Through the Eye of the Reindeer

 

Image from the Cairngorm Reindeer Centre

Through The Eye of a Reindeer

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.

Reindeer eye hag stone

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…..

Celtic Soul Prayer Beads

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!

 

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Practical Magic

poppet-collage

Click on the image to view the dolls in my Etsy store

Poppet definition: Late Middle English: based on Latin pup(p)a girl, doll. Compare with puppet.  A term of endearment (Oxford Dictionary online)

These little poppets are made with clothes pegs and special scraps of tweed and linen dressed in headscarves and shawls sometimes wearing pendants and symbols. I see them as representing the traditional wise woman that populated myths and stories throughout time. They are a symbolic representation of those who carried the stories, the herbal knowledge of working with plants, those women who midwifed not just new souls into this world midwifes of hopes, dreams and souls.

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                                   Cailleach an Dùdain, Isle of Eigg (The Old Woman of the Mill-Dust).

My Wise Women foremothers followed the wheel of the year observing each stage in the cycle as it related to themselves.

I grew up with the term poppet which in Britain is still used as a  term of endearment said to a child. My poppets are tools and it is up to the practitioner on how they work with a poppet – it was Hollywood ran with the ideas of the poppet and the Vodou doll as a practice of dark arts. The doll, after all, is simply a tool which helps focus our intentions.

Being Scottish I see the poppet as a traditional Scottish doll that can be placed on the timeline which traces dolls as tools of intention, magic and ritual back to the stone figurines of the Paleolithic and Neolithic.

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My poppets represent the rich layered traditions of women’s mysteries, the ones who carried the stories – acknowledging that often those stories had to go underground in times of persecution. These poppets are a focus, a tool in our connection to She Who is Everything, they are reminders of ourselves, our lineage, the person we are, the person we are becoming and an acknowledgment that we have much work to do in these dark times. We live in thresholds times, like the wise women themselves who walked between the physical and spiritual boundaries some of us work in the threshold and rebirthing of a vision that once flourished in a time before patriarchy.
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Women in Galway, Ireland

The women in these photos were good Christian folks but Christianity in Scotland and Ireland existed side by side with the indigenous pagan beliefs for hundreds of years. Even good Catholic women like my Grandmother, born In Ireland in 1900 always had a saying or advice that harked backed to a far older time. She once gave me a written prayer to be said at a dumb supper at Samhain (Halloween) which invited the recent dead to a meal, with a place set for them in a ritual of sorts that enacted their place with the ancestors and the need to move onto the otherworld. We are the wise women of today, those who carry the old stories, sing the old songs sit in circle as we sing and dance between the worlds and share stories with each other that nourish the soul and fortitude the heart – for we so need each other in these dark times and to know we are not alone.

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Working with Poppet dolls

Poppet dolls can be incorporated into simple rituals and ceremonies for healing, intention or gratitudes. How you work with them is up to you. Little vials can hold whatever is needed to be held, scrolls of paper rolled up and tied onto them. Talismans pinned and secret symbols stitched onto the fabric.

With our use they become alive in a sense imbued with our deep intentions fulfilling their use as tools aiding us as spiritual helpers.

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Click on the doll photos to go to my ETSY store and use code freeshippoppet at checkout for free shipping.

 


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

The Mother of all Retreats!

The Cailleach w url

 

Do you ever feel a deep longing – one your soul yearns to answer?
Come join us on a shamanic journey with the Ancient Mothers.
Pack your antlers, your drum, your passion, your grief …

travelling altar

An altar to the Ancient Mother’s

Under skies of magical twilight we will shape-shift each night into our true selves – the ones who are fluent in magic and ritual and understand the language of the landscape, the birds, the four leggeds and all those we share our spaces with. We will come together in circle like generations of our foremothers did and stretch our roots down where we meet the Ancient Mothers. With stone and claw and water and antler we will dance between the worlds to the song of the universe – and renew each and every cell.
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We will fill our baskets with that magic, let it inspire and shape us. Let that creative force move through us – through our souls and our hands.

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With song and art, insight and silence we will let the Ancient Mothers talk, sit with them in circle and let them kindle our fires.

 

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Sisters of the Sidhe

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The Cailleach by Loch nam Ban Mora (The Loch of the Big Women)

There is a place far away from here that is very much out of time yet in time. From Loch Lomond I set of north and west via a train ride through some of the most spectacular scenery in the world – the West Highland Way. The route weaves through quite glens offering you views of lochs and impossibly high mountains where you can spot deer and buzzards from your seat on the train. Once arriving in Mallaig an hour ferry ride takes you over to Eilean nam Ban Mora, the Isle of the Big Women.

I have been to this isle a few times and yet even although it is only roughly 5 miles long and 3 wide there are still wondrous places I haven’t visited. On this trip I was definitely called by the Big Women. It is an island endowed with an ancient power, an ancient power rooted in the tradition of the wise women.

sisters of the sidhe

Now there are myths about the supernatural size of these original big women, yet big also means respected, well known, revered. Like the wells on this island, that people travelled many miles to visit for each was known for their distinct properties whose to say others didn’t travel in that time out of our time to visit the Big Women.

The Island holds the Body of Woman in its place names – from her shoulders, breast, throat, back and hip. These stories are woven into the land from a different era when beliefs reflected the great mother in the very land itself.

