Radical Doll Making
I am a radical doll maker, my art is born out of an ancient tradition. My dolls hold the same intentions that my foremothers placed into their dolls - hopes and intentions, sorrows and prayers. This tradition produced stone figurines such as the Woman of Willendorf and hundreds of thousands of bone and fur, blood and bone, twig and stone creations which didn't survive.
The Bean Feasa Tradition
I am of the Bean Feasa tradition, A Gaelic term describing a wise woman tradition whose roots stretche back past my Celtic ancestors to the pre-Celtic and beyond. I can trace my lineage back to a woman who lived in Europe at the time of a great ice age in 25,000 BCE (mDNA clan of Xenia, mitochondrial DNA analysis by Oxford Ancestors). She and her people followed great herds of reindeer and other herds. The symbol of an antlered woman honors that lineage and encompass the inspiration, magic and mystery.
When I was a child, my dad would take me my brother and sister walking around the hills where we lived up above Loch Lomond, Scotland. Among the stones at the top of Carman Hill (the site of an Iron Age settlement), I would sit ever so quietly, scrunching up my eyes and in my imagination I made all the cars disappear, the roads, and with a final blink the houses vanished. Then I would hold my breath, like an ancient incantation hoping I could see the Old Ones that I knew lived there. These were the people from a time before the roads, cars and houses. Even at my young age I knew this place had a quality to its silence and later learned to recognize that this is a place where this world and the otherworld flow into one another.
While wise women work in many paths o life with their own tools - for some it’s herbs, counseling, teaching, I work with the tools of tools are art, ritual and imagination.
Ancestral Mothers Study Path
My teachings in the Ancestral Mothers Study Path introduce women to the Ancestral Mothers and to study them (in the first year) through the Wheel of the Year. In the second year students take the bean Feasa path and explore in greater detail the insights and the tools offered by each of the Ancestral Mothers. These paths are to inspire women to tap into their foremother lineage, to follow the Wheel of the Year and create new stories and ways of living based on partnership culture.
I use creativity to inspire us with the tools of the Wise Women and offer ways we weave that into our daily lives.
The Sisterhood of the Antlers
One way of weaving this culture together inspired by our foremothers, is the Sisterhood of the Antlers, a gathering place for women – sometimes in person, sometimes nomadic and sometimes virtual. A place to learn, share and inspire through online courses, workshops, and pilgrimages to the lands of the Ancestral Mothers.
People often turned to the Bean Feasa in times of chaos in their lives and yet today, in a time of planetary chaos, wise women are the motivating forces in their communities. The women embrace their traditions, they work within communities, working for the liberation of all, for all in their community, for liberation of our sisters, sisters of color, for the rights of women and girls around the world as well as the creatures, plants and the very earth herself.
I create tools of transformation for living today which are rooted in this ancient culture, born in a time before any notion of the dominance of patriarchy. This cultural heritage provides tools to honor so many things that have become taboo in our culture, practices of rites of passage, of ritual around death and working within the framework of the seasons and the great festivals with gestures of ritual and community ceremony which all tap into our ancient lineage and inspire creative ways through which we can resisting the dominant paradigm.
Jude gained her MSc masters degree in Human Ecology at the University of Strathclyde (Glasgow, Scotland) in partnership with the Center for Human Ecology, with her thesis entitled ‘Fire in the Head, Heart and Hand. A Study of the Goddess Brighid as Goddess Archetype and her Relevance to Cultural Activists in Contemporary Scotland’. She currently lives in Asheville, Western North Carolina but is planning her move back home to Scotland.