The Bean Feasa’s Prescription

The you and I we know are made up of many different parts. I have a theory that when we take a big journey our parts travel at different speeds. This would explain how out of alignment travel makes us, the ‘lag’ of jetlag being that we are incomplete until all those parts are back inside our body.

I have noticed through the years that I have parts which regularly travel independent of the rest of me. There are parts which travel to gather around campfire on distant island shore off the west coast of Scotland somewhere around 6,000 BCE. I have parts which run with great herds of reindeer and come back grateful to have been given that space to run. All these parts don’t behave to what we might call ‘normal’ time or reality, so it makes sense that things get a little scrambled when we’re awake for 32 hours and have traveled by car and bus, train, plane and boat.

It’s only after five days having left the mountains of Asheville that all my parts have reassembled back home on Scottish soil. Those in-between five days aren’t much fun. I’m unsettled, my ‘self’ doesn’t work properly, I can’t concentrate. The tell tale sign is boredom for am I someone who is very rarely bored. The mixed up sleeping pattern is the smallest part of jetlag, I can deal with that. In an episode of Star Trek TNG  the character of Deanna Troi a half Betazoid whose psychic abilities allow her  access to the ‘psionic field’, (the medium through all unspoken thoughts and feelings are communicated) . While human eyes can sense portions of the electromagnetic field telepaths can sense portions of the psionic field. In one episode she looses these abilities and this is exactly how I feel with jetlag – without all of my parts I can’t hear stories from the land – there is no inspiration flowing, no sense of ancient lives and the remnants of their thoughts and feelings. Everything is blank, there is no interaction. I’m suddenly deaf or blind and cut off from the flow of all that matters.

To run with with herd

 

I decided to go visit the Bean Feasa (the wise woman) and the old hag prescribed watching the crows and imagine life through their eyes. She advised I watched the rain clouds gather and count the falling raindrops. She advised me to visit old friends and so I went to greet the great oak and the walked down a country lane to visit my favourite hedgerow.

Mostly she recommended twilight and so I listened to the nightly song of the blackbirds.  The old hag recommends twilight a lot for much magic happens in this magical half light – and before I knew it all my parts had settled home.

 

 

 

 

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Into the Wildwood

Beltane is a great Celtic festival although it’s highly likely that it has its roots drawn down to a far longer distant past. My imagination has always been stirred by far earlier peoples.

At Beltane, the life-giving forces of the land are honored as it manifests within the land and people, yet that energy can take many forms throughout our lives. Here in the foothills of the Appalachians, the land is experiencing the great greening and I take a hammock and go head into the trees to listen to the song of the forest.


The wheel of the year is a lived experience drawing in folklore and ancestral memories which helps to make sense of the world. The wheel is an ancestral soul path, a pilgrimage around the year through the great festivals and yet the meaning of those holy days has morphed and changed through time.

At Beltane I put on a mask, inspired by the mask of Star Carr, a culture which existed at the end of the ice age and could hold a pattern of belief handed down by those who visited Britain in the summer months with the greening of the tundra as they followed great herds of reindeer and wild horses across the land.

Our modern society has herded us, sedates us and tries through a vast array of distraction and addictions to keep us from hearing the call of the wild. If we were to heed that call of the wild we’d find the old stories and ancient ways to know life wasn’t always like this. Patriarchy didn’t always exist. My Beltane takes me to wild places, islands off the West Coast of Scotland – wild places where I can re-wild my imagination, re-envisage this modern life and take ancient inspiration and weave it into my life in ways which resist the psychological smog patriarchy would prefer we lived in.

Red Deer Skull Headdress from Star Carr, Yorkshire, UK

Creative Resistance

Beltane can invite us to take off our socially acceptable mask, to listen to the plants under our feet, the calls of the birds and animals and step into relationship with the world. To watch the land painted in a wash of twilight which brings out the magic and mystery. To wear the mask of our wild self, to step between the worlds and see through the eyes of the Bean Feasa, the wise woman and offer gestures of ritual to that relationship. To weave

This is my Beltane to step into my wild self, re-imagine myself, celebrate my relationship with the world. To dance what is my heart’s desire, the worlds’ desire for if we don’t dream these dreams we can’t take the steps that are required to get there. This world needs our imagination more than ever!

