Art by: Roberto Campus
I have always known her, but have never known what those who have come before me called her, or those who follow her paths through the forest call her today, but I have felt her warm, loving and yet wild energy.
Elen dangles her carrot of wildness in front of me, forcing me to seek out those spaces though I don’t often find the time to do so these days. But she bids me seek the old trees and breathe in their beautiful and grounding manna that is so sustaining, to learn what lessons they have to teach and allow them to heal. Her tree is the birch and it is my favorite. Slender yet strong, the birch digs its shallow roots into ground that has been damaged, with the intention to re-wild it, at least a little bit. The birch is a pioneer of sorts. It grows in the Northern woods, where I feel so much peace.
Elen’s is earth magic. She knows the wild plants and how they can heal (or harm). She knows the secret places and the trails of the deer. She encourages me to walk those paths to find answers to life’s most important questions and to my deepest held hopes and dreams. She offers this to us humans, animals who have forgotten that they are animals. She reminds us of our wildness.
She is the perfect companion of The Holly King (Wuldor in the book). Both are keepers and protectors of the wild places. Both have a love for the plants, animals and trees of the forest. Both have much to teach us about our forgotten wildness, the cycles of life and death and the lessons that can only be learned from the natural world.
Both are associated with deer, especially reindeer. Reindeer are the only deer where both males and females grow antlers in the summer. Male reindeer drop their antlers at the beginning of winter, usually late November to mid-December, while female reindeer retain their antlers until after they give birth in the spring. If Elen, as she is often depicted, is a horned goddess, she must be the mother of the reindeer. That makes me one of her children.
I see her as Lady of the Birches, flame-haired. Her steps bring life and fertility to the land and forest.
When you go deeper and deeper into the forest you breathe in their strength and energy – The Lord and Lady of The Wild Places.
UPDATE: April 2018: I have been writing Dreams of Ydalir for the past 4 years and working with the material for the past 8. It has become a part of me, or maybe better said, comes from a deep place inside of me that I cannot be separated from and it is very steeped in a love and respect for the natural world and the wild places. It comes from years of working with the Gods and their stories.
The parts of the story told from the perspective of the Gods with messages for us today is a result of years worth of personal meditation sessions and devotional work with these figures.
I have seen a strong resurgence of interest in Elen of the Ways over the past year or so, and it validates my own experiences that she really wants her story to be told, and she is ever tied to the wild places. If these types of subjects interest you, you will love my story, Dreams of Ydalir!