Ancestral Songs & Stories
of Scotland

An 8-week workshop series

to connect you with ancestral traditions of the Scottish lands


New Program Starts in 2024

Below is the information  from 2023’s course

This new Songs & Stories series is intended to weave a connection between you, the land and traditions of Scotland, through music and storytelling.

Whether you have Scottish ancestry or are simply drawn to go deeper with the land and culture of Scotland, this is an opportunity to connect with some of the ancestral ways that are still alive and being carried forwards.

Over 8 weeks you will have the opportunity to hear & learn some of the old songs and stories of Scotland. Our 8 teachers will share wisdom from their heritage, history and customs, giving context and depth.

Listening to the old songs and taking the time to learn to sing them, can inspire your own connection to place, your voice and expression.

We will be joined by some of Scotland’s wonderful traditional storytellers, who will take you on a journey through story, myth and lore, awakening remembrance of ancient yet timeless animistic cultures and ways.

The course also includes an "Introduction to Scottish Gaelic" class, allowing you to taste the language and feel it in your body and bones.

May this series touch our hearts and awaken remembrance of our original ways.

What’s Included

We know that song and story have the power to awaken ancient memory.

Our prayer is that this series will do just that.

What You'll Learn

8 Scottish culture-bearers will point us back to our indigenous European roots through the teaching of old songs and stories.

Participant Reviews

Honouring Traditions

For personal use

The songs and stories shared in this course are intended for participant’s own personal education, healing and enrichment.

Preserving

We honour the path that each teacher has walked to cultivate and carry these songs, stories and traditions that they share with us. By joining the course you agree not to replicate, alter or dilute the content. Understanding that in doing so we lose the essence of that which we are wanting to preserve.

Respecting

We welcome the ongoing exploration and conversation around the appropriate ways to receive and honor these teachings. We see this as part of the education this course aims to provide – bringing awareness to the respectful ways to connect and learn from these traditions.

Presence

As if we were gathering together around the fire in the old way, we ask you to come to the classes with your full presence. Please have your video on, if possible, making space and clearing distractions, so you can fully be with us, receive the gift of this wisdom and participate in the workshop.

Why This Program?

Greetings! My name is Hanna Leigh, (IG: @hannaleighsong) originally from California (Chumash territory).  I am a Singer-Songwriter, Voice Doula, Weaver, and Devotee of this precious, living Earth. My people migrated to the U.S. several generations ago from England, Scotland, Norway, Germany and the Netherlands.

For the past several years I have been on an inspired journey to reclaim ancestral wisdom and connect with the indigenous spirit of the “Great Sacred Motherland of Europe” – a term I first heard from activist Lyla June. 

This longing for reconnection was the impetus to create a program last year called “Songs of Mother Europe”, which features song carriers from all over Europe who still carry the old songs. In the past year we have had over 500 participants in the course, which speaks to me of a collective impulse to remember and preserve ancestral wisdom.

This “Ancestral Songs & Stories of Scotland” course has been created for the purpose of connecting those of Scottish heritage, and anyone deeply drawn to these lands, with some threads of ancestral wisdom that are still living in the landscape and the people.

Scroll down to see the knowledgeable song-carriers, storytellers, and Scottish culture-bearers that we will have the gift of learning from! 

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“Our songs travel the earth.
We sing to one another.
Not a single note is ever lost and no song is original.
They all come from the same place and go back to a time when only the stones howled.”

~ Louise Erdrich


Who Is This For?

Those who feel drawn to connect with the ancestral traditions of Scotland

Those who wish to learn old songs and hear old stories from these beautiful lands

Those who are inspired to connect with ancestral wisdom and remember the old ways

Program Overview

Through the songs and stories shared by our guest teachers, may the living reality of earth and ancestral belonging be rekindled within you.

 

Classes are on Thursdays @ 10:30am PDT/6:30pm BST

Week 1

18th May

Power of the Word and Faery Lore

w/ Dougie MacKay

Bonus 1

Tues 23rd May 

Intro to Scottish Gaelic 

w/ Michael Newton

Week 2

25th May 

The Gaelic Song Tradition

w/ Christine Primrose

Week 3

1st June

Deepening into Storytelling Bonus call

w/ Dougie MacKay

 

Week 4

8th June

Gaelic Songs of Love & Longing

w/ Sine McKenna

Week 5

15th June

Community Share 

 

Bonus 2

Tues 20th June

Solstice Sound Ceremony   

w/ Lana Lanaia

Week 6

22nd June

Jacobite Songs

w/ Gillebrìde MacMillan

Week 7

29th June

Gaelic Indigeneity and the Cailleach

w/ Michael Newton

Week 8

6th July

The Spreading Out of the Packman’s Bundle

w/ Griogair MacAllein

 

 

Week 9

13th July

Oral Myth

w/ Seoras (George) Macpherson

 

Week 10

20th July

Gaelic Songs of Scotland 

w/ Margaret Stewart

 

Program Deep Dive

Many may have forgotten the old ways, though gratefully there are those still keeping the skills and songs alive, and others of us who are relearning them.

May our time together help us to remember our own motherland.

