New Dolls – Keening and Antlered Women!

The Keening Woman – click to view in online shop

These are the last dolls of the season before we shut the shop next week and get ready to pack our bags and head to Scotland for the Ancestral Mothers of Scotland Retreat! 

The Keening Woman

The keening woman was employed in Ireland and Scotland to grieve over the body as part of a death rite. Her role was to lead the communities grief for the person they were grieving and also to show the way home to the otherworld for the person that had died. Keening was always a woman’s role and goes back to an earlier pagan tradition and a shamanic role. Traditional keening (in the presence of a dead body) has long dies out yet has begun to flourish in an age where grief is taboo and is used in modern ceremonies for an entire host of reasons in which we see fit to release our grief not just for those who have died but for the state of the world. Click on the image above to view in the online shop.

 

She Who Whispers to the Deer – click on image to view in the online shop

She Who Whispers to the Deer

She comes from a time of ice, a time when great herds of reindeer crossed from mainland Europe across land to Britain. She is that energy of the reindeer running the ancient migratory paths. It was she who ran with the very first herd, guiding the leading female. She is protector of the reindeer and the long line of priestesses who followed. Click on the image above to view in the online shop.

 

Elen of the Ways – Click on the image to view in the 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 their pathways made over generations of migrations, often running along leylines. Elen offers insight into other worlds, to see between the worlds and to be that communicator between the realms. Click on the image to view in the online shop.

Antlered Prayer Beads

Prayer bead with Rhodonite – click image to view in shop

As my fingers move around the sacred circle of the beads I feel my mind quietening. I come to a still place which often feels a little between the worlds. The antler connects me to ancient herds migrating through the landscape as if they themselves are moving through space and time. This reminds me of our migration around the wheel of the year – honoring the growing life through the phases of a women’s life – from girl child to maiden, amazon to mid life woman, from crone to ancestor.

 

‘My beads have become constant companions as I go through the day‘,

A. Harrison

 

Prayer Beads with Golden Black Obsidian – click on image to view in shop

‘Powerful and beautiful soul practice tools. Working these beads through my hands I can feel the strength, love and intention in their creation and I’m so grateful that they have come to me. Thank you for your incredible work in the world and on this rosary’.

L Blinn

Prayer beads with Amazoite beads – Click on image to view in shop

I received the prayer beads today, and the are beautiful – thank you again for crafting something so powerful and full of medicine and magic.

Jane V.

Prayer beads with Spider Web Jasper – click image to view in shop

Click below to join the Sisterhood of the Antlers Facebook group and be in the drawing to win a set of prayer beads.

The Day of the Cailleach

Today is the Cailleach’s Day. In the old calendar this was the first day of the new year.

For those of us that follow the old ways and the wheel of the year we can see two sides of the crone in these last few weeks. The hag still whips up some spring snow showers and a frost you weren’t expecting that stomped the life of those little seedlings you were a little too eager to plant in the soil. By the next morning she is a far younger self and she cradles the colorful blooms and lifts the temperatures to the tune of the land is singing the song of spring.

This is the way it has been for thousands and thousands of years, it is only us that change the story and the meaning. We have told stories of an evil hag holding the maiden prisoner – those stories say more about our opinions of women and especially old women. I do not tell the stories of hags taking maidens prisoners, there is no evil and bitter old hag jealous of the young years youth and vitality.

For those of us who follow the wheel this time of the year is the great return – we have moved from the dark of the year and our inward focus to emerging back to the outside world and all its demands and tending. The hibernating bear and Persephone are both symbols of the return of life to the land. Persephone returning to her mother after her time in the dark with Hecate – the story of capture and rape have no place in my cosmology.

Water

There are stories of the great Hag which tell us at this time of year she is called down to the shore. She needs to do this before any part of this world has awakened – before the song of the first bird and the hum of any insect. She makes her way down to the shore as she has done for countless cycles in order to renew herself submerged under the water. Water, since neolithic times has been imbued with life giving properties, similar to amniotic fluid it is the place where regeneration occurs (Gimbutus 2001). Water is the primordial source and so this otherworldly figure must return there in order to renew herself – a story we can see in tales such as her renewal in the Scottish Loch Ba. Submerged below the waves she is between the worlds, she belongs to the most ancient cosmologies and a mark of time more in tune with galaxies than our mark of days and hours. What happens below the waves is what happens to the land itself, it renews. It is part of the most ancient cycle o birth and lie, of death and renewal – the fuel of the wheel of the year.