What is your gesture of ritual this Beltane?

I will be launching ‘Sisterhood of the Antlers’ a creative journey around the Wheel later this year – click on the logo above to be added to the mailing list to get some travel updates as we head to Scotland and be first to hear when the new course launches

Justicia Para Olivia! 

Olivia Arévalo Lomas

Environmental activist Olivia Arévalo Lomas of the Shipibo Konibo Indigenous people of Peru has been assassinated. Two other female Shipibo leaders have received death threats. Olivia Arévalo Lomas was an Ikaro (singer) who was a wise woman healer and practitioner of a traditional form of singing medicine. Their songs, known as Onyanya (‘plant songs’), are taught to healers through a specific dietary regime lasting roughly four years. It’s intended to immerse the singer in the healing powers of plants and help them inherit the songs(you can hear her singing in a clip below).

 

She was an activist who stood up for her community and their indigenous lands. All over the Amazon industrialized countries use any means to silence and displace indigenous people – down to murdering their leaders, sadly a pattern happening around the world and ignored by mainstream media.

“Communities that take a stand against environmental destruction are now in the firing line of companies’ private security guards, state forces and contract killers. For every land and environmental defender who is killed, many more are threatened with death, eviction and destruction of their resources. “These are not isolated incidents. They are symptomatic of a systematic assault on remote and indigenous communities by state and corporate actors.” Billy Kyte, Global Witness 

FECONAU  – the Federation for Ucayali and Afluentes Native Communities (one of the oldest indigenous federations of the Peruvian Amazon) and COSHICOX call for national and international solidarity in calling on the Peruvian state to bring those responsible to justice, and to provide guarantees for the safety of two other Indigenous leaders of the Shipibo Konibo people who today face death threats and harassment.

Olivia Arévalo Lomas was an activist protecting her way of life, protecting her indigenous lands. She was a wise woman, a female healer – the very embodiment of the vision, teaching, and activism the world needs. As someone whose roots are in the Celtic/pre-Celtic Bean Feasa (wise woman) tradition, Olivia Arévalo Lomas is an inspiration for women standing up for indigenous rights and our role in the Western world to support indigenous women, to listen to their voices and help their struggle in any way we can.

 

Olivia Arévalo Lomas sings a traditional healing song

Becoming Crone

Some digital art on a new piece ‘Becoming Crone’ – click on the image to view in the shop

 

Folks – if you didn’t see our last newsletter  – we will be pretty quiet over the summer when we head off home to Scotland for the Ancestral Mothers o Scotland Retreat in the Isle of Eigg. We will be relaunching in August with a new name (Ancestral Soul Craft) and a new website.

This weekend (Friday 20th, Saturday 21st, and Sunday 22nd April) we will be holding a 10% of everything in the shop. There are some new items listed – I found one more hag stone (which you can see the stone’s crystals in the hole of the stone), a new Cailleach doll, some new fabric/wool art and some new prayer bead sets.

Click here to sign up to our newsletter especially for ‘Scottish Travel Journal’ to join us virtually on our adventures in Scotland – from the Isle of Eigg, the Loch Lomond area (where I’m from) and hopefully a visit to the Cairngorm Reindeer herd!

 

The Inspiration and Creativity of Spring Equinox

She Who Holds the Wheel – Needle felted doll by Jude Lally

I have been following the Wheel of the Year for almost 30 years. Within those years I have viewed the wheel very differently which reflects many of the changes I myself have gone through. While I grew up with the Celtic wheel the inspiration of my wheel is the four Celtic festivals and the four pre-Celtic festivals. I  weave in the inspiration of my relationship to the Ancestral Mothers of Scotland, the foremothers of my own lineage – the mtDNA Xenia Clan, a descendent from Mitochondrial Eve (Sykes 2001) and the lineage of both sides of my family are from Western Ireland and the lineage of the megalithic builders, descendants of the hunter-gatherers of Europe.

