Our ‘Art’ issue for our Antlered Advent series, featuring:
Like the reindeer herds guided by the Ancient Deer Goddess and the more modern Elen of the Ways, I follow the energetic paths that sustain me. Moving along these ancient paths, these ley lines or dragon lines, I move along the edge and in the shadows, finding the threads of memory which birth meaning in this time. I am as old as the stone mothers and as new as the sickle moon making her first appearance. I am a Way-Shower, a Memory-Keeper, a Path Weaver and words, ideas and themes – musings on deep calls to the deep feminine - come to me from an ancient primordial place called forward to be birthed into this space and time.
In this time of the Winter Solstice, this time of that first glimmer of light after the descent into the darkness, I come to remind you of your strength and your resilience. I come to guide you to those paths with footprints that match yours, those paths that will offer heart during the days to come. I come to remind you of ancestral ways and rituals for celebrating the offering of new life stirring in this season, ways and rituals that will hold you in Her warmth and offer a hearth to sit around as you and loved ones tell stories... remembering and re-membering.
Like the female reindeer who wear the crown of the Ancient Deer Goddess... the Old Antlered One... Elen of the Ways... the deer standing in the dark glade watching, listening with antlers reaching to the light of the full moon and the returning sun... the deer who stands sovereign in her knowing and connection, grounded in ancient ways and memories...we too can embody this energy and way of being.
I am Sovereignty and in this season of light and life, I come to remind you of yours.
Arlene Bailey, © 2018
Arlene Bailey is a Visionary Artist, Writer, and Mystic with a hunger for the wild, the ancestral, the deep end of experience so as to understand that which is the most hidden of all mysteries… the soul of woman. As a Certified Facilitator of the Art of Allowing Process - using the canvas as a portal and ritual as the language of the soul - she takes women on a journey to remember their ancestral lines and awaken their own unique soul connection to the Deep Feminine.
2. Jannica Honey
My name is Jannica Honey, I exhibited When The Blackbird Sings in March here in Edinburgh. I photographed women in nature, every full and new moon and only during twilight. I based my shooting schedule on the moon & channeled the earth’s natural rhythms into the work, explored my own connection to womanhood & femininity. Check out the press release for When Blackbird Sings
When I worked on my project I met Kristina Turner who later on become my Antlered Mother. She was attached to the blackbird story and we ended up collaborating together. Kristina, is the mother who are now ‘The Crone’ who is supporting other women with their journey. We all have that power, we will just need to listen withing, stop for a few minutes, hear the blackbird and feel our feet to tap in to that ancient energy that flow through all of us women.
3. Virginia Walters
The message the reindeer totem carries is faith. It’s about learning to take a leap of faith into the unknown and placing one's trust in the process of life rather than an outcome. In a sense, the focus becomes about the journey. Similarly, the journey one takes following a cancer diagnosis could be considered comparable in essence. The ongoing monitoring, treatment and uncertainty which often follows a cancer diagnosis is comparable to the message Reindeer brings – that is, to trust the process.
The antlers represent the ‘fight’ which is often associated with cancer. Whether that is the fight which the surgeon faces navigating through a long and difficult surgery when things don’t go as planned, the nursing and hospital staff’s consistency and kindness or the caregivers who support their loved one, they each face their own battles. Together they fight the good fight.
The sculpture was deliberately made without ears. Gynaecological cancers are often referred to as silent killer as symptoms are often subtle and are not often heard until they reach a more advanced stage.
The colours used are representative of women’s gynaecological cancer and each flower represents a different form of cancer.
Teal = ovarian cancer, fallopian tube cancer
Peach = endometrial, uterine cancer
Blue and white = cervical cancer
Pink also = cervical cancer
Mauve = vulva cancer
Purple = all gynaecological cancers
Yellow = hope
The Reindeer was sculptured by hand using paper, wire, tape and plaster. The cover is hand crocheted using 100% merino wool. Patterns used are traditional granny squares, African daisy motifs and freeform crochet to bring it all together.
4. Jane Valencia
I've loved Deer all my life. Although I grew up in a suburb in the heart of what was to become Silicon Valley, I managed from time to time to see the deer that lived in the nearby hills. I kept a tally of deer sightings, and wished I could get out of the car (most of my sightings were at 55 mph on I-280), and join them out in the golden fields and oak woodlands.