The Eternal Dance

In some stories the Cailleach returns to the otherworld where there she renews herself at the fountain o youth and that younger self is Brighid. Who came first the hag or the maiden – we can’t have one with out the other. Myths are not something we can sift and sort for the are woven with mystery, they are part this world and part otherworld. Our age has tried to kill the old hag, many see her as being no longer relevant – which says far more about our society’s obsession with youth than it does of the old ways. This story of the crone falling down in a heap of bones is wonderfully told in the little film An Cailleach Bhearra, a tale of the demise of the female in a male world.

We have a host of stories to choose from with which to weave our own meaning – there is no right or wrong yet what storie we choose to live with says of how we each walk in this world.

 

The Online Cailleach Course

This online course offers five sessions – it begins by exploring the great age o the Cailleach and then we take a virtual pilgrimage to visit some of her sites in ireland before moving over to Scotland and visiting some of her sacred sites there. next we explore her changing stories which has morphed and changed over the generations before diving down into her folklore and seeing where that takes us. FInally we weave this journey all together and examine the role of this great crone for us today. There is also the invitation to create a small altar on this journey of exploration and a Facebook group for the course where you can share your insights and thoughts.

 

Resources: 

Gimbutas, Marija. 2001. The Living Goddess. University of California Press, USA.

 

 

My Clan Mother

It felt an empowering action that while I was en route to the Women’s march back in January I stopped off at the Post Office and mailed my mDNA sample. And as I walked the hour and a half to the rally I couldn’t help but think of all the generations of women on whose shoulders I now stand, of the countless generations and millions of women of my lineage – their stories, their experiences and what of their voices is knitted into my very bones.


Two months later and the results are here – all the way from the Oxford Ancestors lab in the UK. I am descended from Xenia who lived 25,000 years ago on the southern margins of the Great Plains, which stretches from the low lying British Isles in the west to Kazakhstan in the east. The plains were bare of trees save for a few patches of birch and willow scrub. This was a bleak and windy place with vicious blasts from the expanded polar ice caps sending winter temperatures down to -20oc (-4of) for days or even weeks at a time.

Mammoth bones & hides were the only materials for shelter

Xenia’s lineage is an interesting one and DNA records that as the ice ages got more severe they split up with some generations heading west and others east throughout Asia and eventually over the land bridge into the America’s. Her people would have followed the great reindeer herds as well as the woolly mammoth and horse herds. I have often had dreams of the great icy tundra and of following reindeer which in part might be due to a diet of documentaries from the FIlm Board of Canada when I was young or you could call it an artistic streak that listens to my ancestors stories which are knitted into my very bones! 

Tundra

This insight will continue to resonate and inspire for knowing our matriarchal lineage certainly evokes empowering ancestral memories and inspirations which vibrate those luminous thread from us to them that connect us through space and time. We can still move between these worlds and ask them for their wisdom and insight and then weave that into our lives.

Working on mini drums for a new series of clan mother dolls – the drums set against a map o the Loch and Ben Lomond.

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Click above to join the women only space the ‘Sisterhood of the Antlers’ and join the conversion – you’ll also be in the draw to win a set of antler prayer beads.

Links: 

An interesting family history which stretches back to Xenia

The Origins and Expansions of Ancient Boat-Oriented Way of life. The Post-Glacial Development and Expansion of Boat-peoples

Oxford Ancestors Lab

The People Who Follow the Reindeer

I find something so soothing about moving my fingers silently around the sacred circle of prayer beads. It gives my hands something to do and makes it easier for thoughts to to simply fall like leaves rather than constantly having to engage with them. I decided to make my own prayer beads as rosary or mala beads belong to a completely different faith.

Antler Prayer Beads with rhodonite – Click image to view in the online shop

These beads speak to my linage of the people who followed the reindeer herds across the frozen tundra of mainland europe thousands of years ago. A nomadic people building seasonal shelters from mammoth bones and skins.

Antler Prayer Beads with amazonite –  Click image to view in the online shop

While we live in a far different age I have the songs and stories of those people knitted into my bones.

