Healing the Witch Wound Workshop - Voice is Medicine
A group of women travelled near and far to gather close to the time of Midsummer. Not for celebration, but to learn the forgotten female practices of keening and lamenting the loss of the dead, as women had done centuries ago. They came together on this day to learn the old ways, so they could sing home the souls of the accused witches of Scotland. My land and one that is woven with supernatural stories and keeps a secret sadness trapped in its rich dark soil. For the body of the Cailleach lovingly holds the spirits of those who were tortured, strangled, and bodies burnt to ash. The daughters and sons of a nation, whose supposed learned elite forced false confessions down the throats of innocents and condemned them as witches in a time not that long ago in history.
This workshop aimed to begin to heal the invisible legacy of the witch trials. A wound that is not seen but deeply felt by many and has continued to disempower women for centuries. An ancestral trauma felt by the descendants of those who were burned for witchcraft. But you don't have to have blood ties to feel this wound. Women have lived in fear of being persecuted for centuries, and this fear has been passed down the generations to the present day. It is a scar in the soul that manifests as a fear of judgement for intuitive abilities. Fear of repercussions for possessing healing skills. Fear of arcane knowledge. Fear of the second sight and the cunning ways of old. In essence, a fear of all the elements that enable women to embrace our wild nature. The unwanted inheritance of a patriarchal curse that prevents us from living an authentic life.
There were many reasons why people were accused as witches. One being the dislike of outspoken women, who many believed could charm, curse, and cast spells with their voices. For me, this made working with traditional practices like chanting, keening, and lamenting even more relevant. I knew that by reclaiming the voice as medicine, its power could be used to emancipate women from this ancestral curse. That by using our voices in this way, we give voice to the thousands who were killed during the witchcraft trials in this land. It is time to reclaim the right to be heard as indigenous women of magic.
During the workshop, we welcomed the spirit of the voice and fed it honey as an offering. The women learnt charms and chants old and new before they tasted the warm salty tears of those that had gone before. It was then that I witnessed the birth of a tribe of lamenting women, who keened and cried for Scotland’s accused witches. I felt a mother’s pride running threw my veins, to know that this sacred work will be carried forward. That these traditions will be kept alive and that those who were persecuted would never be forgotten by those present that day.
We carried out ritual to begin to break this ancestral curse in the here and now. By the washing of our wombs in well water that we made sacred by our prayers. The soft chants that filled the air were truly magical. I could feel the unwinding of a curse that had hidden in the flesh and bones of our lineages for generations. The healing of fears that were not ours to bear but as women we endured them none the less.
Then this circle of sisters wrote their laments for the accused witches of Scotland. These were sung at the ‘carn na cuimhne’ (Cairn of Remembrance). I have built this with stones from each ceremony and event I have held to honour the innocents killed by kirk and king. It is not a grand memorial but a simple folk memorial. If you stop by, please pay your respects by leaving ONLY a stone to remember the accused. This was the way of our Scottish forefathers.
Why do this work? It is my hope that by healing this wound, the curse of fear that has disempowered women for centuries can be broken. By healing the original witch wound by offering traditional death rites and singing their souls home, the accused witches can join their ancestors and become the peaceful dead.
Please get in touch if you would like to learn these traditional practices from a Scottish wise woman……