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.


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.



The Call of Ancestral Longing


Sunday 3rd April 2016. 10.30-5.30. Woodfin, just ten mins from Downtown Asheville

As I am moving to Maine this summer Ancestral Longing is one of the last workshops I’ll be holding in Asheville, NC. 

***Just one place left ***

Have you ever experienced a longing for a place you might not be able to pinpoint on a map? A longing maybe for a time that might well dwell within the mists of time? What are these longings and who is it that sings the call?


We will gather in sacred circle and share elements of our longing. We may recall the fragments of a forgotten dream – a leaf whose color calls to us, the rich emerald green of the softest velvet or the feeling of a song or a line from a poem. We will gather our fragments together and hold them with our intentions as we move through the day.         Maybe you might even have travelled to the place that called your soul – how did it feel to be there? How to you weave elements of that experience into your life?


Sacred journey

A guided journey will take us between the worlds and with live drumming we will visit a place of our ancient mothers holding our intention close. Then we will spend time in silence reflecting on that journey and reflect in meditation, drawing and collage.

ancestral longing jd words

Soul Map

In the afternoon we will create a needle felted wall hanging – a soul map of elements and features, weaving in story and spirit of place. We might not know exactly where is calling to us but our souls will recognize the path. While all art materials are provided you may wish to bring special embellishments to add to your art piece.


Sketching my soul map of Loch Lomond


Workshop price  $85 – all materials provided








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

Doll Making Circle

doll making collageYour are invited to a circle, a rather special circle. A circle that has existed for hundreds if not thousands of years. It’s a circle of women, of stories and intention. It’s a circle that weaves women’s mysteries, ancient traditions and recognizes the tail that cycles back to the first Goddess honoring people’s.

It’s a circle of heart felt intention, of purpose and personal ritual. It’s a circle of doll making inspired by Willendorf, of the thousands of Goddess figurines and shapes and forms ancient hands moulded and created in Her honor. As we gather cloth and beads, threads and talisman, wool and needles we honor all the women who sat in similar circles. With story and truth we honor this tradition and with simple personal ritual we will share the ways to bring Her into our lives.

The doll making circle meets over three months, 03/29, 04/25 and 05/31. You may join one circle or all three. sha 3 edit

Doll Making Circle 1 ~ Ancient Mother (3 places left)

In this first doll making circle we will explore the concept of the primordial mother, envisaging the people’s who honored the great mother, she who gave birth and death to all. We will explore the concept of this mother archetype and what that ‘mothering’ aspects personally means to us.  Some preliminary reading will include the concept of the ‘mother’ archetype, stone ‘Venus’ or goddess figures as well as the work o Maria Gimbutus and her archeological work of Old Europe, unearthing thousands of goddesses figurines relating to a belief in the great mother.

bee 1 edit

Doll Making Circle 2 ~ Celtic Goddess (2 places left)

In our second doll making circle you are asked to select a celtic Goddess you are drawn to and select some qualities of hers that resonate with you. We will create our sacred circle by sharing stories, and images about our goddess. A guided meditation will help generate a connection and inspiration regarding your chosen goddess, or goddesses.

Main pic edited

Doll Making Circle 3 ~ Wise Woman, herbalist and healer (2 places left)

In this third doll circle we will come together again in sacred circle and explore the concept of the wise woman, from earliest shaman to witch, we will explore their role in working for their community as well as their roots in tapping into a great mother energy and explore the stories and legends that explain this connection.

Doll Circle full details here

Imbolc Retreat 2015

Imbolc 2015 poster

Exploring the Goddess Brighid, from bear Mother to holder of women’s mysteries, from foster mother of Christ to shaman.
Shamanic journeying
Sacred art
Doll making
Protection rites
One and a half day Imbolc retreat. Sat 7th 10.30-5.30 and sunday 8th 10.30-1.30 February, 2015.  Woodfin  (5 mins from Downtown Asheville, NC). $125. Click here for full retreat details and booking. Early bird price extended until 1/28. 


Celebrating Highland Women – a workshop

Keeper with watermark


Celebrating Highland Women. (traditional songs and doll making). Sat 15th November, 10.30 – 5.30pm. Asheville, price $65.

A day to celebrate the archetype of Highland women – ancestors from the marginal Celtic lands of Scotland, perched  at the very edge of the Atlantic.

We’ll share stories of what speaks to us about them, from their ‘Celtic Spirituality’ (a weave of Christianity and Celtic Pagan beliefs), and touch upon the Picts, and mythology such as the Selkie.

A guided meditation will take us to the most westerly lands, perched at the very edge of the Atlantic where views open up to huge vistas where the sea meets the sky (a very sacred space in celtic belief) and the concept of sacred thresholds or thin places. 

In the afternoon we will begin by learning a waulking song in Gaelic, these are the songs the women sang as they worked. When tweed comes off the loom it’s stiff and the weave can be quite loose, after being soaked in stale urine (which helped fix the dye and partially soften the cloth they women then sewed the tweed together so it formed one continual circle. They worked together swapping gossip as the worked the wet cloth, in effect felting it – reducing it’s size by slapping it down on a table or hard surface which shrunk it making it shrinking it and making it softer. The cloth was always worked in a clockwise direction and as it was unlucky to sing the same song twice – songs were very long with lots of verses.

In the afternoon of we will make our own ‘Highland women’ needle felted doll, while all art materials and tweed (not tartan) will be provided you are encouraged to bring small personal and meaningful embellishments. We’ll combing earthly colors, incorporate elements of Celtic spirituality and make our doll a tweed cloak.


tall brighid edit 2 See more of Jude Lally’s doll work here

Check out celtic Soul Craft’s other workshops here


Articles on waulking, tweed & links to listen to waulking songs:

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Making Harris tweed: From Shearing to Stamping (click on photo for short film)

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Molloy & Sons. Donegal Tweed Makers, Eire. (click on photo for short film) (including information on Harris Tweed) Waulking song & video