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Elen of The Ways – A Yuletide Meditation

Elen of The Ways – A Yuletide Meditation

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The festive season is upon us, fellow seeker! There is a buzz in the air as we look forward to the holidays. Everywhere the eye looks there is a blaze of colour and light. Everything sparkles and shines with gold and silver. The food and drink, along with everything else is over indulgent, over the top. Nothing is too much. Everything seems possible.

It’s easy to get lost.

It’s easy to feel down because deep inside it just all feels fake. When you take a step back, when you turn off the lights, when you look past the cheap glamour of tinsel, glitter and useless gifts, when you’re faced with the cost, financially, emotionally not to mention the cost to the earth, it all becomes another burden. One you can’t afford, or one where the noise becomes too much, or the loneliness too heavy. The festive season can be a drag for some, or even just overwhelming, even for those of us who enjoy the festivities.

Sometimes it can be too much.

As much  I look forward to spending time with family and friends in merriment, sometimes the expectation becomes too much. Sometimes I just want to escape into the woods and feel the real reason for the season. And so I do! The woods are but a ten minute walk from home and beneath the boughs I feel my connection to the earth, to this land and the other beings in it, return. It fills me with a sense of peace and puts everything else into perspective.

And so I offer this meditation to you, fellow seeker. Let it be my gift to those who cannot escape to the woods!  Let Elen of the Ways, ancient goddess of all paths through the wild wood guide you as she does the deer. Forget everything else for a short while and rediscover yourself this Yule.

The Meditation

Before we begin, I strongly recommend you make a recording of this meditation. If you are doing it as part of a group or coven, then you might have someone read it aloud. 

Minimise all distractions. If it helps, then play some soft music. Get into a comfortable position. I always find it’s handy to have a blanket close by should I get a bit chilly. When you are ready …

Close your eyes.

Take a deep breath in through your nose, and as you do, pay attention to the feelings that arise. Feel your lungs fill and expand in your chest. Notice the feeling in your abdomen as your diaphragm contracts and relaxes.

Hold the breath for five seconds and then release, out through your mouth. Again, notice the sensations that arise within yourself as you exhale.

Take another deep breath, again holding for five seconds before expelling. Keep breathing in this way, and as you do, you begin to notice the feeling of relaxation that stirs in your solar plexus. With each breath, notice how that feeling expands through your body, right down to the tips of your fingers and toes and how the confines of the everyday slip from you, how the stresses and worries become less and less until you no longer notice them.

Now let your breathing come naturally, and as you do so, you become aware of your surroundings. You can feel the leaf littered floor underfoot and the cool, clean forest scented night air on your skin. When you open your eyes, you find find yourself standing in a great forest of silver birch and oak and rowan and elder and alder. An ancient woods

The light from the moon, almost full but not quite, unhindered by the leafless boughs, cast the wild woods in it’s soft silver light so that you begin to make your way through the trees.

All around you, you can hear the sounds of the woods at night. Somewhere a night bird, an owl perhaps, calls out, a loud and lonely sound. The trees begin to grow closer together, the scrub more dense, and before long you begin worry that you’ve lost your way. Now the sounds of the wild wood take on an ominous tone as your worry begins to give way to something deeper. 

The ground grows harder beneath your feet and the wild woods takes on a fearsome, alien atmosphere. You begin to wonder if you belong here, you start to doubt yourself. You try to retrace your steps, but can no longer find the path that brought you to this place.

But before the worry gives way to despair, as you turn around and around, almost frantic, trying to glimpse a path in the pale moonlight, a deer startles you by crashing through the undergrowth, coming to a stop  before you. It’s a huge handsome beast, a female you think, for it has no antlers.

At first you think it can’t be real, after all, how did it get here? So quietly and  without alerting you? And it isn’t afraid of you, oh no. Instead it fixes you with it’s large dark eyes before turning away from you and heading down a trail you failed to noticed before. You watch in awe as the deer turns back to you momentarily before continuing along the track. 

