As the crow flies, I grew up about five miles from Loch Lomond. That meant wet dogs in the summer swimming who swam out way further than they thought tempted by ducks. It meant jumping into the Loch whose waters were cold on hot days while getting increasingly panicked that you could never see the bottom and a lingering feeling that something ancient and primordial was watching from the depths. It meant scaling mountains that took you into a whole other realm, one far, far above the human world. It meant sinking into stories of long ago as you sat on a rock your fingers tracing the forgotten script gouged out by glaciers. It also meant a hand-fasting ceremony on those very shores.
Wither rambling round the hills or on the Loch Shore I was always aware of a presence. As is someone was watching from behind a tree, or peeping out from the thick mists that sometime draw a heavy veil obscuring the sky creating a day that feels your between the worlds. It is a place with many sacred sites, which to look at them might appear very ordinary, but to stand in them opens up a whole other world.
These northern latitudes are gripped tightly in darkness in the winter months and in the summer blessed with dramatic thresholds which weave the day together and then release it ever so slowly back over to night again. Summer is so full of energy that she barely needs to sleep providing days where it is still light at ten pm. It’s in those long shadows of twilight that the magic happens, that our ancestors birthed the stories of the land.
Ancient Mothers of Loch Lomond is a gathering of the old ones of this place. A place to explore the Cailleach, the Deer Goddess, Clutha and Brighid. Within this space I aim to explore the stories and the sacred places, examine how those stories changes over time, what the folklore tells us and ultimately answerer the question of the relevance of these old ones to us today.
It’s said that distance gives us perspective. It took me to leave Scotland and land in the Appalachians for me to begin asking these questions. Little did I know that I had transplanted myself into a land full of deep longing for Celtic roots. Living amongst a people who actively celebrate their Celtic heritage, who not only hear the song of longing in their blood but sing that song in all manner of creative ways.
The Cailleach. The Blue Faced Hag
This work has fed many workshops in Asheville, NC holding space for women to travel between the world to the sound of the drum – a heritage passed down from our ancient foremothers. To do these things together in sacred space and share the insights and experiences of these ancient guardians helps us to recover them and weave them into our lives.
The next phase in this work is a fundraiser, to take place in march 2016 to raise some funds to take me back home. Not just for a whistle stop tour but a sinking in, a deep listening to the land a conversation. For a rambling around hills, visiting sacred places, exploring folklore and scaling mountain tops for overnight vigils.
The beginning sketches of the map
As I begin work on gathering some musicians, finding a location the next step is in creating a map. A soul map of sorts, a weaving of those sacred places.
Want to read more? Click on the links
Sage Woman article pdf (An article on the Cailleach and Deer Goddess). Appeared in Sage Woman Magazine Issue No. 87, 2015)