New Dolls – Keening and Antlered Women!

The Keening Woman – click to view in online shop

These are the last dolls of the season before we shut the shop next week and get ready to pack our bags and head to Scotland for the Ancestral Mothers of Scotland Retreat! 

The Keening Woman

The keening woman was employed in Ireland and Scotland to grieve over the body as part of a death rite. Her role was to lead the communities grief for the person they were grieving and also to show the way home to the otherworld for the person that had died. Keening was always a woman’s role and goes back to an earlier pagan tradition and a shamanic role. Traditional keening (in the presence of a dead body) has long dies out yet has begun to flourish in an age where grief is taboo and is used in modern ceremonies for an entire host of reasons in which we see fit to release our grief not just for those who have died but for the state of the world. Click on the image above to view in the online shop.

 

She Who Whispers to the Deer – click on image to view in the online shop

She Who Whispers to the Deer

She comes from a time of ice, a time when great herds of reindeer crossed from mainland Europe across land to Britain. She is that energy of the reindeer running the ancient migratory paths. It was she who ran with the very first herd, guiding the leading female. She is protector of the reindeer and the long line of priestesses who followed. Click on the image above to view in the online shop.

 

Elen of the Ways – Click on the image to view in the online shop

Elen of the Ways

Elen of the Ways is an ancient British shamanic folklore figure. Elen wears antlers, which female deer do not have although female Reindeer do which links her back to the early people who followed the reindeer herds from Europe over to the UK before the great ice sheets melted and created the North Sea and resulted in Britain becoming an island.

Elen is the ancient Deer Goddess, an archetype of the land. The deer followed their pathways made over generations of migrations, often running along leylines. Elen offers insight into other worlds, to see between the worlds and to be that communicator between the realms. Click on the image to view in the online shop.

The Keening Woman

keening-doll-collage

Brighid, Keening and a Time of Crisis 

In the days of keening, laments would be heard all year where people gathered to mourn loved ones. While many take their vows at this time of year and say yes to Brighid and yes to another year of living, there are those whose time isn’t to say yes as they have begun their journey onto the next world.

My grandmother was one of those who couldn’t say yes to another year of living at Imbolc and so took that journey with Brighid who birthed her into her next life. As with tradition, there was a wake with her body returned to the house in the coffin while neighbors came to visit. Keening was long gone by this time and the song for those days was the clinking of teacups on saucers and the rattling of rosary beads. I was a little taken aback when neighbors came over and lovingly touched her face and stroked her hair, for I had never seen a dead body before and my Grandmother looked different due to the makeup the Mortuary staff had used. The wake is an old tradition where the body is kept at home for three days after death – so that the person can adjust to being dead and know it’s time for them to leave this realm of the living and move on to what awaits them.

Click here to continue reading my article on Keening on Goddess Ink’s blog ….


Keening Woman Workshop

This March I am offering a Keening Women Workshop here in Asheville, NC.

We will begin our day together by discussing what elements from the reading resonated with us the most. Then we will move onto our feelings of living in these times which I don’t have to tell you can be overwhelming. We will explore keening within the Spiral of Reconnection created by Joanna Macy so we can express feelings but ground them in a positive framework that helps us move past our grief and into making a commitment to bringing change in this world. We will begin by sharing our gratitudes for living on the earth in a shared gesture before moving into honoring our pain which we will do within a keening ritual. Next we will undertake a guided meditation and shamanic journey to ask the advice of our ancestors and future beings for our personal role we walk in the world. Then we will spend time exploring this idea through art, journalling and collage – or perhaps you’d rather sit in silence, walk the labyrinth or just be in silence on the land.

labyrinth

Labyrinth with Hawk Guardian in Attendance

Creating Keening Dolls

In the afternoon we will make a Keening woman doll – she can be adorned with items which represent our own unique path and the work we do in the world. The doll is designed so she can hand on a wall or outdoors and we will discuss how to work with these dolls as well as each participant receiving a booklet on how to work with dolls.

