Meet Jude Lally – Retreat Orgainser
Photo by Rowan Emily Sweeney
Jude has been listening to the voices of the Old Ones ever since she was able to scramble up the local hills above Loch Lomond, on the west coast of Scotland. Jude is an artist, writer and ritualist. She works in the Bean Feasa (Wise Woman) tradition in old and new ways, both which are rooted in women’s mysteries and knowledge. Although brought up in a Celtic culture she feels the strong pull of her pre-Celtic roots, working with the ancestors in her female lineage, which she has traced back to a woman who lived 25,000 on the European tundra. This ancestor is Xenia, one of the Seven Daughters of Eve as identified by Bryan Skyes and the DNA analysis through Oxford Ancestors.
Jude views the Bean Feasa as not just a Celtic figure but a living tradition rooted in women’s mysteries stretching back to pre-Celtic peoples. She uses the symbol of antlers, inspired by female reindeer (the matriarch of the herd) and those women (and clan) who followed the reindeer. Antlers are a symbol in honoring femaleness, valuing the sacred knowledge of women’s mysteries and fighting for the rights of women and girls around the world.
She views doll making as a radical tradition taking it back to it’s roots and the women who made stone figurines as well as dolls of bone and fur which didn’t survive. These sacred tools were made in ritual and ceremony and created with magic and intention.
Her dolls often begin in a dance between the worlds in a journey to meet ancestors or otherworldly guides. Her dolls represent the insight gained and exist as both inspiration and invitation to weave that wisdom into our everyday lives – inspiring us to social and environmental activism through ways of creative and radical resistance.
In women’s circles, ritual and ceremony she employs creativity as a means to express those experiences so they can remain real and tangible in a world that offers so many distractions away from what is sacred.
As a Keener she works with those who have died and in illuminating the path to the otherworld. She also acknowledges a modern need, especially for women, to grieve, to hear each other’s stories and employ ways of the Bean Feasa to facilitate that healing.
Jude views her work as threefold – like the great triple spiral on the kerbstone at the entrance of Newgrange. The first spiral is about storytelling, sharing our own stories as well as travelling to the otherworld with our own personal and collective intentions and sharing those insights. The second spiral is in co-creating in creativity. In turning off our chattering mind and entering into that zone and allowing ideas to flow. To create art that sings of that co-creation and embellishing it with personal meaning and ways to weave it into our daily lives. The third spiral is in women gathering together – the Sisterhood of the Antlers. Like the Newgrange spiral the three spirals of her work and born and feed back into a central point which she views as the great mystery.
Jude gained her MSc masters degree in Human Ecology at the University of Strathclyde (Glasgow, Scotland) in partnership with the Center for Human Ecology, with her thesis entitled ‘Fire in the Head, Heart and Hand. A Study of the Goddess Brighid as Goddess Archetype and her Relevance to Cultural Activists in Contemporary Scotland’.
She currently lives in Asheville, NC where she moved in 2009 where she runs the Sisterhood of the Antlers – a program of online courses, in person workshops and retreats to Scotland.
Lally, Jude. 2016. Radical Doll Making from Willendorf to Today: The Relevance of an Ancient Tradition. Contained in: Hye-Sook Hwang, Helen, Beavis, Mary Ann and Shaw, Nicole (Eds), She Rises. How Goddess Feminism, Activism and Spirituality? Mago Books, USA. Pgs 99-111.
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.
Lally, Jude. (2015). Ancient Mothers of Loch Lomond. Sage Woman. Sacred Lands. Vol 87, pgs 8- 13. You can access this article here: Sage Woman article pdf