As a child I read every book on deer, fiction and fact, that I could find in the library. My absolute favorite book was Bambi - A Life in the Woods by Felix Salten. Felix Salten was clearly a naturalist, portraying the lives of the deer and the forest creatures in careful detail, a far cry from the Disney version. I literally read Bambi more than fifty times (I have book logs to prove it!). I wrote stories and drew comics that basically copied Felix Salten's deer books (besides Bambi, there is Bambi's Children, and A Forest World).
Fast-forward to my teen and young adult years, when, in my study of and passion for Celtic and other folklore, and medieval and Renaissance literature, I became aware of the deer in other forms. The white stag that leads one into the Otherworld, the doe who is pursued by the hunter in the English ballads, a metaphor for the romantic chase. I embroidered the deer into the costume I wore at the Renaissance Faire. My running with Deer continued through song, poetry, myth, and wherever I glimpsed kin* (explanation of word usage to follow!).
When I was 35, my husband, daughter, and I moved to a semi-rural island in Washington State. Suddenly the deer were everywhere! I followed deer tracks, wandered kir trails, and became still and watchful whenever I encountered kin. I began to pursue deep nature immersion practices, and this led me to observe the deer as closely as I could, and to mimic kin -- practicing Deer Ears to gather sound from every direction, moving with the varying motions and gaits of a deer, and -- as one growing into a love of the plants and herbalism -- finding my own way to browse in the wild.
Deep nature connection and soul work inevitably leads to a tangle of shadows, beauty, grief, and breathtaking heart in one's inner forest. How does that wildwood tangle become a medicine bundle?One evening I arrived in frustration at my greenwood sit spot. So much had shifted in my mythic terrain that I felt that, in another place and time, I might have received a new name, a sound essence that would witness and ground my fledgling understandings, and, like a small bird, coax me from a new place of knowing to reenter a soul service to the children, to my people -- human and more-than-human kin, the Sacred, and Earth.
But that village with elders and name-givers did not exist for me then -- not in a way that I perceived, anyway.
"If I lived in a different place and time," I told my sit spot companions, Douglas-fir, Red Cedar, and Red Alder, who I called the Three Sisters, "I'd have a new name. A name like ...." I peered into the twilight, trying to imagine what kind of name I'd receive, what kind would embody the sense of who I was and what I more fully longed to be. In that moment, the encompassing Forest dropped a name like a pebble into the pond of my heart. I found myself finishing my own sentence with the words: "... a name like Singing Deer."
The shadows vanished. My heart overflowed like Spring waters, I gazed in wonder at the greens-and-black, the bright night of Forest welcoming me as kin. "Thank you, thank you ..."
Many reasons existed then as to why that name spoke truth to me. I continue to discover more.
In my nature connection work with children and adults, I teach Deer Form, in which we listen and move through the landscape as if we are deer, the better to experience the smells, sights, feeling, slow grace, and comfort of being at home with Earth. Becoming the Deer is to grow in relationship with the plants. For the Deer who pass kir time along the landscape, or resting within, the green world and Earth are a relaxed extension of who and what kin are.
To be like the Deer -- to practice Deer Medicine -- is to engage in the deepest listening. The deer are not always wary. Deer play or groom one another. In the mating season, the stags engage in single-minded pursuit. This past fall, a group of women and myself shape-shifted into Deer, and followed actual Deer (!) off the human trail and into a wooded hillside. Following the Deer has led me to understand the nuances of sacred plant medicine that I now consider to be Deer medicine. Kin have led me to listen for music when I am within a magical moment in nature (and magic is in nature, always). I call the melodies that come to me during these times "Deer Songs".
I have given Reiki and song to a fawn who lay dying. I have heard fawns bleat, and stags snort. I am trying to use ki/kin pronouns for beings of the living earth, as proposed by Robin Wall Kimmerer, a nature writer, botanist, decorated professor, and enrolled member of the Citizen Potawatomi. It is for the illuminated world that the Deer have shared with me that I do so.
The Deer feel safe around our home, and my family often finds we can look in the four directions and spot deer in the far field, deer in the chicken yard, deer ruminating near the plum trees, deer eating the fallen horse chestnuts.
This past spring I walked out our front door to find this very young fawn sleeping by our walkway.
When I see the deer, when I am near kin, I know that I'm on track with my life. With the Deer as a strong physical as well as imaginative presence in my life, my ten-year-old child self is ecstatic with this sweet truth that our world is one of real magic.
Maybe because I now associate with other Deer Women (thank you, Jude!), I actually feel like I have grown my antlers. Really, I can feel the energy of them! My grown daughter, not knowing I sense these energetic antlers, sometimes pauses in fun as she passes me to make her fingers into antlers on top of my head. In my work with kids, I now use the name Singing Deer, and I am both moved and delighted to hear them and my colleagues call me by this name.
