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

 

 

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Willendorf!

 

 

Willendorf has been in the news this week with Facebook banning her image calling it ‘pornographic’, while that decision was reversed our reaction to these ancient female figurines (Venus’s) says volumes to our values. The Woman of Hole Fels – 40,000 BCE

In 2009 when the Woman of Hole Fels was discovered she was met with these headlines:

 

Even the Naturhistorisches Museum in Vienna where she is on display has a description which read ‘Early Mother or Pin-Up Girl’

When I hold replica’s of them in my hands I consider the intention, the hours of work that went into their creation, I wonder what intention the maker held and I wonder about the relationship these people had with the world around them. While we will never know for sure the intentions and the reasons for these figurines we do know that some interpretations are life-sustaining while others are life-threatening. There is a danger in interpreting these figurines in a purely sexual context as it results in unintended social consequences such as giving the message that objectification of women is acceptable. It is also ridiculous to try and interpret their meaning while you’re analysis is rooted in today’s mindset.

Click on the image to view the Woman of Willendorf prayer beads in the shop

Gatherers and Hunters

To me, they form part of my own tradition in doll making. I interpret those ancients hands created these figurines in honor of their god – who was female. Ursula Le Guin in discussing Elizabeth Fisher’s work explains that some of the earliest cultural inventions came from women’s inspiration, this gather’s story birthed containers in a sling style, counting sticks used to measure the phases of the moon and the red ochre of handprints in dark cave recesses were predominantly made by women.

The hunter’s story,  the one our patriarchal culture glorifies,  lies in the hunter hero retelling the story of blood and guts, killing and slaying. When interpreting the practices of both into a modern context the gather’s story is one in which we care for each other, consider everyone’s needs and ensure all are provided for while the hunter’s story extends itself to the raping and killing story which is the dominating narrative in our culture today.

Click on the image to view the Woman of Willendorf prayer beads in the shop

The Facebook censorship of the Woman of Willendorf (although that decision has now been overturned) invites us into this greater story we choose, do you wish to live by the gatherers or the hunter’s story? Willendorf stands powerful (at just 11.1 cm 4.4 inches) to remind us things weren’t always this way. God was female for THOUSANDS of years and cultures were rooted in those life-sustaining values. She stands to remind us that..

 

This is an excerpt from my essay ‘Radical Doll Making From Willendorf to Today’ – you can read the essay by clicking here 

 

 

 

 

An Ancient Mothers Circle

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Magic of the Old Dark One

We gathered together in circle sharing stories of the ancient guardians of land that we love. Of places we call home, of places our souls have a longing for that are far away which we have an affinity with.  We lit candles for people that couldn’t be with us and candles for the girls around the world facing abuse at such young ages.

As the great wheel cycles around to Beltane we celebrated desire – a desire for those things our heart and soul yearns for, and with ears open wide we listened to our inner girl child.

This is the first circle (of many I hope) where I told the stories of the Ancient Mothers. Our guided meditation took us to the dark peaty waters of Loch Lomond. In the east we honored the Cailleach, the great creatrix. In the South where the Loch waters flow into the river Leven and then into the Clyde we honored Brighid in her bear form and all those ancient animals that only wander the land in spirit.

To the west we experienced water and the Goddess Clutha, she who takes many forms from ice of the great ice ages to mountain streams and mist and rain.

To the north we saw the great mountain of Ben Lomond with her roots stretching deep into the earth. Of the caves and burrows and the bones of our ancestors. Here in the north is the realm of the great antlered one, the old one she who wears a skeleton head of bygone reindeer.

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The sound of the drum was the horse that we traveled on as we journeyed between the worlds each woman off on her own adventure.

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We wove our stories into simple dolls made from sticks tied with yarn and wrapped in fabric. The dolls becoming a reflection of self that over time deepens the stories and our connection.

And we raised over $100 for Equality Now in the fight to end FGM and forced marriages.

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Working with Our Ancestors

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The Guardian Ancestors Telesummit
 is a FREE multi-speaker event that will show 
you how to connect with your Guardian Ancestors 
to enrich your life and express your soul purpose.

There are 20 wonderful teachers coming together March 25 
though April 7 for two one-hour calls every weekday. 
There’s no cost to attend, and even if you can’t attend the 
talks live, you’ll get access to each replay for 48 hours.

Each call will be like a mini-class, 
complete with guided meditations. You’ll be able to listen to live calls online, 
by phone, or via skype, and free 48-hour replays
will allow you to listen at your convenience.

There is also lots of great bonuses if you sign up or the upgrade package – which will include a booklet on how to work with dolls

Are you interested in learning more about working with ancestors?

In my talk I’ll be discussing working with creativity and doll making, how we co-create with spirit.
I’ll share stories how I found my path by way of the drum and trance and what personally I find as the most effective ways of connecting to the old ones. 
As well as the blood and bone ancestors i’ll be discussing our role as living, or future ancestors. 

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Click here to register for this free event