While all doll making materials are provided participants are required to bring special natural objects, pendants or ribbons and yarns.

screen-shot-2016-09-06-at-2-59-25-pm

Mini Cailleach Retreat

screenshot-2016-10-25-at-10-20-51-amThrough the Eye of the Cailleach

                               Friday 25th November 7-9.30 pm – Saturday 27th November 10.30 – 6.30pm 2016.                                              Woodfin (5 mins from Downtown Asheville, NC).

By the 25th November the pumpkins have started to rot, the costumes discarded and the decorations back in their box. The majority of ancestral souls have returned to where they dwell. The world is quiet, dark and it is time to answer the souls calling and journey into the cave. As nature draws her energy down to the roots it is natural for us too to turn inwards as it is here in the dark that we can best tend to our soul life. This retreat gathers in the foothills of the Appalachians in sacred  circle as the overhead moon wanes from crone into the dark moon.

The Cailleach is sometimes described as having a great third eye in the middle of her forehead. Through this eye she can see through all time and space, her great insight her primal  intuition. She see’s all that causes havoc in our world. We will draw on her wisdom and activate our own third eyes so we can see afresh into our own lives and see the cause and effects that we might otherwise be blind to.

third-eye-effect

Will you allow yourself some slowing down this winter. Come, come join us in the cave. Drop your baggage by the entrance. You are welcomed here, wrapped up in a bear skin, given a seat by the fire and a mug of steaming herbal tea.

We gather on the Friday evening in circle as we share stories about the Cailleach and our feelings around the dark. We will add personal items to our Ancestor altar for our time together.

caill-carman-2

Cailleach doll

We gather again on Saturday morning in circle. A  guided meditation will introduce us to  the priestesses of the Cailleach and live drumming will invite you on a shamanic journey travelling with our own personal intentions. We will have a period of silence for journey reflection, art, collage or writing.

In the afternoon we will create our Cailleach doll (see the above image for example) she will be made through a needle felt process which is easy to learn and suitable for complete beginners. We will also add special features such as bags and pockets which can hold sacred items and intentions.



Free sign up gift –  podcast on ‘Working With the Grandmothers’ 

 

screen-shot-2016-09-06-at-2-59-25-pm

Doll Making on the Ancient Mother’s of Scotland Retreat

AM collageThe Ancient Mothers/Ancestral Mother dolls – Deer Goddess, Clutha, cailleach, Brighid. 

I hated dolls as a child. I found them eerie and to be truthful I didn’t know what to do with them. Fast forward a good few decades across an ocean to another continent – how did I end up a doll maker? I remember a distant aunt once giving me a doll – I didn’t know what to do with it. I did the only thing I could think of I cut off her hair and as I waited for it to grow back she received a set of full body tattoos. I loved playing with toy animals and their stable, I even had an invisible dog but I just didn’t understand dolls.

When I first arrived in Asheville (NC) seven years ago I went to volunteer with a local group called Our Voice a non profit supporting survivors of sexual abuse. While I practically couldn’t be a volunteer I ended up running a series of workshops. Now here’s a bit of syncronicity – many years ago before I could even point to NC on a map I met a woman via a photography site. It was several years before we met in person and guess where she lives – Western North Carolina. I signed her up for a doll making workshop then when she wasn’t able to run the class I learned doll making from her to run the class myself. I headed up to her town on the Tennessee border in the sweltering summer and there we created magic with wool.

breejah-main-brighter

Breejah – My first doll

Breejah (pictured above) is my first doll and when she emerged from the wool she announced her name was Brighid. Hmmm – the Brighid I asked? Yes she replied with her dark skin and dreadlocks. I was expecting Brighid to have pale porcelain Irish hue and the flaming red hair. Breejah and I have travelled a lot and she has guided me to many places and shown and taught me many things.