If the wind is right and the sun almost setting, or anywhere within the hours of light after the sun sets this is the time that this place comes alive. You can hear the chatter near the fairy knolls, and there is certain places where the sheep are running from and the wind picks up and you know your not welcome. And yet I’ve had other places clearly call me there.

loch of the bog women

The Loch of the Big Women

And yet I never felt alone there is always a sidhe in some from or another.

I’ll tell of some tales in the next few posts of abandoned villages, Holy Wells, Amazon Women and on meeting the Cailleach. Ancient tales which have been inverted and twisted and rewritten by Christian monks.

Laig sunset

rum

The Singing Sands looking over to the Isle of Rum

Next post will be a tale of meeting a Cailleach….

The Folk Art Doll

black editedMagic. We all have it and each of us uses it differently. We balance magic, we attract it, we dispel it. We use our minds, we use tools, we use ritual, we use dolls. Some of us even turn it against our own selves without even knowing.

From the poppets of Scottish witchcraft to Vodou and Hoodoo dolls of these Appalachian hills, some stitch and sew and fill with sawdust, dirt and things of the earth.

This doll isn’t Scottish as she was born in Appalachia, inspired by the Hoodoo practitioners, the root workers and the folk magic grannies whose roots grow deep in this soil. Hoodoo’s roots are an impossible tangle, of African origin as much as European and native Cherokee influence. This is folk magic, folk magic of the people, magic of the people who are close to the earth.

red front

Although I’ve found a home here in Appalachia, Scottish soil is my home – a place for me that lies in the threshold. The threshold being not quite of this world and not quite of the other world.

sisters

We constantly move in and out of the threshold, that stillness before we awake each morning – it is our magic to wither we give thanks for a new day, or start the cursing that we forgot to buy coffee. The threshold lies in those magical hours between sunset and darkness, especially in northern latitudes where the light lingers and feeds the imagination. It was that twilight that gave birth to  Celtic spirituality, minds inspired and haunted in those hours between the worlds. There is very little between our reality and the otherworld, the otherworld isn’t off in some far off clouds, it swirls around us like a winter cloak.

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These folk art dolls were born of the threshold – not quite of this world or the other. Their pins remind us of the knots we weave around ourself, the magic we spin without even realizing! They are a focus for our intentions, wither they be to attract or shield – gathering what we need, protecting ourselves against unwanted energies, and helping us reflect it back to its source.

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Both dolls stand on average 8-9 inches tall. Both are priced $49 plus packing and shipping. I can create dolls with particular color combinations – email via the contacts page on this website.

There is Magic in the Air

Click on the the above for the Song of Amergin by Lisa Gerrard
I hear the change of the season, in the rustle of dried leaves, in the cawing amongst the crows. Yesterday a cool breeze swept down through the trees and instantly I was transported home, across the ocean standing on a high hill overlooking the Clyde. There is no constant but change and I welcome this next great shift in the wheel of the year. Day and night now move into balance, leaves begin their journey back to the earth and changes shift within us.

I hear the words of Amergin call. I get goosebumps, his song through time, space – where both really have little meaning.

Change offers a new perspective, a new beginning, a new cycle. We shape shift, imagine all the different perspectives in this world, realities within realities through time.  Play with this, take a different perspective, see something differently, feel something differently – their is magic in the air!
I am a stag: of seven tines,
I am a flood: across a plain,
I am a wind: on a deep lake,
I am a tear: the Sun lets fall,
I am a hawk: above the cliff,
I am a thorn: beneath the nail,
I am a wonder: among flowers,
I am a wizard: who but I
Sets the cool head aflame with smoke?
 
I am a spear: that roars for blood,
I am a salmon: in a pool,
I am a lure: from paradise,
I am a hill: where poets walk,
I am a boar: ruthless and red,
I am a breaker: threatening doom,
I am a tide: that drags to death,
I am an infant: who but I
Peeps from the unhewn dolmen, arch?
 
I am the womb: of every holt,
I am the blaze: on every hill,
I am the queen: of every hive,
I am the shield: for every head,
I am the tomb: of every hope.
 

Song of Amergin translated by Robert Graves, from The White Goddess

A magical process

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‘Fulling is where the wool gives up it’s secrets. You can never predict exactly how a wool will speak…I enjoy a kind of meditation when i get tot he fulling process. [It is] is a conversation between you and the wool..You may be using the same wool used by thousands of other felters, but it is a new conversation each time. Christine White ~ Uniquely felt.

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I’m not the sort of crafter that buys lots of glossy books on felting. In fact I have just one. There isn’t lots of short cuts and 15 minute projects. This book speaks about your relationship with the wool, it’s about understanding the process which is happening under your hands. Diving into it’s pages I feel i’ve got so much to learn but I’m ready for an apprenticeship.

My shoulders and arms sometimes dread the fulling process  – throwing out alarm bells in memories of physiotherapist visits from years of bad typing posture. But this time I didn’t want to just throw it in the washing machine to finish it off  I wanted to feel what was going on.  With the purple towel laid out and the little copper cauldron with soapy water it seemed I was preparing for some sort of ritual. To me feting is a ritual, it’s a little bubble of time outside of time. Time set aside. A time for inner dialogue where thoughts bubble up.

As my hands guide the wool to shrink, I know I’m not really in control. It is a conversation, yet one which always throws up  an element of surprise, the unexpected, magic. It’s like life ~ how we deal with outcomes, how much work we put into where we want to go.

And so after much rubbing and pushing, rolling, soaping and soaking … it was as if the as if the vessel was always there it just needed the fibers to take shape.

vessel