I think of the wheel as a great path, one which holds the stories, myths and a deep inspiration of the season. As a doll maker, these creations hold that vision and inspiration for they are vessels which hold the ancestral connection, the story of my foremothers.

The Cailleach – Needle felted doll by Jude Lally

I have probably changed my favorite point on the wheel as many times as I have traveled around the wheel. When I was younger I was all about the wild Beltane festival and in the last few years, I enjoy the stillness of Winter Solstice and the Equinoxes which mark our descent and emergence from the dark of the year. At each equinox, the morning sun shines into Carin T at Loughcrew, Ireland – known as the Hill of the Witch or the Cailleach. This cairn is connected to the great Hag – the Cailleach, the great horned kerbstone is said to be her ancient seat. It is she who marks this imaginary still point, a balance point as we begin our descent into the dark. It is if the great hag herself marks the thresholds in and out of the dark of the year through an imaginary balance point a still point which we could view as our own invitation to consider what do we want to walk with for the rest of the year. What did we work with throughout the dark of the year through our rituals and dreams and what have we worked with that we are actually now able to leave behind.

In the dark of the year, we retreat to our caves, the cave of the sleeping she-bear. It is a place that many women come to throughout the dark as they dream with the great bear and come to be with the wise woman – those most ancient foremothers of the bear.

The Green of the World and the Bear

I begin the descent into the dark with a ritual in which I line a great black clay cauldron and put in a small green doll. She represents the green vitality of the world which returns back to its roots over the dark months. Alongside the green doll, I place a bear, who at this time is preparing to enter into hibernation. While the bear only walks the land in spirit in Scotland this gesture is to honor all the women who honored her. She holds a most ancient spark of the Goddess Brighid – and so my bear is marked with gold, fiery swirls. If you had come across a sleeping bear hibernating she might have appeared dead for her breathing and heart rate was slowed to almost undiscernable levels. To ancient peoples, it would have been an act of deep magic that not only did she come back to live in the spring, but she often would have cubs with her. As she emerged with new life it may have seemed that her emergence brought new life back to the land (Lally 2013).

 

Grandmother Dolls – A place to hold the intentions of working with the energies of Spring Equinox

Emerging From the Cave

Now at Spring Equinox, it is time to take out the great cauldron. In a gesture of ritual, I look over the writings and drawings and the art made in the dark of the year this way I see what it is I can finally leave behind and what ideas were planted deep in the darkness and are stirring towards the light. I take out the bear and the little green doll – which represents the green vitality returning to the land as me myself emerges from the dark and returns to the outward life.

Grandmother Dolls – A place to hold the intentions of working with the energies of Spring Equinox

A Reminder of the Dark

Through the business of the warmer months, the heat and the so-much-to-do days I like to have a symbol of my time in the cave and a reminder that I can return there any time to visit the ancient Grandmothers and ask for their insight and wisdom – so at Spring Equinox I make a Grandmother doll. This doll is my reminder of my connection to my foremothers and they hold all manner of charms and talismans and little glass jars with small scrolls of paper on which I’ve written things that are only between myself and the Grandmothers. They adorn a wall or sometimes hang outside under a full or dark moon.

Big News!

Celtic Soul Crat is about to undergo a big transformation. We are changing our name, our website and relaunching this fall. We will be offering a year-long Wheel of the Year online course which is woven with the folklore, stories, inspiration and creativity of the Ancestral Mothers of Scotland – and all the dolls, stories and insights mentioned in this article. 

Click on the logo to join our mailing list to keep up to date with our changes. While we’ll be pretty quiet over the summer we will be posting a series of Travel Stories from our time home in Scotland with the Ancestral Mothers of Scotland annual retreat on the Isle of Eigg.

 

References

Sykes, Bryan. 2001. The Seven Daughters of Eve. The Science that Reveals our Genetic Ancestry. W.W. Norton & Company, USA.

Lally, Jude. 2013. The Great Bear Mother: A Journey with Brighid to the Ancient Dawn of Imbolc. Contained in: Monaghan, P and McDermott, M, (Eds), Brighid: Sun of Womanhood. Goddess Ink, USA. Pgs 10-16. You can read this essay here