Doll making is my exploration with different deities, they almost call out from the wool to be made. My relationship is in the making, in the co-creating. I’m curious about this place we interact with, is it the ultimate source? (however you wish to name it?). Dolls are powerful tools and I see our ancient foremothers as doll makers with figures like the woman of Willendorf. I love to think of the intentions and rituals as the ancient made their dolls.

cailleach-by-loch

My Cailleach doll by the Loch of the Big Women on the Isle of Eigg

On the Ancient Mother’s of Scotland retreat we will be making a doll. I hope to get some local wool we can use. Our dolls will be born of our own intentions, gratitudes and prayers. They might be adorned with special shells, hold small little glass vials with sand or holy water. They might have the wild hair o the Cailleach, antlers of the Deer Goddess, hold vials of sacred water or ashes of our sacred fire. Dolls are sacred vessels, they can be our focus for our relationship with the ancient mothers. They are altars for offerings and gratitudes for requests and intentions.

main-edit

Click on the doll image above to read my essay Radical Doll Making From Willendorf to Today: The Relevance of an Ancient Tradition 

screen-shot-2016-09-20-at-11-36-46-am

Click on the image of the book above to learn more about the anthology my essay is published in as well as reviews and ordering information. 

screen-shot-2016-09-20-at-2-04-27-pm

Click on the above image to view the retreat itinerary

A Costume for the Cailleach

cailleach-collage

‘At Samhuinn, the veil between the worlds draws thin and the spirits gather close to bear witness as the courts of Summer and Winter battle for control of the seasons. In her wild ecstasy of grief and sorrow, the Cailleach ushers the last breath os Summer’s opulent decadence into the beyond to make way for the icy storms of Winter’s dark reign’.                        Beltane Fire Society 

 cailleach-postersBeltane Fire Society’s posters

The Beltane Fire Societies events – Beltane & Sumhuinn in Edinburgh are not to be missed! The creativity, the dancing, the drumming – the ritual! Those were wild nights. These days my relationship with the crone has changed and shapeshifter as I too have. My reflection on the wheel is more of a women’s psychology – the wheel of my foremothers. There is room for all views of the wheel for we are not all from the same village.

This year the Beltane Fire Society’s Cailleach extends an invitation to send a fabric square which will be stitched together to make her costume which will be worn in their great ritual on Samhuinn night in Edinburgh.

Click here for the original post and mailing address (to Edinburgh, Scotland) 

I was stitching little keening dolls when I read this news. Intention woven into the fabric with each repetitive action – as i my hands were spinning new weaves which went out into the great web that connects all things. I so love this idea of a communally created gown and so if you miss the Scottish deadline I am more than happy to take strips of fabric (measuring 20cm x 10cm or 8 inches x 4 inches) which will be stitched together and worn at a Cailleach ritual in november – in the belly of the deep. The garment will be a shroud of sorts for the Cailleach – for she ushers in death in the winter months as without death there is no rebirth. if you’d like to send a intention or request with your fabric – you can roll it up in a scroll and it will be burnt on our dark need fire. Deadline for fabric – 20th October.

Contact me here for my address. 

click-to-check-out-cc-course

Wings or Not Wings?

Bee collage

 

In my preparation for the Blessed Bee workshop (now full) I have been exploring the story of the Melissae (latin for bees), the priestesses at Cybele’s temples in Greece and Rome. Bee’s have been familiars for the Goddess for thousands of years and Cycele’s priestesses were prophets or oracles who entered an ecstatic trance enduced by preparations that included honey. Interestingly the Greek word for this state of transfigured consciousness is enthusiasmos — ‘within is a god” which is the root of our word enthusiasm.

‘In the center of the world, a fissure opened from the black depths of Earth, and waters flowed from a spring. The place was called Delphoi (“Womb”). In its cave sanctuary lived a shamanic priestess called the Pythia—Serpent Woman. Her prophetic power came from a she-dragon in the Castalian spring, whose waters had inspirational qualities. She sat on a tripod, breathing vapors that emerged from a deep cleft in the Earth, until she entered trance and prophesied by chanting in verse’.     Max Dashu

I’m not sure about the wings. I liked the idea of bee’s as messengers between the worlds. Maybe she needs a different style of wings? Somehow hinting at that element of prophecy?

References: 

The Pythias excerpted from Secret History of the Witches © 2009 Max Dashu

 

An Ancient Mothers Circle

old dark one magoc

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.

celene edit

Caroline edit logo

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.

kimchi edit

terra edit

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.

images