Inspired by Tahlequah’s grief and the power of ritual in a transformation
Choose your own beads
Tools of the Wise Woman
Orca with the Isle of Eigg in the background and the peaks of Rum in the distance. Click photo for source – Wilderness Scotland
It’s been an emotional journey following the lives of Tahlequah, her calf, and her pod in their heartfelt grief ritual. Killer whales are one of the most widely distributed species, although many of the individual pods are severely threatened. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) is a nonprofit group which maintains the ‘“Red List” a global list of endangered and threatened wildlife. While they haven’t put killer whales on the list many individual pods of orca are facing widespread and localized threats to their survival.
Before I introduce the Scottish orca pod to you I had to share this recording (made by the Whalemuseaum.org) of Tahlequah and her pod communicating. This was recorded on the 29th July, 5 days after Tahlequah’s calf had died. Click on the whale to listen to them.
The top photo isn’t Puget Sound but an orca swimming off the coast of Eigg in Scotland. This is where I run my Ancestral Mothers of Scotland retreat each year. Just a few months ago the same pod was spotted in the River Clyde!
The home territory of the ‘West Coast Community’ orca pod
Britain occasionally has visits from transient Orcas who travel down to Northern Scotland in pursuit of their prey. Many of these visitors are from the Icelandic population of Orcas. Transient Orcas can be spotted from Shetland, Orkney, and Caithness where they are regularly seen. Scotland however, has its own resident pod of 8 Orcas that are regularly seen around the Hebrides, where it is commonly referred to as the West Coast Community. These animals are sighted year round, throughout the inner and outer Hebrides, particularly around the Small Isles and the Isle of Skye. These resident Orcas never mix with the transients from the North.
Research from the University of St Andrews in Scotland and North Carolina State University carried out a study, published in the journal Behavioural Ecology and Sociobiology which discovered that the main difference between the transient pod and the residential pods is their diet. Residents eat fish, whereas transients hunt and eat marine mammals, including seals and porpoises. In the 40 years that these animals have been studied, scientists have never seen a resident eat a mammal and never seen a transient eat a fish.
Each of the Scottish resident Orcas can be identified by their unique markings, and have been given names: John Coe, Floppy Fin, Nicola, Moon, Comet, Moneypenny, Aquarius, Puffin, and Occasus.
The body of Lulu, one of the West Coast Community orca pod who washed up on the Hebridean Isle of Tiree
Last year, the body of a female orca was found on the shores of the Isle of Tiree, Scotland. Her name was Lulu and she was one of the West Coast Community pod members. She died after becoming ensnared in fishing nets yet after analysis it was found that her body produced surprising results, as Rebecca Morelle reports for the BBC reported, her body was found to contain one of the highest concentrations of pollutants ever recorded in a marine mammal.
The Scottish Marine Animal Stranding Scheme and the University of Aberdeen conducted an in-depth investigation of Lulu’s corpse and found that analysis of her blubber revealed a PCB concentrate 100 times higher than the accepted toxicity threshold for marine mammals. High PCB levels are linked to poor health, impaired immune function, increased susceptibility to cancers and infertility. The investigation revealed that Lulu was at least 20 years old but apparently never reproduced, despite being much older than the average age for maturity in killer whales. Brownlow called Lulu’s apparent infertility an ominous warning and said it is “increasingly likely that this small group will eventually go extinct.”
Scotland has known orca’s around the Hebridean isles for thousands of years. Some of the earliest people to these islands might well have swan with these great creatures in their hand-built boats as they came to spend the summer gathering and hunting. This Samhain I am launching an Ancestral Mothers of Scotland online Wheel of the Year course which will cover an ancient Scottish wise woman, Cee-al, who has a unique connection with the creatures of the Hebridean seas!
Click on the image for the documentary trailer
There are currently a total of 60 orcas held in captivity (27 wild-captured plus 33 captive-born) in at least 14 marine parks in 8 different countries. I remember campaigning in the early 1990’s when I lived in Brighton, on the south coast of England to free Missie a dolphin who I think had been in captivity for around 20 years (I was the same age). With great campaigns all over the country, the majority of these businesses shut down and closed their doors forever. Missie, the dolphin from Brighton was released back into the wild in the Caribbean (with several other UK dolphins).
A great short film created by the International Marine Animal project discussing Sea world’s lies of happy and healthy captive orcas and the real alternative of returning them to a sea sanctuary.
Links and source articles
Amazonite & Howlite Antler prayer Beads – click to view in the shop
Howlite is a stone that looks like ancient bleached bones. In fact, it can help absorb calcium and strengthen teeth and bones, yet its bone-like appearance can connect us to the bones of our previous lives. While many people will tell you tales of previous lives at King Arthur’s court or their life as Egyptian royalty, howlite helps us to remembers past lives and maybe it will tell you of your previous life of fox, owl or even a great elk. This set feature a wonderfully gnarly antler tip from a wildcrafted naturally shed White-tailed deer antler, maybe you might remember a previous life as deer? Surely all our previous lives weren’t human and for those lives that were human who is to say that they were lived out on planet Earth!
