Sisterhood of the Antlers

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

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Samhain Divination - with Deer, Bear and Crow


Dumb Supper

I value the snippets of Samhain my grandmother fed me - a crumpled aged piece of paper that described a rite for carrying out a Dumb Supper. It outlined laying out place settings for those ancestors recently departed with place names inviting them to the Samhain meal. One of the main roles of the Dumb Supper was to say goodbye to any relatives who had died but were still around, those relatives that were finding it hard to leave the living and fully cross over to the other side. 


Barmbrack with a whisky honey butter! (click on the image to read the article)


A Barmbrack is a Samhain divination bread which has charms baked into it.  You could read into the meaning of the object in your slice of bread although I can distinctly remember not being amused at discovering the figure of a baby and a ring in my slice.  After giving my divination away I decided to use my own charms and bake bread without the dreaded raisins and sultanas. While my barmbrack uses deer, bear, crow and a spiral charm plus an old Irish coin - feel free to use your own charms and set their own meaning.  

Barmbracks are still sold today in high street bakers (although probably with a great warning about choking hazards!). I would imagine that the charms vary from region to region alongside their reading and meaning. 

Barmbrack's on the Isle of Man were called  Dumb Cakes and made by unmarried girls and to be eaten in absolute silence, before going to bed, in the hope to see a future spouse in a dream - click here for source .

My Barmbrack charms (crow skull, deer, spiral, bear and old Irish coin)

I am not a fan of raisins and so I would use a brown bread or soda bread recipe and in a  household, with someone who has full-blown Celiac disease I don't think anyone wants the recipe for Barmback gluten-free pancakes! Here are three recipes, one for basic brown bread and two for traditional Barmback recipes: 

Brown bread recipe

Recipe one 

Recipe two - Irish Tea Barmbrack with a Whiskey Honey Butter Glaze



Try carving a turnip rather than a pumpkin - these are the original Samhain carvings. My mum will still carve a turnip but as you can imagine it's a lot more difficult and there is often a lot more swearing and blood involved! (Image from the Museum of Ireland). 



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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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