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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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. 

 

Do You Yearn to Answer Your Soul’s Calling?

The CailleachHave you heard the call dear sister? Felt the longing to connect to your spiritual roots? To hear stories of ancient women and to walk the land they walked on? To walk the land with your own bare feet with ears and eyes wide open – for the land talks to us when we are in the right frame of mind. The soul is always receptive but living in our world we build up layers that sometimes get in the way of our connection.

This is one of the reasons I decided to hold this retreat – it’s not a get away from it all retreat it’s a sink your roots down retreat, strengthen those roots, inspire and empower us retreat so when we return home we are fully connected to our foremothers – who are whispering in our ears.

We will share stories of the mythical and historical women of this land – from Queen Moidart whose amazon warriors slayed the incomer Christian monks. The land itself holds stories of the Cailleach and the Deer Goddess – was this Deer Goddess a Cailleach herself?  What ignites my imagination and curiosity  is the the idea of all the priestesses of these old ones, the women who performed ritual and ceremony invoking these old ones throughout the year.

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One night as the day entered twilight, that time that’s not quite day and not quite night I had such a strong sense of that old antlered one, as if her very bones formed the bedrock of these lands.

Twilight is such a magical time and in these islands perched at the edge of the world twilight lasts for hours after the sun goes down. This is the time that spirituality was born. Like the women who came before us we too will pick up the tools of ceremony and ritual and work with our personal intentions ones which feed into community and global concerns.

Do you hear the call dear sister? Shall you step out onto sacred land with me and take a dance between the worlds?

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Booking Update

We have 3 bookings so far so seven spaces left on this retreat to the lands of the Ancient Mothers of Scotland.

If you wish to receive the early booking discount for the Retreat you can pay the entire amount in one payment up until 31st December. If you’d rather take the option of paying a deposit first (which is available until 31st October) and then your remaining sum is due on 31st December).

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Invoking the Cailleach in the Fight Against the Dakota Access Pipeline

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Click on image for source. Sacred Stone Camp, North Dakota.

Our elders have told us that if the zuzeca sape, the black snake, comes across our land, our world will end. Zuzeca has come – in the form of the Dakota Access pipeline – and so I must fight.The Dakota Access pipeline threatens to destroy our sacred ground. I am defending the land and water of my people, as my ancestors did before me.’ Lyuskin American Horse in Canon Ball, North Dakota (click to read Guardian story) 

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Water is life. All life here on earth depends on it. When exobiologists look for life in the universe they look for the presence of water. Our planet looks mostly blue when seen from space. I’ve watched videos on twitter with the gathering of native peoples and supporters across America and been inspired with speeches on Standing Rock Spirit Resistance Radio which is based at the protest. 

More than anything i’ve been so moved by these gracious people, rooted deeply in non violence. How they talk about the fight, their lives and their solidarity with people supporting them with a spirituality that seeps into every word and action, comments rich with concern with the children and future generations.

Their fight is our fight, water is under threat around the world from fracking, pollution and this huge proposed pipeline which would carry approximately 470,000 barrels per day of fracked oil from the Bakken oil fields, 1,172 miles through the country’s heartland, to Illinois. The pipeline will cross the confluence of the Cannonball and Missouri rivers, where it threatens to contaminate our primary source of drinking water and damage the bordering Indigenous burial grounds, historic villages and sundance sites that surround the area in all directions.

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Sacred Stone Camp founder LaDonna Tamakawastewin Allard’s great-great-grandmother, Nape Hote Win (Mary Big Moccasin) survived the bloodiest conflict between the Sioux Nations and the U.S. Army ever on North Dakota soil.

I’m not saying anything new here but in light of the lack of news (or tainted news from mainstream media) we are now the media. Sharing each others stories, films, news from the frontline.

In the oldest beliefs from my country the Cailleach, the oldest deity is renewed every one hundred years when before any birdsong or human noise she submerges herself fully under the waters. These waters are her otherworldly source, they are the the primal and cosmological essence which everything is born from. To pollute the waters is to pollute the most sacred essence, upon which our lives depend on.  Ancient wells found around Scotland and Ireland are decorated with clooties, Celtic prayer flags where people leave requests from the dieities of the place. The water itself comes from deep underground aquifers – the embodiment of the Great Mother who on her gushing forth into the land provides life.

Today in the same lands the Cailleach is often laughed at as an old irrelevant hag, a useless old woman but she is still here and I wouldn’t mess with her. This dark moon I held a silver bowl filled with sacred waters from the Well of the Holy Women from the Isle of Eigg in Scotland – and evoked this great old one in this fight against the zuzeca sape (the black snake, the Dakota Access Pipeline).

We can support the people on the frontline with rituals and magic, with donations and sharing this news.

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I’m offering 25% of any doll sales going to support those protecting the sacred lands. Click on the image above to view the online shop.

For those in the Asheville area I’m working on a small fundraiser. In times of dire need Celtic folks would light a fire, a big huge burning festival. So in this time of need i’ll be inviting local folks to come to a BBQ, a fire where we can offers prayers and ceremonies and dig into your pockets and send $$$. Lets invoke the old Hag so she can do whats she does best! Bring death to the black snake, for without death there can be no renewal of life – and a way of living that doesn’t threaten life. We invoke her for the folks on the frontline the protectors of the sacred lands of North Dakota – knowing they are emblems for struggles all around the world.

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The Sacred Stone Camp – suggestions to support those on the front line:

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Click here to support the Sacred Stone Camp fund via GoFundMe – We are asking for financial support for water-propane – food and blankets  for the camp.  This is a prayer camp movement to save our sacred land and water and has been entirely supported by the people and the campers.

Click here to donate to the legal fund

Click here for the Sacred Stone Camp FAQ – other ways to help

retreat is for

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Women wishing to answer a deep soul calling

Passionate women who care about the state of the world and want to engage with both their joys and grief

Women wishing to connect to a female honoring spirituality

Women fluent in the language of ritual and ceremony

Women who walk the paths of activist, amazon, priestess, witch or wise woman

Women who dance between the worlds

Women who honor all life, the web of interconnection, circle, ancestors and the wheel of the year


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This beautiful landscape of a Hebridean Scottish island offers a supporting foundation for deep self discovery

You’ll be enrolled in a community of like minded women which begins when you officially sign up to the Retreat

Visit sacred sites, work with the energies of this place and submerge yourself in the realm of the Ancient Mothers

Explore doll making as an ancient spiritual practice of doll-making which allows you to make meaning of the unseen, lets your hands give it form and creates possibilities for the future

Time for personal reflection, solitude and silence

Explore the liminal – within yourself, within each day and the threshold we are living in within history

Work with shamanic tools which allow you to explore your intentions and personal needs and facilitates a communication with the Ancient Mothers


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Leave with a renewed sense of engagement, revitalized connections and enthused about your role in the world

Engage with a process which allows you to put all of your experiences, insights and connections made into focus for your own personal work

Grow new roots which permanently connect you to the Ancient Mothers which will continue to strengthen and empower you

Birth your personal Aisling (Irish Gaelic term for dream/vision) which will be a source of sustainable inspiration

A grounding in our female lineage

Friendship, connection and community which both supports and empowers

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