An invitation?

With no other way, you follow the trail through the wild woods, sometimes catching a fleeting glance of the deer as the path twists and turns. As you make your way along, the forest opens itself up to you, and you can feel it’s energy. The ground is soft underfoot and springy where moss grows. The soft scent of mulched and decaying leaves fills your nostrils, a comforting scent that hints at the power of Earth. The quiet power of death and rebirth. The knowledge that life comes from death, that all is a cycle.

Before long, the trail opens out into a clearing. In the centre  the deer stands looking back at you, as though awaiting your arrival. As you step into the clearing, the deer trots to the other side and gives you one last look before it disappears back into the forest. 

Though you feel a sadness that this gentle beast has gone, you are grateful that it lead you here, and though you do not know the way out of the wild woods, you are no longer afraid or worried. You call out in thanks to the deer and are about to turn away, when the snap of twigs underfoot catch your attention. You wait, unafraid and watch as the deer re-enters the clearing, though this time it is not alone.

Behind the creature comes a woman. You cannot place her age, for she is young and old all at once. Ageless. Timeless. 

Her hair is long and as red as the deer that led her here, with antlers that rise out from the flaming locks. She is wrapped in pelts and as she approaches you, she unwinds one from herself and wraps it around you. It smells of her, of the wilds and of the woods and is so incredibly warm you shiver and wonder how you didn’t realise it was so cold.

The woman lights a small fire, and summons you over to where she sits, tending the small flames. As you lose yourself in the leaping flames, you begin to grow drowsy. The woman draws you to her, and you lay down, placing your head in her lap. As she runs her fingers through your hair, she sings her story of the wild wood at the winter solstice. And as she weaves her words and melodies, you begin to feel that balance inside of you. You feel at peace, here in this wood, connected to the wilds, to the elements, to the deer and to this woman who seems to embody it all for she is caretaker to the wild woods and those who are within it. For she leads the way, creating the tracks and trails of the forest, leading those beneath the boughs to safety.

Soon the heat from the fire and the soft, sweet song from the deer woman’s lips sooth your soul and you feel your eyelids grow heavy. It’s okay, she seems to whisper to you, all the while her song never ceases or stops, and so you close your eyes, feeling your heart swell with love and peace and hope.

How long you lay like that you know not, for the seconds stretch into minutes which in turn  melt into hours until time becomes meaningless. Feel yourself adrift in the music of her voice as she sings of the solstice, of the balance of light and day. Revel in the stillness of the moment when all the world seems to stand still. Let the calmness seep into you until it fills you. Let the song of the season carry you on it’s swells as it drifts towards quietness and the stillness that will come with the coming harsher months, but that is for later. 

Now is a time of balance, of peace and calmness. Time to relax.

Slowly, you become aware of how her song begins to slowly fade, and the heat from the fire too, but that the feelings of peace and love and hope are still strong within you.

Notice your breathing. Notice the sensations that arise within you as you continue to breathe naturally.

Gradually bring yourself back into the room. Notice the sounds of everyday life.

When you are ready, open your eyes. Have a sip of water and a bite to eat to help ground you. 

Anytime the festive season gets too much, anytime you feel yourself losing your connection to the natural cycles this winter solstice, let Elen of the Ways lead you to yourself.

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My name is Emma Kathryn, my path a mixture of non-Wiccan Traditional British Witchcraft and Obeah, a blend that represents my heritage. A Devotee of Hekate, my witchcraft is what is needed when needed. I live in the middle of England with my partner, two teenage sons and two crazy dogs.
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My name is Emma Kathryn, my path a mixture of non-Wiccan Traditional British Witchcraft and Obeah, a blend that represents my heritage. A Devotee of Hekate, my witchcraft is what is needed when needed. I live in the middle of England with my partner, two teenage sons and two crazy dogs.
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