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:
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.
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