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Yuletide Wanderings – Elen of the Ways

Yuletide Wanderings – Elen of the Ways

Witchraft the house of twigs ThoT Obeah Yule Winter Solstice

“Your growing antlers,’ Bambi continued, ‘are proof of your intimate place in the forest, for of all the things that live and grow only the trees and the deer shed their foliage each year and replace it more strongly, more magnificently, in the spring. Each year the trees grow larger and put on more leaves. And so you too increase in size and wear a larger, stronger crown.”
― Felix Salten, Bambi’s Children”

“That night she dreamed of the deer. Strangely, the animal was holding her. She cuddled close into the soft fur and touched and kissed it gently. In the morning her pillow was wet with tears.”
― Julie Andrews Edwards”

 

The woods on a day like today are gloomy. The air is damp and cold, the sky a blanket of grey, making everything seem darker despite the early hour. And yet this is needed. I enjoy the festive period, the sparkle and glow of it all, the food, the drink and the merry making with my nearest and dearest and yet sometimes I just need this. The cold damp air on my face. The scent of the forest. The sound of the birds and the trees, of twigs snapping underfoot.

I often think the glitz and glamour of the season is a masquerade, one where we try and disguise what comes after. You hear so much about Yule marking the return of the light and yet for many of us in the northern hemisphere, the months following this one, January and February are the coldest, the bleakest. During those times, it isn’t always fun to be outside. Sometimes it is needed, but still, it seems much easier to stay tucked up indoors.

But right now though, the woods provide a respite from the busyness of preparing for Yule. It allows me to connect more deeply with the cycles of the season for we are a part of nature too, as disconnected as we may feel at times. 

There are deer in this wood, red deer. I’ve only ever seen them a few times, usually when I’ve been alone, like I am now. The thought of them makes me yearn for them once more and so I slip from the track and take a narrower one. When you learn to read the land, it speaks to you, reveals its secrets. Where once you saw a gap in the grass, you now see it as a pathway created by small critters. A closer look still reveals it is used by rabbits. Narrow tracks through the woods are deer trails, often mistaken for overgrown tracks and I take one of these now and my mind wanders to thoughts of Elen of the Ways.

She is one of those goddesses about which not much is known and I like this. To me this unknowing seems like the secrets of the forest. Look a little deeper and you may find a little more. Some say she is an ancient British deity, some go further and link her to Wales but the truth of her is fleeting and just when you think you have grasped some essence of truth, it changes into something else.

Elen of the Ways is associated with deer, more specifically, reindeer. She has antlers and perhaps it is this that links her to those deer most associated with Yule, the fact that the females of the species have antlers as well as the males. As such, Elen is a strong female deity. She is associated with pathways and tracks, most notably the migratory tracks of deer and so she is a goddess to call upon when you feel lost, when you need guidance upon your path or simply when, like me, you wish to escape the festive mayhem abound at this time.

Yule is the perfect time to connect to the spirits of land including Elen of the Ways. They are quieter and more subdued than other times. And at this time of year, we too must take our cues from nature. We must practice self care even when it seems we just don’t have time because of everything we must get done. It is when we feel like this that the need is greatest of all. Yule is the perfect time for boundary setting.

As I make my way back home, I smile to myself. It doesn’t matter that I didn’t see any deer  this time round, I can feel the presence of the spirits of this place. Somewhere a twig snaps and I smile to myself. Perhaps Elen walked with me after all.

However and whatever you celebrate this season, I hope you have a good one.

“She has a memory of trees and fields and nothing more.”
― James Thurber, The White Deer

“Live bold, without fear. This is life amongst the deer.”
― Katelyn S. Bolds

“Often when I imagine you,
your wholeness cascades into many shapes.
You run like a herd of luminous deer,
and I am dark;
I am forest.”
― Rainer Maria Rilke

 

  • Author Posts
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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