The Ancestral Soul Path

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Dancing with the Grandmothers. Deep in the Cave

The snow began falling yesterday afternoon here in the foothills of the Appalachians. All throughout the night it fell steadily and soundlessly. I got up before dawn and went outside for my morning ritual of whispering into the threshold that time when it’s not quite night yet not quite day. I feel those deep heart gratitudes and prayers leaving me and travelling out onto the shimmering strands of the great wide web, into the weaving hands of the ancient foremothers.

Deep in the Cave

This winter I have followed the lulling song of the energies of the plants and trees as they took their energy down deep into their roots. I too have burrowed deep into my cave and tended to my roots. Some days I sit by the fire and stare into the flames, other days I paint pictures of the bear grandmothers on the walls and watch them dance and sway when the flickering flames reflect on them. Other days I draw all the insights gathered from dream fragments, of whispers and those that fall with the glittering showers of snow, sometimes I stitch and sew and create wise women who wish to be born. It is is a rich time indeed if you can mange to stay undisturbed and nestled in the thick layers of darkness.
There is a path, an ancient path that walks the strands of the great cosmic web. It is the Ancestral Soul Path, one which thousands of generations of women have walked, danced, sung and woven deep magic into. It’s a path that walks the thresholds as it weaves in and out of this world and into the otherworld.

 

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The Ancient Mothers of Scotland Retreat

This May you are invited to join a tribe of like minded women and travel the Ancestral Soul Path on a spiritual journey to the Ancient Mothers of Scotland. This journey takes you on one of the top 3 spectacular train journeys in the world – the West Highland Way weaves through the beautiful wilderness of Scotland, framed by mountains, a journey where you often spot deer from the train. This journey takes you from the bustling city of Glasgow up to the coast at Mallaig where a short ferry ride takes you over to the Isle of Eigg.

Eigg’s Gaelic name is ‘Eilean nam Ban Mora’, which means Isle of the Big Women and it’s the magical realm of these myths and stories that forms the hearth for our time together. From tales of Amazon warriors and Pictish Queens to the Cailleach and Brighid, from hints of Holy Women, Brighid and the great Deer Goddess whose bones form the bedrock of these small isles.

Ritual & ceremony provide women with the opportunity to explore their personal intentions while engaging in shamanic arts such as doll making, singing and nature art and mapping our journeys fosters an exploration of insights and experiences.

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The Stone Planting Ritual

Employing programs such as Joanna Macy’s ‘Work That Reconnects’ participants have the opportunity to express their joy of living on this planet as well as the grief in what’s happening in this world and then through shamanic journeying ask future beings for their guidance and then commit to the work they already bring, or wish to bring to this world.

As we walk this path the land is our ever present companion in this process as we synchronize to her rhythms and ever changing faces. The central focus of the Ancestral Soul Path is to sit in circle as we gesture, tell stories within personal ritual as each women speaks her story into sacredness. This path is walks on ancient spiritual bedrock and offers a deeply transformative process – that blooms a unique bloom within every woman unique to her and her path in this world.

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There are days set aside for personal reflection – walking on the beaches or with art


 me in a mythcal landscape

Mapping our journeys on the Ancestral Soul Path

Our retreat itinerary covers:

Blessing by the Well of the Holy Women

Storytelling of the Ancient Mothers & the Big Women of Eigg

Honoring our Wild Self

Initiation to your own Ancestral Soul Path at the Loch of the Big Women

Joanna Macy’s program of the Spiral of Reconnection

Shamanic art – Doll Making, art in nature, mapping our journey

Walks to local sacred sites

Visit to a local working Croft and the Crofting Museum

Meet up with local women and an evening joining their singing group

Stone planting ritual

Ritual, ceremony and a Celtic Need Fire

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You can sign up for retreat updates – just click below for full details and for details of our evening talk on the retreat 2/16.

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The Keening Woman Workshop

keening-dollsSunday 2nd October 10.30-5.30 2016

Location Woodfin – 5 mins from downtown Asheville.

When my grandmother died we had a wake. I remember her friends and neighbors gathering – there was much talk and tender words as they approached her body and gently touched her face and hair. I remember the rattle of teacups and the sound of rosary beads. While my Gran was Irish (although lived in Scotland) the wake was probably still common but the art of Keening had long died out.

 

Wise Women In a Time of Crisis

The wise woman in various forms has always been called on in times of crisis. This can be personal crisis, community or global. Women lamenters can be found in cultures throughout the world. It is said that it was the Goddess Brighid who created keening in lamenting the death of her son.

 

In this workshop we will explore the ancient roots of Keening as well as picturing the life of the Keener woman – who was often a figure outside of normal society. We’ll explore how Keening was eventually banned by the church and why. Also the American Wake – the Keening of those immigrants leaving Ireland to go overseas and likely never to return. We’ll also listen to some keening singing to hear the qualities of the singing as well as listening to modern songs which are inspired by keening.

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We will listen to what recordings exist of women Keening – and discuss why there are very few. We’ll see Greenham Common Protest outside of the UK Parliment.

Create a Keening Doll

In the afternoon we will make a Keening woman dolls and a fabric holder – honoring that lineage of women mourners and their important role in society. We will explore how we can tap into this tradition.

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Upcoming workshop – Introduction to Celtic Goddesses 08/02

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A day retreat offering an introduction to five Celtic Goddesses

Sunday 08/02 10.30-5.30. Venue – Central Asheville, to be confirmed.

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Brighid

Morrighan

Boann

Danu

Cailleach

We will explore their unique qualities, their myths and stories, sites associated with them as well as their relation to other deities.

