By Phoenix of Elder Mountain – Deer Goddess, Deer Woman, Magical Deer Spirit, Hind of the Woods, Elen of the ways and more, are all ancient descriptions of the initiations of the eras of grandmother’s shamanic and prhistory leadership of shamanic cultures. The mystical and magical rites through initiations for women, were through her adoration and connection with nature is sacred. Nature and sacred rituals that are birthed from women, their circles, combined together with soul rites have always brought on the magical deer into her spaces.
Deer woman was on all lands of earth, even though we have so little stories left to share and why I decided to share my first visit from the magical and mystical deer when I was young. The impact of the ancient indigenious cultures of animism and nature of the Slavic peoples and other cultures, weaved and still weave the shamanic rites into some peoples personal lives, into ancient mythology, folklore and even fairy tales.
In some places of real winter solstice rituals and actual shamanic experiences of shape shifting, the deer woman has brought the path to the initiate and not the other way around when we speakmof how real shamans have endured. The symbolic imagery from prehistory or even today’s artists, express Deer Woman through the symbolic acts of sacred art, deer dancing, and deer songs. The Mongolian deer stones are large statues of bird-deer imagery as one, combing two soul attributes into the story of the soul of flight (bird head) into the afterlife. There are only five animals and birds that are in every culture 9n earth and in animisms combinations at the core of prehistory grandmother shamanism.
The magical deer is one of them, and in her singularity, even when she has horns, in its ancient representation, it means both personal sacrifice of the initiate and boundaries as one moves along their path, because deer nourishes the bigger predatory animals. The other images of deer are the great Huntresses of the Moon such as Artemis, who has the imagery of both the Deer and the Owl together. This represents the opposite, rather than boundaries from the predator, it is the actions of hunting prey as the predator in the animal-instinctual ways or the exorcist. The oldest stories of magical flight like the Saami nation, is the shape shifting woman who changes into the deer itself (animism).
Magical Deer Rites, the drum shows the image of the symbolism of Ukraine shamanism
I made a special Talisman in 2017, to honor my forty and last year of initiation which was my completion of a life of karmic purification, wrathful dismemberment and soul sicknesses to purge karma which began at 17 and ended at 57. One straight complete journey that started off with an appearance of the ancient deer on my path, who mysteriously appeared in my waking life so long ago. This week, my apprentice and I were talking about “Elen of the Ways” because he said her name just came to him out of the blue and he had never heard of her before.
Elen of the Ways is one of the original magical deer women of the British and Celtic shamanism, who in earlier times was a deer goddess, a forest guardian and watcher over the sacred waters, streams and rivers. These waters carried the wisdom of woman and her mysteries, connected to the emotional waters of earth. The mysteries of the sacred wells, the underground streams have themselves become a metaphor for the secret initiation of sacred wisdom and its journey.
Elen of the Ways, Artemis, Savd and all the other Deer Goddesses are sacred Guardian of these ancient pathways. She is not a goat horned Goddess as some propose, that was only a pagan addition by the unruly over-sexed Dionysus Cult. But she is the Antler Cult of the prepagan female shamans of the Deer, the Reindeer, the Kokoshnik head-dressed Slavic Grandmother cultures of prepagan Shaman cultures.
The lost Shamanism of the isles of Britain began the day that the Roman Army marched into England around 55 bce, it was then she lost her power and magic. Only visiting initiation women in more private mystical visitations. Just like the higher soul of a woman, visits that maiden, mother or wise woman in the apparition of Mary the Virgin Mother. Once religion took over the belief systems, the projection of the dreaming manifests through the stories of each individual culture. If we eradicate all of those male dominated myths and stories, we get to the pure shamanic culture of prehistory.
My first initiation with the Prophetic Magical Deer
Back in 1987 when I had my first (death) out of body in a very peaceful way, I did not know that was the exact day of the Harmonic Convergence happening around the world, and hadn’t even heard about it because I was so young. It was divine timing and my instantaneous experience had a great impact on me that changed the direction of my life.
