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.



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




Sheela na Gig Prayer beads

I’ve always enjoyed hunting out Sheela na gig figurines in old churches in the West Country of England such as this one I got to visit at St Mary and St David’s Church in Kilpeck, Herefordshire (not my photo).

This wonderful curious figure is often a liminal figure as you enter into a church a reminder that your entering into sacredness, a sacredness that Starr Goode in her book Sheela na gig: The Dark Goddess of Sacred Power links the Sheela na gig to Paleolithic cave art and relates the sacred display of the vulva to be a universal archetype and the most enduring image of creativity throughout the world. 

The Sheela na gig prayer beads are inspired to bring you into alignment with this cosmological creative force, she who gives both life and death.

Click on the Etsy heart to view the Sheela na gig prayer beads in the shop



Click above to listen to Karen Tate radio interview The Mysterious and Sacred Sheela Na Gig with Starr Goode author of Sheela na gig: The Dark Goddess of Sacred Power. 





New Goddess Brighid Prayer Beads

Click photo to view in online shop

The Goddess Brighid is a fire Goddess. When she was born it was reported that flames were leaping from the roof of her house. The uniqueness of Brighid’s fire is that is a fire of compassion rather than a flame that burns. The main carnelian stone of this prayer bead set represents Brighid’s fire for the stone holds a medicine of inspiring creativity and motivation.

Click photo to view in online shop

Brighid is known for her mantle which had magical qualities. It is a healing cloak that offers great comfort when it’s wrapped around you. This blue/green form of African Bloodstone offers the same qualities of all bloodstone, which are all a form of Jasper, which helps us in nourishing our roots allowing us to feel more comfortable in our own body.
This set of prayer beads offer working with the magic of Brighid’s mantle wrapped around us and the stone medicine of drawing courage from that protection and the confidence to face whatever it is we need to face in our lives while we remain grounded.

Click photo to view in online shop

The pink of the adventurine beads is symbolic of the first rays of Imbolc light, it’s not yet spring but the new light carries Brighid’s blessings as she ‘breathes life into the mouth of the dead Winter’.

Click photo to view earrings in online shop


New Brighid online courses launching this week: 

Weaving Brighid’s protection

Creative Imbolc Ideas

Breejah’s Daughters – Exploring the path of bear, Goddess and Mary of the Gael

Grandmother Bear Prayer Beads

Click on the image to view in the shop

New prayer beads made under the waning moon as we approach the autumn equinox. I really like these new ‘Bear’ prayer beads. Autumn equinox is a time of balance and stillness before we make the descent into the dark of the year. It is an invitation for us to stop and evaluate how we really are. What things do we need to let go of and what things do we wish to take into the dark with us?

With working with the most ancient grandmothers and bear the first animal humans ever honored we enter into her great dreaming cycle with her, we call her cave home and can return there throughout the winter months when the franticness of the human world with its consumerism and endless distraction becomes too much. When we’re able to sink down to our roots we can weave the wisdom of bear into our lives.


The Ancestral Soul Path


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.




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.


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.


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


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.




Calling all Amazons against the Kurgen President!

final-imageThe hardest thing I did yesterday was to get out of bed. I could feel my shock in the election result in my body. It weighed me down, I couldn’t move fast. When I got out to the garden  was surprised that the world seemed the same – the tree’s were in the same places and the sky hadn’t cracked open.  I moved very slowly yesterday, glad for the little things – washing dishes and cleaning the kitchen, doing laundry and sweeping the porch, little things brought me back to life.

While on waking I had the fragment of a dream ‘we are born for these times’ rang in my head to which I loudly replied no, I’m small, I’m tired and I’m overwhelmed. By lunchtime, I really was tired and ready to back to bed.

I slowly stirred from my shock gratingly annoyed at messages of we must meet everything with love and reassurances that somehow this is part of the big plan that things will get worse before they get better.

Today was easier to get out of bed, I don’t feel so numb and my shock is lifting into a well-placed anger. As I made coffee I noticed lots of threads of spider silk coming off the big dead tree in the garden on onto the mountain laurel bush (who is flowering), other strands are roped out onto the fence post, onto the grass and I enjoyed the notion that we are all connected. It’s the great wheel of life that our foremothers honored, the great web of time, space and everything in-between.

The election news was like an alarm bell going off as if warning us of another Kurgen attack. Those initial attacks started 6,000 years ago, we live in a Kurgen society and now have a Kurgen as president! Today my shock has turned to a well-tuned anger and I have to admit I’m a little prickled to those saying we must turn to it all with love or that it has to get worse before it gets better – erm, 6,000 years of patriarchy is pretty freaking bad! The centuries and centuries of genocides on women, the witch burnings – exactly how much more can we take?

I’m not going to tell you words above loving stronger, or that there is a light at the end of the tunnel as right now I can’t see it. What I do know is that it is the dark of the year. I come from a circle culture and our temples that were burnt to the ground, all the women burnt as witches, all the women who have gone through the unspeakable we all come together in HER temples when we sit in circle. And behind our circle is another circle – one made up of the grandmothers, the old ones, our foremothers. We have the web, we have the tools of shamanic journeying, of dancing between the worlds and asking those ancient ones for their wisdom. We have circle, we have the wheel. And right now we have darkness – darkness where all our energies are rooted in the dark place, a dark place that birthed the universe, it’s birthing our creativity, it births our reality if we let it and not come from a pace of yesterdays emotions.

Our culture has endured thousands of years of persecution, thousands of years of misogyny, oppression, massacre, abuse, injustice, torture, murder, rape……

And while we may feel small alone we are of a circle culture, and when we come together her temples are rebuilt, we travel between worlds and return with visions and guidance, we inspire each other with our stories and root it into our lives through creativity and then weave it into our lives in the fight that seems ever-present.

Those thousands of years have turned us into amazons, warriors and we each fight this battle in our own way. I resonate to keep doing what I do and come together in circle around the wheel and nourish our roots with our great culture of femaleness, of togetherness, of ancestor, of healing and in fighting!

While I had to write these words (even for myself) I had to question adding on events I’m offering, but that’s what I do in the world – we each healing and together we raise our amazon swords!


And in May 2017 we will gather in circle on the lands of the Ancestral Mothers of Scotland. We will do deep shamanic work with ritual and ceremony, visit her sites work with our fears and anger, our inspiration and commit to the work we do in this worlds.

Blessed Bee

beeAs i’m heading north later this year to move to Maine my last two workshops here in Asheville will take place in August.

The penultimate offering is Blessed Bee! A day exploring the role of bees and the spirituality of these wonderful little creatures.

Click on the image above for more details & booking. The early registration discount has been extended until Sunday