Cailleach Doll by the Loch of the Big Women
The heart of the retreat is to submerge yourself into the nature of this small yet radical Scottish Island and draw on its female honoring roots. The Gaelic name of the island is ‘Eilean nan bam Mora’ which means Isle of the Big Women.
The retreat spends ten days visiting special sites on the island, sharing stories, art and creativity inspired by it’s Celtic and pre-Celtic past.
As we engage with the ancient ancestral energies of this place from being on the land, through stories and art the Ancestral Mothers become known to each women through their individual experience. Enriching experiences such as the twilight of these northern latitudes and otherworldly journeys help facilitate and deepen that experience.
What do the Ancestral Mothers Represent?
The Ancestral Mothers represent a female linage which weaves through Celtic to pre-Celtic to figures in the ancient mists of time. A representation of our female lineage which takes in myth and legend, folklore as well as imagination and creativity.
In our storytelling day we’ll explore tales of the Ancestral Mothers such as the Amazon warriors of Queen Moidart and the female Celtic warrior Scathatch of the neighboring Isle of Skye (you can even see the Isle of Skye from Eigg). We’ll explore the concept of who were the ‘Big Women’ and what that definition might mean – from women who were looked up to to other worldly figures like the Sidhe.
How to Build a Relationship With These Ancestral Mothers
From just being on the land with time spent alone in nature, through simple ceremony around the Well of the Holy Women, from otherworldly journeys and creative arts such as doll making are all ways we can begin, reflect and deepen our relationship.
I particularly enjoyed connecting with the Big Women through making my doll, feeling her coming alive more and more to where I felt the spirit of the ancestral mothers both in her and in myself. K Daniel
Who are the Ancestral Mothers?
After 40 years of talking to the land and building relationship through all the different creatures that live on the land I call the Ancestral Mothers of the lands around Loch Lomond as the Cailleach, A antlered figure deity, Brighid and Clutha.
The Cailleach is the pre-Celtic hag, the great crone. She is the closest that Celtic myth has to a creation story in that she creates the landscape, moving great boulders and rearranging the landscape which often takes place through fights with her sister. She is old – with no known genealogy – although in later stories she becomes the Hag to Brighid as a young woman.
Retreat participants will receive a place on the online course “An Introduction to the Cailleach” – A five session online course which launches in October and is required reading for the Retreat.
The Old Antlered One
I’m not quite sure if ‘Deer Goddess’ is the correct figure for this old one. She is an an Ancient Mother who is rooted in a primordial cosmology as she was there at the dawning of human consciousness. She appears differently to people – to me she appears with a deer’s skull wrapped up in a great dark cloak which shines with the wonders of the cosmos to others she is Elen of the Ways. Another route to understanding this Ancient Mother is to consider the role of the Deer Priestess whose connections lie back to a time when people traveled seasonally to Britain following the great reindeer herds when Britain was still linked to Europe by the land bridge of Doggerland – a place which now lies submerged under the North Sea.
Brighid is the great Celtic Goddess who has survived through countless generations, her story changing over the ages in reflection to changing human beliefs. The hebrides are known as Brighid’s isles for she was so loved here. Her roots are pre-Celtic, possibly lying with ancient bear cults, which then evolved into the great fiery Celtic Goddess of old whose inspiration carried on to be merged with the more modern Saint Brighid – herself also a fiery woman.
The earliest peoples believed that water held life as without it life couldn’t exist. Clutha isn’t just the essence of the river Clyde she is the waters within the clouds, the streams and the Loch. It was Clutha who gave me that insight of her as “she who cycles”, from the clouds drifting in from the Atlantic, dropping their waters when they meet the mountains of the west coast. She falls as rain onto the shoulders of Ben Lomond, trickling down in little tributaries, joining others creating mountain streams, cascading down waterfalls and pouring into the dark peaty waters of Loch Lomond. While Clutha is a localized Goddess of the River Clyde, this cycle of water plays out across the world and is attributed to the same great Goddesses by different names.