It was a very hot August day and I had just mowed the grass and was finishing up some garden work. I was 29 years old, married with a two and four year old, both my parents would soon die the next two years. After cutting the lawn, I sat down on the steps of my back porch to rest and in an instant, I was about thirty feet above our huge oak tree in the yard.
It was my first fully conscious, complete out of body (OBE) and a thought occurred as it was happening “if this is all of me way up here, then how how is my physical body without me”? At that moment a magical Deer began to wonder and walk into my back yard, and I said to myself from way up above the tree…
“There are no deer here in this area” and in a flash, I was eye to eye and an inch away from the Deer’s face. This was in the daytime and I was fully awake in this out of body and she didn’t talk, nor did she telepath, it was pure soul to soul communication with me and she read me all the prophecies that would come into my personal life, and also the collective prophecies of earth. There was so much information downloading into me, that I was just in a state of pure absolute emptiness and nothingness. I never shared these prophecies with anyone all these years except for my dedicated apprentices.
In an instant the Deer was gone and I was fully back in my body. I went inside sort of stunned to get a glass of ice water, and looked at the clock and three hours had gone by. In 1987 there were no computers or information except for books. What happened what felt like just a few minutes but by the clock, three hours had passed by uninterrupted. It was good my husband had taken out the children for the day to his mothers house to visit them for this to be interrupted, of course there are no coincidences.
Slavic Deer Traditions
In Slavic mythology, deer is know as immortal and magical since its beginnings. It is associated with the grandmother and the winter solstice. According to the legends, Deer Woman can lead you to a Dream, or your own prophecy of your future. Often times the Deer is paired with the serpent and the bird, which means from sacrifice in a spiritual way, the soul (bird symbolism) will find its healing (the serpent symbolism).
Deer also is symbolic of the Equinox times of both summer and winter for the Slavic people, and its meaning of birth, life, transition, death and rebirth. In the symbolic sense, the deer represents both the higher spheres and the journeys to the underworld in a shamanic sense. The endless change of seasons gave birth to symbolic imagery of both the black and white dee. Reindeer with a white skin during the summer, shined with some gold, from the sun and sky shining on its coat. Black deer is the time of transition, challenges, death, misfortune, long and fierce winter cold. Those who are shamanic initiates will be visited by one of the two. These are in a spiritual context of the fate at the end of the journey, I was fortunate to have the golden deer visit me, but a life of all of the misery of the black deer, I had both.
Deer usually is celebrated and appears in both the middle of winter and at the end of summer around August. The appearance of a deer with golden horns (Autumn) is very fortunate spiritually for those who are visited.
The Deer also carries the meaning of family happiness and eventual well-being. In symbolism, the Slavic people have deer represented in clothing, as a symbol of the goddess, especially with Mokosh and in many different forms of both folk art and sacred embroidery. There is a legend of Makoshi and the two Deer and the version of Elk and Two Deer. The deer associated with the sacred winter holidays and deer songs. The deer is represented also by winter carols , where it performs the role of a happy Talisman. It is believed that the deer blesses the family and the marriage but this has not been true for everyone, especially those who are destined to be healers or shamans and thus the marriage is torn away because the person must go on a devout spiritual path. In many folk tales, the appearance of a golden-deer at a wedding is for happiness and a long life.
Deer is also always a fertility symbol of rebirth and renewal, strength with gentleness and of nobility, courage and purity – a symbol of the human soul, but also a symbol of the warrior. Deer in the mythology of the Slavs is a Royal animal and was endowed with fantastic features. She was called “wonderful” and “marvelous” and knows how to create different miracles, and speaking in the human language.