Week 1

Power of the Word and Faery Lore w/ Dougie MacKay

Dougie is a native Highland storyteller with a passion for tracking key aspects of ancestral cultures through mythology, lore and story. A professional storyteller for over 12 years, he has been mentored by some of Scotland’s finest seanachies, seeking modern applications for these timeless tales.


His recent show ‘Animate Lands’ allowed a deep dive into the Fianna cycle, gleaning aspects of the older animistic culture once thriving on these islands. It was described as ‘a fresh and joyful take on Celtic lore and Scotland’s landscape’. On his Myth as Medicine course, he explores a cycle of northern myths with a group of students, tracking the treasure within each tale and offering exercises to journey with each story and touch the medicine within.

Week 2

The Gaelic Song Tradition w/ Christine Primrose

Christine Primrose was born and brought up in  Carloway, on the Island of Lewis and  has been singing for as long as she can remember. 

She has toured in America, Canada, Australia, Ireland and  Europe.  She is Head of Gaelic Song at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, Scotland’s Gaelic College on the Isle of Skye, where she teaches short courses and full-time classes on the BA (Hons) Gaelic & Traditional Music Programme. She has won many awards for  her singing, amongst them ‘Gaelic Singer of the Year’ at the Traditional Music Awards in 2009.  She was inducted into the Scottish Traditional Music Hall of Fame in 2017 and earlier this year was awarded an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List for “Services to Gaelic Music, Culture and to Education  in Scotland and internationally”.    

Christine has recorded a number of CD’s  and  has recently released an album of unaccompanied traditional Scottish Gaelic song ‘a masterpiece, every note and every syllable here is a note of grace’ – Angus Peter Campbell.

seoras_3-1

Week 3

Oral Myth w/ Seoras (George) Macpherson

Seoras Macpherson’s stories come from family traditions passed down through many generations in Skye and Argyll.  These include stories of the epic heroes Fionn and Cuchullin, and tales of fairies, water horses and the seal people.  He has also gathered many legends and historical stories about the early Saints, the Jacobites, the Clearances and the two World Wars.

Seoras tells his stories in a poised but natural way, allowing the mood of the story, whether sad, humorous or mysterious, to lead the audience. He is at home in schools, community centres, ceilidhs and festivals, and is an enthusiastic contributor to workshops, conferences and publications on many Highland topics.

Seoras tells stories on the sites where the stories occurred; on hill or moor, by the sea, river or loch, continuing an ancient tradition of Celtic storytelling.

Born in Greenock in 1933 and brought up in Ardnamurchan, Seoras worked in the West of Scotland for many years before returning to his father’s home country in Glendale to commit himself to storytelling and writing. Seoras Macpherson is a founder member of the Scottish Storytelling Forum.

Seoras will share Oral Myth: Stories that were never written down, called myth, yet are rooted in true events. 

Week 4

Gaelic Songs of Love & Longing w/ Sìne McKenna

Sìne McKenna (Shee-nuh) was born and raised in Montreal, where she was immersed in the traditional music of Gaelic Scotland and Ireland. By the time she was twelve, her greatest aspirations were to study the Gaelic language, learn a few Gaelic songs and live in Scotland.

All three came to pass. Although she now lives in Glengarry county, Canada, once the Highland heart of Ontario, she is devoted to sharing the legacy of her ancestors. As a singer, teacher and performing artist, her life’s work is to pass on the beauty and wisdom of her people, through story and song. As she has always been drawn to the songs that speak of loss and longing, these have become her main focus.

Sìne will share Gaelic songs of love & longing, with an emphasis on emigrant songs.

Week 5

Gaelic Songs of Scotland w/Margaret Stewart

Margaret Stewart (Maighread Stiùbhart) is a renowned Gaelic singer from the Isle-of-Lewis in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland, with a career spanning approximately 30 years and three studio albums to her name. She is a native Gaelic speaker and has a great passion for the songs and culture of her homeland.

As well as her musical performances, in collaboration with some of the cream of Highland and Irish musicians, she is also in demand as a mentor, teacher and lecturer on various themes of Gaelic song and related history. Margaret has amassed an impressive repertoire of songs and a goodly number of those relate to the music of the great Highland bagpipe. She has recorded two seminal albums with pipers Allan and Iain MacDonald  (‘Fhuair mi Pog’  and  Colla Mo Rùn’) and a solo album (Togaidh mi mo Sheòlta) on the Greentrax label.

Margaret will take you on a journey through many forms and themes of Scottish Gaelic song, spanning hundreds of years; touching upon history, myth and legend as well as love, loss and the social function of songs.

Week 6

Jacobite Songs w/ Gillebrìde MacMillan

Gillebrìde is from Milton in South Uist, an island in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland.. He comes from a family with a strong Gaelic background. Gaelic is his first language and Gaelic songs and traditions were always an important part of family life.

Gillebrìde stars as Gwyllyn the Bard in “Starz Outlander” where he regales those in Castle Leoch with traditional Gaelic songs and tales. “Air Fòrladh / On Leave” is Gillebrìde’s second CD. His first “Thogainn Ort Fonn!” was released in 2005, and he has also sung on CDs entitled‘“Na Seòid” and “Home to Argyll” – which are a collection of the songs of Ethel McCallum.