And so now, at the end of this narrative deer wander, you know a little about the illustration up top: "The Year She Grew Her Antlers." How have you grown your antlers (or the equivalent) in your psyche, and what marks this year's growth for you?
Hunters and the Deer have a sacred relationship in our indigenous past and present. In the village of Abbots Bromley, in England, an ancient tradition exists in which Morris Dancers bearing reindeer antlers and with rows of bells binding their ankles, engage in a midwinter ritual dance of the hunt. As the Celtic harp duo Spookytree, my music partner Debra Knodel and I recorded the tune used in this dance and known as "The Abbots Bromley Horn Dance."
You can listen to our recording of The Abbots Bromley for free here -- and, during this month of December 2018 -- even download it for free .
Many dreams of the Deer to you during this merry midwinter and time of sweet enchantment!
Jane Valencia loves helping young and old alike to join in with the healing magic of the green world around us, and to discover through curiosity, creativity, and wonder what nature and imagination reveal about our truest nature. Jane has recorded several harp CDs, published a children's fantasy novel, written numerous articles and blog posts, teaches weekly at a nature immersion program, and is the host and producer of a streaming radio show, Forest Halls Celtic. She is author-illustrator of Paloma and Wings: a Kids Herbal Comic, due out this Spring 2019. Please visit Jane at her websites: Foresthalls.org or SingingDeerHealing.com.
(first image) Photo: Jane and her Antler Harp. Behind her are her wire-strung clarsach (Ancient Gaelic-style harp) and her nylon-strung Celtic harp. Jane once experienced an "antler harp" in a dream -- an African "bow" harp with two necks upon which the strings are wound, the necks resembling antlers. The first harp ever was probably a hunting bow: the string plucked while under tension makes a pleasing sound. It is easy to experience the mythic connection between the Deer and the Harp.
5. Jenn Campus
Winter Solstice Dreams
Twenty years ago I dreamed of a woman…
She beckons to me from the trees deep in the forest and I am compelled to go to her. Her hair is bright as flames and tendrils of it rise up in the wind, caressing her face and sticking to and winding around the tree branches above her. Her face and hands are pure white like moonlight and her eyes are dark and wild.
As I move closer, I notice that the tree branches framing her head and face are not in fact from the trees surrounding her, but are actually a part of her, like some great rack of antlers. In fact, they may be antlers, disguised as branches, but I can’t quite make it out.
The energy around her is electric, and I can feel it prickle my skin. She is a wild woman to be sure, someone who has cultivated a synergy with the forests and the trees. Someone who has spent much of her life there, away from humans, lying down with the deer at night and following the flight of birds.
“Some call me the mother of these forests and the creatures who live here,” she says. “ I am mother to some yet this forest was not always my home. I was sent here by my own grief to heal and I have long since aligned myself with the Good Folk who live here and are in fact true mothers and fathers to this place. And you are one of mine, my child many generations removed, yet I claim you still”.
In a flash of understanding, I realize she is connected to my female ancestors and I know my place in her story, her place in mine. Then it is gone, all fading away as the dawn starts creeping through the windows; her image etched into my mind, her flaming red hair, and dark, wild eyes.
I know her now as Elen. She dangles her carrot of wildness in front of me, forcing me to seek out nature wherever I am and most of all to remind me that I am an animal too, a creature of nature, an important truth often forgotten in these modern times where we are expected to be everything at all times, but rarely true to our natures, part of the animal kingdom and beholden to its rhythms.
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 and strengthen me. Her tree is the birch and it is my favorite. Slender yet strong, it can almost bend in half during a winter storm, but it rarely breaks as an outcome. The birch is a pioneer of sorts, digging its shallow roots into ground that has been damaged, with the intention to re-wild the land, at least a little bit.
Elen knows the wild plants and how they can heal, or harm. She knows the secret places and the trails of the deer. Her steps bring life and fertility to the land and forest. She is my teacher, and asks that I teach my own children the knowledge she shares. She reminds us of our innate wildness.
Ten years ago, I had another powerful dream. This time, a God named Wuldor gifted me with an ancient relic, a magical shamanic deer mask. In the dream this mask allowed me to shapeshift into the form of a reindeer and travel to another world where I was told the origin story of this lesser known god, and how he is connected to Elen. I was asked to write a fantastical tale incorporating their stories and the fundamental truths therein in a way that would capture the hearts of humans and get them to care about the wild places again. A tall order.