Weaving sacred space

We will begin our day by weaving sacred space, our container for the day, and from the workshop reading pack share what goddess we are initially drawn to. We will consider our intention for the day as we add personal items to the altar.

Journeying between the worlds

Through guided meditation and shamanic journey you will have the opportunity to journey between the worlds with your personal intention – your journey will be lead by live drumming. No shamanic journeying experience is required and an overview will be provided.

We will explore the impressions of our journey through options of journal writing, pastel art and mandala collage – or a mix of all three.

Traveling altar

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Altoid tin traveling altar

In the afternoon we will will create a traveling altar, by decorating an altoid tin. We will add collage pieces to the inside of the tin, and create a small Goddess figurine with felt. We will be setting the scene of your altar allowing room for later pieces which present themselves as your relationship with your goddess grows and deepens.

full details and booking 2

 

New in the shop

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Deer Priestess – Click on image for full description & shop

The Deer priestess honors the ancient antlered one, the creatrix. Her lineage runs through all the deer that feature in many cultures from pre-Celtic, to Sami to the Scythians. Here the priestess is a protector of sacred space, guardian to you on your journey. This wall hanging may serve as a reminder of what she offers – hang her somewhere you can connect to her daily, or by an altar.

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The White Horse of Uffingdon – click on image for full details & store

The White Horse of Uffingdon is etched into the chalky earth on the Berkshire Downs, England. Created in the bronze Age (1200-800 BCE), it stands 110 feet tall and 365 feet long. It could have been the totem of a local tribe, who might have worshipped a horse goddess such as Epona or Rhiannon.

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Sacred art
This piece is inspired by our most ancient ancestors, and often the inspiration comes to me when I enter into the same ‘sacred space’ wither through ritual, ceremony, meditation or trance.  The stitched spirals offer a sense of movement as she guides us over the threshold into the otherworld. This wall hanging is an inspiration, a daily reminder of our connection to source/the divine.

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Wet felted, double ended dreadlocks – click on the photo for full detailsetsy

An Intro to the Tuatha de Danann

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Sunday 06/28. 10.30-5.30pm. Woodfin (5 Mins from Downtown Asheville)

 

‘As a path [art making] can take us more deeply into whatever place it is our soul calls home…Through receiving and giving form to new images, we breathe life into ancient scriptures and eternal teachings…I have seen art lead each seeker to his or her own personal wisdom teachings. These personal teachings strengthen and elaborate that which we know most deeply and will lead us to new understandings o teachings we may have grown up with that no longer seem to fit’.                         Art as a Spiritual Path by Pat B. Allen

 

As we explore aspects of the shining people, the Tuatha de Danann (the people of the Goddess Danu) we will follow our curiosity and weave some of those elements into our doll making. We will meet in circle, each sharing a little from what aspects in the pre-reading resources resonated with us. We will consider what symbols drew us in, what images come to mind – as the Tuatha de Danann are already working on you before you even sign up for this workshop!

Our shamanic journey will lead us into the realms of the shinning people, the faery otherworld….

As we create the safe container for the day and share and explore what aspects we are drawn to as well as our experiences in the shamanic journey we will consider, as Tina Forster suggests, that the intention held while making the doll can offer the very same container and witnessing presence on a personal level.

We enter into a deeper process of doll making – our creative process will be carried out in silence (and mindful conversation around doll making), so we can go deep into the flow of the process, submerging ourselves as we co-create with the shining ones.

We will end the day by sharing our experiences in the journey and through the process of doll making – and how we might work with our dolls, and how they work with us!

full details and booking

An Introduction to the Tuatha de Danann

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 Danu by Druidssart. Click on image to go to her Etsy store.

Sunday 06/28. 10.30-5.30pm. Woodfin (5 Mins from Downtown Asheville)

This workshop is a response to lots of questions i’ve been asked about the Tuatha de Danann, and although this is a huge topic the workshop will cover the following:

What exactly is the Tuatha de Danann?
Who are the Tuatha de Danann- are Brighid and the Morrighan members?
How many invasions were there in early Ireland (and who were they all?)
How did the Tuatha de Danann (actual people) become faeries?
Where did the Tuatha de Danann come from – and what is their significance?
Who are the Sidhe? What are the Sidhe mounds?
What exactly is the otherworld, the land of faery?
Why are they called the Shinning people?
What’s the relevance of the Tuatha de Danann today?

 imagesYou will receive an information pack a couple of weeks before the workshop  – some reading about the Tuatha de Danann through video, websites and articles – you can read as much or as little as you wish. On the day we will gather in sacred circle answering questions through a sharing our knowledge.                                                                                              With live drumming you will be guided in a short meditation which will lead you onto your shamanic journey to meet the sidhe. To live drumming you will undertake a shamanic journey to meet the Sidhe (and receive a CD recording of the guided meditation and drumming). The there will be a period of silence to record the impressions of your journey – journalling, or drawing your impressions or just spending some time in meditation or consulting tarot cards ((Wildwood and Greenwood tarot decks will be available).

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Sidhe dolls

Sacred art

After a shared lunch we will gather again in circle beginning by sharing the impressions and experiences from our shamanic our journeys, then gathering branches and wool we will begin our art project. We will consciously begin making our Sidhe doll by acknowledging that through our doll making we are linking to an ancient heritage and that in creating our doll we are entering into a weaving of co-creating. Our Sidhe dolls are made by a needle felted process where we needle felt around one main branch or several thin branches – while branches will be provided you may want to bring your own (full details will be given at sign up). All doll making tools and materials are provided.

We will end our day retreat by sharing our dolls and the experience of making them and reflecting on the Tuatha de Danann and what special meaning they have for us personally.

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