Her hand moves slowly over the beads as her eyes look out over the landscape. We are in the time of Lughnsadgh, a festival which although it has been known by many names has always been a time of great gatherings.
The priestess sits with her thoughts as the morning unfolds, as she holds her prayers beads in hand. She is of the clan of the Old Antlered One, an ancient linage which stretches back to the time of the great ice. The antler on her prayer beads is now deer but it symbolizes a time of the reindeer and all the mysteries that her lineage holds.
Under this time of the waxing gathering moon she looks forward to seeing her sisters of the seal clan, the wise selkie women, she looks forward to meeting her bear sisters, the women who tend the Cave of the Grandmothers plus her sisters of the Shield and the women of the Eagle clan.
Although this is the time of year when the clans gather, exchange gifts, teach each other new skills there is also much singing and dancing later into the night. The wise women find the time to gather together just with their sisters - to join in circle and honor the old ones - through ritual and ceremony and rites of the mysteries each women holds in her linage. each of the women carry their own prayer beads. It is their connection when they aren’t together.
The circle the women form together is the circle of life - reflected in the circle the prayer beads create. The circle of beads replicates the great circle of life which holds each birth and breath, each stage of life, of love, tears and joy and it also holds our fial journey the one we take back home through death and rebirth.
The beads hold all of this and rarely, very rarely there will be so much intense emotion that the silk will actually break, the beads tumbling to the ground - all within helping the ritual of release in whatever form it takes.
The priestesses of the old Antlered One hold antlers on their prayer beads sets, In honor of a great antler which has been carried down from priestess to priestess through many generations. This great antler is said to have come from a time of the great ice. The antler they carry on their prayer beads connects them to their ancient lineage. (although probably deer is a symbol that connects them to this ancient linage.
There are priestess whose beads hold a hag stone, a snake stone - some of these women are midwives for throughout folklore these stones have helped aid women 9and animals) in birth. SOme women see the great eye of the Cailleach in these stones and use it in their work as they connect to the great primordial Hag. Some women whisper incantations, spells and all manner of well chosen words through the eyes of the hag stone.
Whatever your lineage, wherever you are to hold your prayer beads in your hand is an invitation to enter sacred space. The first three circular silver beads are ‘step beads’ and as you hold each of these eel yourself dropping down into the mindset of entering sacred space - picture a temple, a shrine or holy ground. Next is an invitation to leave all your baggage - your questions and worries, this ‘mystery bead’ invites us just to be present within this sacred place, to let go and to sink into the mystery, honor that which we don’t fully understand.
The circle the beads form has eight sections representing the festivals of the year. They are represented by eight wise women who hold the traditions of the Ancestral Mother, women who hold the relates mysteries and practice those rites and ceremonies. Each section has a ‘threshold’ bead where the energies of the festivals merge and overlap. Right now we are in Lughnsasdgh but you might well be beginning to feel the pull of autumn equinox. And so as you hold your beads what is it you are priestessing - what tradition do you follow and what wisdom do you practice, hold or are perhaps seeking?
If you are interested in journeying the Wheel of the Year with the priestesses of the clans of the Ancestral Mothers - click here to sign up for the mailing list then you’ll receive your invitation to join the course before it launches at Autumn Equinox.