Antler Prayer Beads with spider jasper –  Click image to view in the online shop

Be in the draw to win a set of prayer beads by clicking above and joining our ‘Sisterhood of the Antlers Facebook group

Sisterhood of the Antlers – Win a set of antler prayer beads

Sisterhood of the Antlers is a gathering place for women – sometimes in person, sometimes nomadic and sometimes virtual where we learn, share and inspire through online courses, workshops and journeys to the lands of the Ancestral Mothers of Scotland. Most of all we remember that although we were born into a patriarchal warring culture things weren’t always this way!

Sisterhood

As women come together in circle, as they have for countless generations (why do I know this? for the simple reason that circle keeps us sane!)  we rebuild the ancient temples once dedicated to the great Goddess. Each women plays her part – some carry the light and so tend to the candles, another woman carries the sacred songs, some are called to roles such as guardian and gatekeeper and some remember the ancient script which they paint on banners. Others create glorious altars, some step into the role of priestess, some are keepers of the drum, others keeper of the rattles, some are called to tell the old stories and together they all create ritual and ceremony and dance between the worlds to ask the old ones, the foremothers and most ancient grandmothers for their insight and wisdom.

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The Women Who Followed the Reindeer

Since I could walk up my local hills I have always been fascinated by some of the first peoples to arrive in this area. After learning about a reindeer antler which was found not too far from those same hills, that belonged to the time of the great ice – my imagination was fired! Britain at that times was connected to mainland Europe by the land bridge of Doggerland which now lies submerged beneath the North Sea. I imagine picking up that antler on the day it was shed from one of the female reindeer of those great migrating herds (of all deer it is only the female reindeer who have antlers). Just as fascinating as witnessing the great herds would have been in seeing the people that followed the reindeer. As the female reindeer led her herd I imagine the people being led by she-who-follows-the-reindeer. Of those women some gathered under dark and full moons in ritual and ceremony, wearing clothes made from reindeer skins and headdresses adorned with antlers as they raised their drums and chanted as they began their dance between the worlds to petition their foremothers and the great antlered one herself.

Antlered Prayer Beads – click to view on Etsy


Weaving Wisdom

We keep many of their traditions such as gathering in circle, picking up our drum as we dance between the worlds to petition those old ones for for insight and wisdom. We do this and share our experiences in circle so we can make sense of them – sometimes we create art from these stories – through doll making and painting, gathering natural materials or clay. We do all this so we can weave that wisdom into our daily lives and let it feed our actions in the world – with each other, our community and the work we do in the world.


Antler Prayer beads with Golden Black Obsidian 

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 Support

This year Sisterhood of the Antlers is supporting Equality Now! helping to support their work to end FGM (Female Genital Mutilation), to end sex trafficking as well as to end the practice of Child Brides. You can learn more about their work by clicking on the image above. Equality Now! are partners with Girls Not Brides in working to end child violence through forced marriages. We are also supporting Kiva through providing micro loans for women around the world.

Win a Set of Antler Prayer Beads

To be in the winning either join our Faceboook group or sign up for the Sisterhood of the Antlers (previously celtic Soul School). These prayer beads are made with spider web jasper, as you use the prayers beads your intention, prayers, gratitudes or worries move out from your fingers and onto the great web web which connects everything. With jasper a great nurturing stone it can bring tranquility in times of stress.

 

 

Your Invitation to a May Monday

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It’s monday. Imagine a monday this may looking out to this view. Picture yourself on a beautiful Scottish Island – one with a rich mythology rooted in legends of ancient powerful women.

 

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Feel the cool crystalline clear waters that have bubbled up from the depths into the Well of the Holy Women as it touches your forehead as you receive a welcome to the island and a personal blessing for your time here

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For your time on this island your role is simply to just be, to listen to the stories of the land and engage with these ancient energies through ritual and ceremony


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and switching off the head grab art materials as you get into that zone that seems outside of everyday time…


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Imagine a day when your only agenda was to walk along pristine sands, maybe a spot of beachcombing and peer at the curious creatures of rockpools

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Watch as twilight paints the land in very different colors. Enjoy a twilight that lasts until 11pm, hours after the sun went down which really feels as if it’s bringing you into a world between worlds.

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Leave this place renewed, rejuvinated, inspired and knowing that wherever you are in the world your roots stretch down and are fed by the bedrock of these Ancient Mothers.

If you’d like to join our Ancient Mothers of Scotland retreat this week is the time to book your place and secure it with a deposit.

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