Sisterhood of the Antlers

Stories of the Ancestral Mothers of Scotland from folk magic and the wise women who honored them. Rooted in the Bean Feasa (Wise Woman) tradition.

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The Bear and the Cailleach

Posted by on in Paths Blogs



Crow call stirs you from sleep and brings you over the threshold of night into day. You awake, wrapping yourself in a warm shawl and step out into the threshold where it’s not quite day and not quite night - the place that magic resides.

This is Autumn Equinox, the day that the Cailleach draws us over yet another threshold and into the dark of the year. Imagine this great old hag chanting powerful words, in no language you’ve never heard - for hers is the language of the mountains and the deepest water.

You take the road to the temple, feet walking a familiar path. This time your feet are crunching on dried leaves, there’s still a little mist swimming in the tops of the trees. Suddenly an owl swoops past you -  a wonderful symbol of moving from the light half of the year and moving into the dark time of the year.

Birds chatter, crows still cawing - for they themselves are guardians of the thresholds. As you get closer to the temple you can smell woodsmoke on the breeze, children are running around laughing and chasing each other. Chickens move quickly to get out of their way.

The temple is a great gathering place, it’s great circular roof is newly thatched and there's the wonderful aroma of the dry straw.

The women have stretched out banners and are repainting the symbols - great images of the She-Bear. Your people honor the bear and her magic and wisdom is your lineage - as was your mother and her mother before that. The great red, gold, black and green banners all telling the story your people have with bear. Their rituals honor Bear as the first descent story and their foremother's rituals as the first hearth, at the center of the Cave of the Grandmothers. 

A deeper ritual of entering the dark and descending into the underworld with bear

Today, Autumn Equinox, will have many rituals to the great She-Bear as she begins her preparation for her great descent into the deep, the dark and her winter sleep. Tonight you and all the women will journey through the worlds with Breejah, your ancient foremother, to visit the Cave of the Grandmothers - those ancient ones who are both women and yet bear.

You pause for a second, as each woman does, before taking the three steps into the temple. These three steps are sacred - and wither your painting banners, serving food or entering in ritual - all pause as they take the three steps. Their purpose is to slow you down, acknowledge the threshold as you leave the everyday world behind and cross into sacred place. These three steps mark the boundary between the two worlds.

As you pause before you take the three steps and place your basket down - peer into the basket, what does it hold? What are your tools that you use in this world? How are you going to prepare yourself as you move over this ancient thresholds and into the dark of the year?

Take some time to prepare before taking this journey with Breejah, an ancient priestess who honors bear, and a journey between the worlds. Maybe you’d like to get your journal and pen to record any thoughts or reflections from the journey. Maybe you’d like to get some colored pencils and paper if you’d like to sketch, draw colors or just markings that speak to you in your own language of your time with the Bear Grandmothers.

Click on the image above to get full details of our online Cailleach course and take advantage of the last week of the $10 off - use coupon code 'daughter19'. 

It is the Cailleach, the pre-Celtic old crone whose age-old ritual at brings us from the light of the year and into the dark - this mornings sunrise shines into the chamber of Cairn T to illuminate the symbols etched onto stone. Click on the image below to hear those gathered honor the Cailleach.



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I am descended from a long line of wise women – for I too am a shapeshifter, a mythmaker, a woman who has always had one ear to the ground and a foot in the other world. I am a listener to old bones and a collector of stories that I gather from the shorelines, deep in forests or atop mountains. Sometimes my shadow shows my other selves sometimes crow sometimes bear, I am She Who Wears Antlers.

I am a radical doll maker, taking this tradition back to its roots and the hands of my foremothers. They remind us of our sacred connection to this world, the otherworld and our ancestors. I am a collector of stories, carrying old ones and those who need retelling.

I am inspired by the Bean Feasa tradition, a wise woman tradition that stretches back past pre-Celtic generations. People sought the wisdom of the wise woman in times of personal crisis and today this tradition can help us face this deepening global crisis.

I am a cultural activist working from the Bean Feasa tradition rooted in pre-patriarchy which honors imagination and creativity and provides us with tools that can help us overcome the psychological effects of patriarchy.

Visit my website for details of online courses, in-person workshops and our annual pilgrimage to the lands of the Ancestral Mothers of Scotland.


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