK before the great ice sheets melted and created the North Sea and resulted in Britain becoming an island.

Elen is the ancient Deer Goddess, an archetype of the land. The deer followed the ‘plods’ their tracks which ran along leylines. Elen offers insight into other worlds, to see between the worlds.

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Click on image above to view in online shop

The Old Dark One

The Old Dark One has been around since the beginning of time, if not before. She resides in folklore and myth, living with one foot in the shadows of this world and the underworld of the otherworld. The threads weaving in and out of her antlers represent the threads that link us to everything else in this world – a reminder of the power of where we put out focus.
Doll making is an ancient tradition. Pulling the energy of the female divine from the otherworld into this world through the form of a doll. She can be a powerful focus, a spiritual reminder for an altar or significant place in your home.

 

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Click on image above to view in online shop

The Deer Priestesses

She stands in the forest under a full moon with her staff and all the energies of the forest – including fly agaric, which were sacred to the Celts. She honors the Deer Goddess, the great antlered one, the creatrix. Her lineage runs through all the deer that feature in many cultures from pre-Celtic, to Sami to the Scythians. She is a protector of sacred space, guardian to you on your journey. This wall hanging may serve as a reminder of what she offers – hang her somewhere you can connect to her daily, or by an altar.

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Click on image above to view in online shop

Deer Priestesses – Oval wall hanging

The Deer priestess is a protector of sacred space, standing with her staff under a full moon. She is the guardian to you on your journey. This wall hanging may serve as a reminder of what she offers – hang her somewhere you can connect to her daily, or by an altar. With her antlered pendant she invokes the deer Goddess, one of the earliest deities.
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picmonkey-collageClick on image above to view in online shop

Calling all Amazons against the Kurgen President!

final-imageThe hardest thing I did yesterday was to get out of bed. I could feel my shock in the election result in my body. It weighed me down, I couldn’t move fast. When I got out to the garden  was surprised that the world seemed the same – the tree’s were in the same places and the sky hadn’t cracked open.  I moved very slowly yesterday, glad for the little things – washing dishes and cleaning the kitchen, doing laundry and sweeping the porch, little things brought me back to life.

While on awaking I had the fragment of a dream ‘we are born for these times’ rang in my head to which I loudly replied no, I’m small, I’m tired and I’m overwhelmed. By lunchtime I really was tired and ready to back to bed.

I slowly stirred from my shock gratingly annoyed at messages of we must meet everything with love and reassurances that somehow this is part of the big plan that things will get worse before they get better.

Today was easier to get out of bed, I don’t feel so numb and my shock is lifting into a well placed anger. As I made coffee I noticed lots of threads of spider silk coming off the big dead tree in the garden on onto the mountain laurel bush (who is flowering), other strands are roped out onto the fence post, onto the grass and I enjoyed the notion the we are all connected. It’s the great wheel of life that our foremothers honored, the great web of time, space and everything in-between.

The election news was like an alarm bell going off, as if warning us of another Kurgen attack. Those initial attacks started 6,000 years ago, we live in a Kurgen society and now have a Kurgen as president! Today my shock has turned to a well tuned anger and I have to admit I’m a little prickled to those saying we must turn to it all with love or that it has to get worse before it gets better – erm, 6,000 years of patriarchy is pretty freaking bad! The centuries and centuries of genocides on women, the witch burnings – exactly how much more can we take?

I’m not going to tell you words above loving stronger, or that there is a light at the end of the tunnel as right now I can’t see it. What I do know is that it is the dark of the year. I come from a circle culture and our temples that were burnt to the ground, all the women burnt as witches, all the women who have gone through the unspeakable we all come together in HER temples when we sit in circle. And behind our circle is another circle – one made up of the grandmothers, the old ones, our foremothers. We have the web, we have the tools of shamanic journeying, of dancing between the worlds and asking those ancient ones for their wisdom. We have circle, we have the wheel. And right now we have darkness – darkness where all our energies are rooted in the dark place, a dark lace that birthed the universe, it’s births our creativity, it births our reality if we let it and not come from a pace of yesterdays emotions.

Our culture has endured thousands of years of persecution, thousands of years of misogyny, oppression, massacre, abuse, injustice, torture, murder, rape……

And while we may feel small alone we are of a circle culture, and when we come together her temples are rebuilt, we travel between worlds and return with visions and guidance, we inspire each other with our stories and root it into our lives through creativity and then weave it into our lives in the fight that seems ever present.

Those thousands of years have turned us into amazons, warriors and we each fight this battle in our own way. I am resonate to keep doing what I do and come together in circle around the wheel and nourish our roots with our great culture of femaleness, of togetherness, of ancestor, of healing and in fighting!

While I had to write these words (even for myself) I had to question adding on events i’m offering, but that’s what I do in the world – we each healing and together we raise our amazon swords!

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Click on the image above for full details & booking

On saturday 26th November you might wish to join our circle as we work with the great crone, the Cailleach. We will hear her stories, travel between the worlds with our own personal intentions. We will make Cailleach dolls – dolls being powerful tools and we will share our stories and strengthen our roots.

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And in May 2017 we will gather in circle on the lands of the Ancestral Mothers of Scotland. We will do deep shamanic work with ritual and ceremony, visit her sites work with our fears and anger, our inspiration and commit to the work we do in this worlds.

Through the Eye of the Cailleach – Workshop

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*3 places left * (as of 11/7)

By the end of November the pumpkins have started to rot, the costumes discarded and the decorations back in their box. The majority of ancestral souls have returned to where they dwell. The world is quiet, dark and it is time to answer the souls calling and journey into the cave. As nature draws her energy down to the roots it is natural for us too to turn inwards as it is here in the dark that we can best tend to our soul life.

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The Cailleach is sometimes described as having a great third eye in the middle of her forehead. Through this eye she can see through all time and space with a primal intuition. She see’s all that causes havoc in our world. We will draw on her wisdom and activate our own third eyes so we can see afresh into our own lives and see the cause and effects that we might otherwise be blind to.

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Forest offering to the Cailleach

In this workshop we will share stories of the Cailleach (provided) and discuss our feelings around them. We will also watch a short film about the great hag and get a sense of her great age. We will have a guided meditation which takes us to the priestesses of the Cailleach, the ones who know the ways of this divine crone.

We will then take those inspirations and weave them into our dolls. Our dolls will be made through a needle felting process, suitable for complete beginners. We will decorate our dolls with Scottish tweed as well as pockets and little jars which can be used in ritual and with intention – we will also discuss working with dolls.

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