Sisterhood of the Antlers

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

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Gather What Your Need for the Dark

Posted by on in Paths Blogs


A Prayer Whispered into the Threshold


We're at the threshold of Samhain and Winter Solstice. Can you feel the pull, the heavy thump - the heartbeat of the old antlered one whose bones lie deep in the belly of the earth?

At Autumn Equinox the old crone drew us into her ancient ritual of bringing us into the dark of the year. The morning light streamed into Carin T at Loughcrew as women sang and played drums announcing the beginning of our descent into the dark of the year. 



As the old crone, the Cailleach walks the land, striking down life so it returns to its roots - for there can be no birth or rebirth without death.  Small hibernating creatures spend the winter tucked up under her skirts, and I've seen a curled up hedgehog or two in her eyebrows. The Cailleach holds the greening of the year safe within her plaid.

As the days shorten and the days lengthen women have gathered in the dark around hearths, around kitchen tables, and around smoldering fires. One tradition for these women is to gather some clay-rich earth, add some saliva and create the figurine of a curled up sleeping woman. The women keep these figurines close - some keep them in pockets while others keep them in special pouches or bundles. The figurines remind them that no matter what they are going through a part of them is curled up in the deep rich earth hibernating. That hibernating self is curled up with the great she-bear in the Cave of the Grandmothers and the small dolls are invitations to step between the worlds to visit the cave and ask the wisdom of the bear Grandmothers. 


One ritual for these women is in gathering kindling for their winter fires. Kindling for sacred fires that burn throughout the dark. These are fires for the things they hold most sacred. A stick or two for something special and a gnarly branch for that thing you need some willpower and courage to deal with.  


Whatever these women do when they gather - there's always a rattle or a drum, rituals and some ceremony and they sink down. Down into the belly of the earth, down into the cave and the womb to a place where you're surrounded by bones. Some sit and listen to the bones - their stories and their wisdom. 

These women usually bring many baskets - overspilling with thoughts and dreams, hopes and fears some worries and some grand plans. As they gather together in gestures of ritual they make magic - meaning and intention - and most importantly conscious shifts, cosmic shifts that bring about change in their own lives, change that they want to be in the world. 

So gather your kindling, gather your sisters and shift between the worlds to ask the wisdom of the Bear Grandmothers.





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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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