Sisterhood of the Antlers

Walking the path of the Ancestral Mothers of Scotland with stories, art, and ritual

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An Invitation to Cast a Caim

Posted by on in Paths Blogs

Crisises. Take your pick, we aren’t running out of them any time soon. 

War / Climate breakdown / political instability / social injustices / economic inequality/ people escaping war and oppression seeking asylum / food insecurity / access to healthcare / violence against women and girls / violence against trans people …

The grief I felt about the breakdown of climate systems used to be surmountable. At times the panic rose so that I felt that I was on the edge of a cliff looking down into a dark void. 

What if I were to jump in - what would happen? That’s exactly what I did, I let go and jumped. The strange thing is it was this jumping in that saved me, that brought me to a place of calm amidst the raging maelstrom (what happened is a story for next year). 

As the year draws to a close and we begin another, I invite you to cast a caim around all who need it. 

As Israel’s government continues its genocide in Gaza I read a report that brought me to tears. While approximately 1,200 souls were killed in Hamas’s attack on the 7th of October, I wasn’t aware of the horrific and brutal sexual abuse that took place in that attack. I had to stop several times as it was almost unreadable, but I forced myself to read the details to bear witness in my small way, to what those women and girls went through. 


          Click on the image for the website of the creators of the above print - Ken Speckle letterpress

I often use the caim in prayer, in my mind it is cast out far and wide, just like Brighid’s cloak when the King of Leinster said she could have as much land as her cloak could cover (for her convent) and as she spread her cloak out over the land it miraculously grew and grew covering acres. 

A vision of the caim, an invoking prayer that is cast around, like the trail of a cloak - so it surrounds the body, offering a bubble of safety. 

…make the caim in fear, danger or distress...the suppliant stretches out the right hand with the forefinger extended, and outstretched finger while invoking the desired protection. The circle encloses the suppliant and accompanies him as he walks onward, safeguarding from all evil without or within'. - - 

Alexander Carmichael, Carmina Gadelica

My image of casting a caim, begins with yourself, then letting the circle of protection widen out to the area surrounding where you live, encompassing wild animals and birds and to the land itself. It touches the earth and ripples out through the mycelium and all hibernating creatures, and dormant plants. 

Wider still out past the factory farms and imprisoned animals, offering a loving touch to the pig, stuck in a stall so tight she can barely move and offering comfort to both mother and child: the calf who will never get to know his mother, and for her sadness in never knowing each calf she is forced to bear. 

Out moves the caim to those escaping persecution, traveling in small boats on rough freezing seas, trying to reach a new land, hoping to be met with understanding and compassion. 

If all this is too much for your heart, sit in the bubble of protection and your prayer will travel on and do what it needs to do. 



The following is an example of a caim, a prayer invoking Brighid’s protection: 

The compassing of Brighid
Be upon me and all those who need her 
The protection of the Goddess 
Be upon me abiding ever eternally,
May the compassing of the Three Brighids
Protect all from hate, from harm, from act, from ill,
Shield all this day,
Shield all this night.
A rewriting of the original - Encompassing, Prayers for Protection, Carmina Gadelica #248
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Jude Lally is a forager of stories. You’ll find her out wandering the hills around Loch Lomond, reading the signs that guide her to stories in the land.

As a Cultural Activist, she draws upon the inspiration from old traditions to meet current needs.
She uses keening as a grief ritual, a cathartic ritual to express anger, fear, and despair for all that is unfolding within the great unraveling.
As a doll maker, she views this practice as one that stretches back to the first dolls which may have been fashioned from bones and stones and ancient stone figurines such as the Woman of Willendorf. She uses dolls as a way of holding and exploring our own story, and relationship to the land as well as ancestral figures.

She gained her MSc Masters Degree in Human Ecology at the University of Strathclyde (Glasgow, Scotland) and lives on the West Coast of Scotland on the banks of the River Clyde, near Loch Lomond. She is currently writing her first book, Path of the Ancestral Mothers.



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