The tale, Dreams of Ýdalir is a result of years’ worth of devotional work with both Elen and Wuldor in which I weave together their stories, and my own.
Both Elen and Wuldor are associated with this time of year, Elen with her connections to the ancient reindeer goddess, and Wuldor, to the Green Man. Both are associated with the wildwood, and deer, especially reindeer. Reindeer are the only deer where both males and females grow antlers. Male reindeer drop their antlers at the beginning of winter, while female reindeer retain their antlers until after they give birth in the spring. The stories of reindeer that are prevalent during the winter holidays are modern tellings of much older stories, tied to the landscape of northern places where Yule has its roots, and to the sacred feminine, since only female reindeer would have their antlers at this time.
Drawing on ancient Winter Solstice celebrations, and the symbolism of these antlered figures, we can find sacredness, meaning, and connection at this time of year without all the commercial trappings that can often cause anxiety, and dread and disconnect us from an important truth. As a descendant of my northern European mothers, it helps me to remember that at one time, all my ancestors down the line celebrated this sacred festival, it is our birthright, and it is time to reclaim it. We can create lasting memories and traditions for our own families that draw on this truth, and keep these traditions alive so that our children can share them with theirs and so on down the line so that the light never burns out.
Jenn Campus is a best-selling author who weaves the genres of fiction and non-fiction to create a rich tapestry of connection between myth and matter, ancestors and descendants. As her family’s hearth keeper, she draws on the traditions and wisdom of her female ancestors and the sacred duties of motherhood to build a legacy for her children, their birthright. She ties the sacred duties of home and hearth with ancient stories and folklore to help strengthen the never-ending line from her ancestors, and the lands from which they came to her descendants.
FREEBIES: Join her at Jenncampusauthor.com to receive FREE samples of her books
Dreams of Ýdalir, and A Guide to Celebrating the 12 Days of Yule.
Dreams of Ýdalir Sample includes:
50+ pages, including a dozen gorgeous illustrations, straight out of my dream! “Where Norse Mythology and The Legend of Tam Lin meet, this tale, set in the lowlands of Scotland and the Otherworld brings untold legends to life.” Download the free sample here: http://bit.ly/DOYSample or go to my website to download it
A Guide to Celebrating the 12 Days of Yule Sample includes:
Your FREE downloadable PDF will contain 30+ pages of Ritual, Folklore, Activities, and Recipes to help you create lasting memories and traditions with your loved ones this holiday season!
6. Pegi Eyers
"Shapeshifter ~ Being Anwynn". Mixed media, 2018.
"In the rich folklore of the British Isles, and my own Scots Gaelic tradition, there are ancient narratives of shapeshifting between beings in Earth Community, or at least the acknowledgement that our Ancestors were not necessarily human. I find the mystical poem "The Song of Amergin" as mentioned by Elen Sentier in Following the Deer Trods fascinating, as it defines our sacred kinship with the creatures and elements of the natural world. "All of the things that he has been, enable Amergin to know how their lives are, how they think, how they feel, how it is to be them. It’s a form of shapeshifting and the ultimate way of learning for the awenydd." (Elen Sentier) These animist skills may be (for the most part) lost in the modern world, but my vibrant and whimsical mixed-media piece "Shapeshifter ~ Being Anwynn" evokes the bright mystery of a Wise Woman and her transformational powers. Earth Community shares common forms, patterns and symbols, and my art also pays homage to the Wheel of the Year and the timeless solstice celebrations that sing to the Celtic soul."
Pegi Eyers is the author of the award-winning book Ancient Spirit Rising: Reclaiming Your Roots & Restoring Earth Community, a survey on the interface between First Nations and the Settler Society, and the vital recovery of our ancestral earth-connected knowledge and essential eco-selves. www.stonecirclepress.com www.lyssanda-designs.com
7. Cat Shepard
Drawn from a journey exploring the Celtic goddess Elen of Ways, this Antlered One came to guide me during a time of darkness in my life. December's descent into darkness and the rejuvenation it offers remind me of my connection with my sacredness within and the Earth beneath my feet during the busy winter holiday season.
Winter Solstice is the gate that marks the return of the waxing light. It signals a time of celebration, rejuvenation, and life in the depths of the darkness. The antlers on the standing stone are a symbol of the deer's gifts and a relationship with the celestial signs of the seasonal shift towards the growing season in the cold of winter.
Cat Shepard: Shamanic Artist & Priestess exploring the creative & sacred Mysteries with Art, Myth, and Ritual.