Week 7

Gaelic Indigeneity and the Cailleach w/ Michael S Newton

Dr Michael Newton earned a Ph.D. in Celtic Studies from the University of Edinburgh in 1998 and was an Assistant Professor in the Celtic Studies department of St Francis Xavier University in Nova Scotia 2008-2013. He has written a multitude of books and articles about Gaelic culture and history and is a leading authority on Scottish Gaelic heritage in North America.

In 2014 he was given the inaugural Saltire Award by the St. Andrews University Scottish Heritage Center (of Laurinburg, North Carolina) for his “outstanding contributions to the preservation and interpretation of Scottish history and culture.”  In 2018 he was recognized with the International award at the annual Scottish Gaelic awards in Glasgow, Scotland. The book that he co-edited with Wilson McLeod, An Ubhal as Àirde / The Highest Apple: An Anthology of Scottish Gaelic Literature, was awarded with the Best Gaelic Non-Fiction Book of 2020 by the Gaelic Books Council of Scotland. He was Advisor Historian for the video documentary Voices Over the Water (2023).

Michael established the online Hidden Glen Folk School of Scottish Highland Heritage in 2019.

Michael will be sharing about framing indigeneity, especially from a Gaelic point of view; a brief overview of chthonic female divine beings in Gaeldom. In-depth explorations of the Cailleach figure, including stories and songs

 

 

Week 8

The Spreading out of the Packman's Bundle w/ Griogair MacAllein

Griogair (Greg Dawson Allen) is a tradition bearer and active revivalist in keeping all cultural traditions alive. Fluent in the dialect of the North East and the Scots vernacular, Greg is also an advanced learner in Gaelic. 

As part of the arsenal of Storytelling; Greg introduces natural elements such as stone and gnarled wood for igniting the imagination {rhythmical and visual} — albeit in or out doors. Griogair describes himself as: “A guide – and through using our senses and imagination we explore, freely, unharnessed from discriminatory and cultural restraints, to finding ours and other stories to share.”

Much of his material is meticulously researched from obscure, lesser known or ephemeral sources and ensures their accessibility to people of all ages and abilities. He always adapts stories and structure of the workshops and sessions to suit the individual or group needs.

Since 2020 Griogair has guided’ Story Walks’ incorporating the title of ‘TELLIESPERIE’: {Scots dialect for ‘Story Teller’}, as a business title, relating and sharing the folklore, heritage, culture and natural history of the Highlands within the rugged yet varied landscape of Assynt, North West Sutherland. This arises from his background in the oldest tradition of oral story telling which Griogair has performed to audiences in a variety of locations.

Griogair un-ravels the verses inspired by the ‘Makars’ and ‘Word Smiths’ and lays out the contents, line by line, ‘furrow by furrow’ to discuss why the understanding and relationship with the landscape was so important to countless generations.
 
How they embraced the elements of nature and learned to create the words of the Story, Song and Incantation used to provide the ‘hearting’ between the stone walls of the Bothy and the Sheiling.  Making sense of a proper ‘ snorral’ of misconceptions.
Michael Newton

Bonus 1

Intro to Scottish Gaelic w/ Michael S Newton

Michael  will be joining us for a second class to teach an introduction to Scottish Gaelic. He will share some insights into the nature & history of the language, and teach us a few basic phrases, as well as pronunciation.

Bonus 2

Summer Solstice Sound Journey w/ Lana Lanaia

Lana lives in the Scottish Highlands and is a musician & sound healer known for her ‘crystalline voice’ and ‘music that infuses the heart’. She tends the earth, and creates healing spaces through her music & offerings. 

Lana’s inspiration flows from her deep love for the Earth; of wild landscapes, forests, mountains, rivers, oceans, sacred sites, and the stars. She has and continues to learn from indigenous wisdom keepers and ancestral traditions, exploring how we may reawaken and heal our relationship with self, Nature and our starlight origins.

Lana will share a sound journey, weaving soundscapes, voice, song, crystal bowls and instruments, with a simple ceremony for honouring Litha ~ Summer Solstice. 

Simple Pricing

Program commences thursday 18th May

Pay In Full

Pay in full for:
$ 295
  • 8 LIVE Workshops on Zoom
  • 2 bonus sessions
  • Weave with a network of like-minded folks
  • Connect with ancestral songs & stories

Payment Plan

Pay in installments
$ 108 x 3
  • 8 LIVE Workshops on Zoom
  • 2 bonus sessions
  • Weave with a network of like-minded folks
  • Connect with ancestral songs & stories
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Frequently Asked Questions

This offering is happening online through Zoom, with teachers joining us from several different countries.

Yes. They will be recorded and sent out soon after each class.

No. The nature of the content delivery is that you purchase the entire course.

You will have access to the recordings for one year from the start date of the course.

No, all levels are welcome.

No. There will be a Q&A time during each call, though no one will be “put on the spot”.

No. Due to the delivery of course content, all sales are final.