Howlite also offers us qualities of soothing our emotions whether that be anger or stress. It calms an overactive mind and howlite prayer beads are particularly useful in meditating with before sleep to help calm your mind if it often races with worries which keep you awake. It is a stone beneficial in recalling information – wither it’s the past lives we mentioned earlier but if you’re like me and have trouble remembering your dreams, howlite can help recall that wisdom that came to us when sleeping.
Click to view in the shop
Amazonite is a stone o the peacemaker and the truthteller. Firstly it helps us communicate our true thoughts and feelings and then secondly it helps us with compassion in an ability to see the others point of view. We can work with it by keeping it under our pillow – it helps make everything more conscious and with it being a stone of truth we can trust it’s visions and dreams and the intuitions that bubble up while we are working with it.
Amazonite is particularly powerful in manifesting our dreams and desires. Try holding it as you consciously affirm what it is you wish to create and the power of the stone helps our ability to bring this into being.
What an invitation into the wild, to see the world through the eyes of a reindeer. To see through their eyes is the story about a rather special hag stone. It’s is a rather magical stone, which told me it’s intriguing tale.
The great eye of the stone was formed many thousands of years ago, yet this tale is set in its relatively recent history – a mere yesterday of 14,000 years ago. It was worn around the neck of a wise woman. She practiced the ways of being with the reindeer. She was the one who ran with the herd and saw the luminous trails of their ancient migratory paths sparkle and shimmer in the land where there was no path to the discernible eye.
She wore this stone around her neck and when in trance, swaying to the heartbeat of the drum she would look through the stone and find the herd. Then she would shape shift, feeling her hooves touch the earth run and stretching her legs she would run, run with the herd. She would interpret their movements into answers she needed for her people. How to cure this, what plant for that, what solution to this – this is how she gained her answers. As the female reindeer led her herd this wise woman led her people.
She Who Runs With the Herds
Here lies an ancient invitation here to work with this stone and to view the world through it’s eye under a dark and a full moon – what stories and insights she might whisper…..
Click on the Etsy heart below to view the stone in my shop – it forms the focal point for a set of Celtic Soul Prayer beads and you get to select the gemstones. The prayer bead set will be created in ceremony just for you.
Stay tuned for Scottish travel stories as next week we’re off to visit the Cairngorm reindeer herd!
As we move towards spring equinox it is time for us to leave the winter cave. This is not an easy time as I am really getting into the rhythm of hibernation, dreaming and exploring it all in art. Trees full of spring bloom entice out as well as mild weather, until some snow and we feel justified again to retreat.
To help with the shift I’m offering 10% of all prayer beads sets. The circle of beads is divided into eight sections which represent the wheel of the year, the diving beads mark the threshold and a point where we are equally between two festivals. I created these beads as I am not of the tradition which mala’s or rosary beads belong to.
There are many ways to work with these beads and I find as my fingers move around the beads it naturally quietens my mind. Breathing in and out of the circle o beads is also calming, as I hold them in my hand and let the medicine of the stones work is effective,
Spiritual Warrior Beads with Wolf & Bloodstone
These prayer beads are imbued with the spirit of wolf, acknowledging how their very presence helps a landscape flourish and yet that these beautiful creatures are persecuted. These prayer beads are inspired by the spirit of the wolf and paired with the medicine of a stone which is called the stone of spiritual warriors.
Sheela na Gig Prayer Beads with Carnelian
The theme of these Celtic Soul Prayer beads is set by the Sheela na gig pendant a figure found adorning medieval church entrance ways whose origins go back to Paleolithic cave art. Starr Goode author of ‘Sheela na gig: The Dark Goddess of Sacred Power’ describes her as a renewing life force of the universe. She is a symbol of birth and rebirth and all the creative powers of the cosmos.
click on photo to view in shop
Woman of Willendorf Prayer Beads with Picture Jasper
The Woman of Willendorf is probably the most well known of the ancient female figurines. She represents many things to many people and to me she represents the female lineages, my foremothers. We can only imagine the world of the people who created her, what she meant to them and their deep relationship to the land.
click on photo to view in shop
Edgewalker Antlered Prayer Beads with Hematite and Mystic Quartz
The beads separating the sections in the Celtic Soul Prayer beads represent the thresholds, the edges of one holyday as we move into another. The threshold beads on this set are purposely large with the use of mystic quart crystal to represent being at the edge of things. Thresholds are in between places – not quite fully in one and not fully the other yet somehow a combination of both. The main hematite beads provide a strong grounding and protecting force in the work you do on the edges – be that in an otherworldly realm, in your community or even at the edge of your own thinking or interacting.
Wolf and bloodstone prayer beads – click on photo to view in shop
Antlered hematite and mystic quartz prayer beads – click on photo to view in shop
Antlered mookiate prayer beads – click on photo to view in shop
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 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.