Blood and Bone. Honoring Ancestors and Our Wild Self

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We live in challenging times. Who hasn’t felt overwhelmed and daunted at the sheer scale of ecological destruction and social injustices taking place? We take onboard stresses and worries which results not just in an emotional but a physical toll. Together we will consider the world our most ancient ancestors lived in, a life completely integrated with nature. At this great Celtic festival of Samhain with ancient trance posture, art, doll making, ritual and co-creating ceremony we will awaken our wild selves, ask our ancestors for wisdom and bring our experiences back into todays world to help us live in today’s world.

Aspects of retreat:

Honoring recently departed relatives with altars & personal ritual

Experience trance through posture & dance

Co-create ceremony within a circle of standing stones

Create a totem doll which we will use in ceremony working with ley lines

Create an ancestor doll to celebrate your wild self

Learn ways to honor ancestors throughout the dark months ahead


‘Perhaps each day our lives undertake unknown tasks on behalf of the silent mind and vast soul of nature. During its millions of years of presence perhaps it was also waiting for us, for our eyes and our words. Each of us is a secret envoi of the earth’.

John O’Donohue, The Invisible Beauty

Bear Dreaming

Our ancestors are shape shifters and can take many forms. Since an early age my oldest ancestors appear to me as the Circle of Grandmothers – sometimes human, sometimes with a hint of bear. While it is a long time since bears wandered in Scotland, their spirit still walks the land. I experience the goddess Brighid as having a bear affinity which you can read about in my essay listed at the bottom of this page.

We will invite bear energy in with a specific bear trance posture and bringing in a teaching I received from my ancestors in the ‘Dance of the Grandmothers’ which will be the foundation for our ceremony which we will co-create together. We will work with our intentions with our totem doll, which is a part of bear magic – dancing our intentions deep into the earth and the ley lines. We will also explore how to work with our ancestors throughout the dark months.

‘Ancient, forgotten things stir within our hearts, memories from the time before the mind was born. Within us are depths that keep watch’. John O’Donohue

Why Trance?

With a trance posture and a trance dance at the centre of our ceremony, trance offers us its unique gifts through the  release of beta-endorphins throughout the body aiding to our well being. Trance also offers an expansion of consciousness and the journey allows us to ask for specific guidance and allows us to seek specific healing. Throughout time it has offered a means to rearrange the order of the world and in our modern times that offers an opportunity to play our part in aligning our lives with the ways of the earth.

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Intention doll

Our Wild Self

We have forgotten that we are part of nature, and we are just as wild as the birds and the trees. Yet somewhere in our past a split occurred. Fortunately that split only exists in our minds as our body and soul still sing the deep song of unity with the world and the universe. Within sacred space we cross over to the otherworld and the insights gained help heal our relationship with self and our ties to the land all which can be integrated into our lives and illuminate new ways of being.

Doll making

We will create a special totem doll which will hold our intentions and used in our stone circle ceremony. On sunday we will also create an ancestor doll (pre-made needle felted doll) which we will embellish. This will represent you as a living ancestor and can hold the messages and impressions from our ceremony while representing our wild selves. We will  also discuss how we can work with these dolls throughout the dark months ahead.


View of the stone circle


Our home for the weekend is Britanny’s Mountain Retreat which is just 12 miles from downtown Asheville. This private retreat sits on 5 acres of land and offers many options to take time out and relax.

Your Facilitator

Jude Lally is a radical doll maker working with the energies of our ancient ancestors. The role of her dolls is transforming from wool and fabric into sacred vessels of the divine. It is with this sacred connection that she brings into practice ecopsychology skills in remembering, connecting with and celebrating and rejuvenating our ecological self. Jude has a Masters degree in Human Ecology and her passion is to reconnect and rejuvenate those ancient energies within us by bringing some of that wonder and inspiration from a nature integrated way of living into the present.


This all women retreat is limited to 8, minimum number of participants is 6. The retreat begins at 10.30am on Saturday 10/31 and finishes at 2.30pm 11/01. Price includes accommodation and basic meals. We will collectively prepare vegetarian meals: light lunch and light dinner on saturday – with food available after the ceremony and breakfast on Sunday.

Please get in touch via judelally (at) with any questions or to pay with check

Retreat cost $189



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.

Click here to read the essay The Great Bear Mother by Jude Lally

O’Donohue, John. 2004. Beauty The Invisible Embrace. Harper, USA.

6 thoughts on “Blood and Bone. Honoring Ancestors and Our Wild Self

  1. Jude, this offering sounds incredible. I wish I could fly out to join you for it! An chance of an online version in the future? I’ve been experiencing some of my ancestors as connected with Bear ….

    • Hi Jane, good to hear from you, hope things are well with you. Oh yes I see an online workshop exploring Brighid & Bear, and maybe other aspects of goddesses and animals!

      Jude x

  2. Pingback: A Samhain Invitation… |

  3. Pingback: A Call to your Wild Self |

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