The Slavs considered the deer as the personification of their Ancestor (or a visit from the divine higher self animism soul). The deer also carried the souls of the dead into the other world, many of their images were found on the walls of ancient ritual caves. The Russian north preserved the image of a deer in folk art, in architecture, carvings, embroideries and fairy tales. In the Russian museums are the richest collections of fabrics embroidered with patterns, the main element of which is the deer.
The Deer is the symbol of Slavic Goddesses Rozhanits (mother and daughter), giving birth to all life. They were depicted on embroideries in the form of two deer or horned female figures. Images of this horned deity, most likely, decorated the dwellings of the Slavs and the tradition of hanging deer antlers inside the house, perhaps has older roots than we think. Deer symbol of the goddesses Rožanyc. The male deer was not magical but practical because it could feed the village and clan from the hunt and it embodied strength, courage, determination and prudence as a male pagan character.
Celtic and Welsh Deer Goddess Traditions
Sadv is one of the most ancient of their Goddesses. She’s a Deer and Forest goddess who brings magical experiences to the initiate in the form of a deer spirit She’s the mother of the Oisin, the poet, and she’s an earthy creative wise elder with her white hair, blue-grey eyes and scarlet robes. She’s connected to doe, fawn and deer.
Sadv’s creative spirit is the flowing branches of the trees, the mystical pool of water below. In some Celtic legends she appears as a hind, the female shamanic deer and has the gift of speech to communicate.
Jean Markale who wrote the book: Women of the Celts says:
“Sadv becomes a hind goddess, and the story of Oisin her son, is affected by the fact that his mother was changing into a hind and therefor belonged to the other world. He eventually became a poet of divine inspiration who did not die a real death. The Accalam na Senorach (conference of the ancients) a curious 12th century collection of different Ossianic legends, tells how Oisin went to join his mother in the marvellous worlds of the earth of the Tuatha De Danann.
The hind goddess also figures in Gallic and Gallo-Roman iconography. There exists several statues representing a woman with deer’s antlers, notably the one housed in the British Museum; this portrays a seated goddess, holding on her knee a horn of plenty and on her left shoulder the head of a ram. Her face is entirely human except for the deer antlers sprouting from her hair.
Most likely this is an image of Sadv. The Hind of the Woods is the clearest account of the legend of the deer goddess or deer woman (an older shamanic term). This cycle is the most recent of the mythical collections that makes up Gaelic literature. In the loss of woman’s shamanic cultures the sacred hind of woman eventually turned into the stag and the sun cults of man.”
Anyone I have known, including myself who has been visited by the magical shaman’s Deer Goddess or Deer Woman in the real experiential mysticism, has had to make great sacrifices their entire life and endure decades of sickness.
The Shamanic Magical Deer was the very first step to free my soul of the spiritual rites and initiation to guide you to the inner aspects of self purification, and self respect in your healing journey for your souls purification of real karma. Its painful and there is no love, there is only stamina and never giving up, even though the entire world has given up on you.
Elen of the Ways
© by Nessa Crescentmoon, printed with permission http://www.orderwhitemoon.org
In legend and landscape she has many names. In ancient Britain she was Elen of the Hosts. She lives on British Tradition as Elen of the Ways. She is Protectress of the Pathways; whether they are physical, mental, or spiritual paths. She is guardian of all who journey. Elen of the Ways: Myth, Legend, History Through the ages, several Elen’s, Helen’s, and Helena’s have been combined.
In myth and legend Elen is a representative of the land of Britain itself, marriage to whom confers regal status. Most likely a Goddess from a much earlier time who presided over the dream pathways; Elen of the Ways is a culmination of legend, myth, and history.
”Oh lady of the moon path bright,
and Sea-lanes laid by sun’s fair rays,
the Dragon paths from height to height,
and all the hidden holy ways
Oh Lady Elen of the Ways…”
The Welsh Saint day of Elen of the Hosts is May 22nd, connecting her to Spring, around the time of Beltane. Elen also been associated with Olwen of the White Track, She was a beautiful woman of high degree. When she married, her father’s power (and life) was transferred to her husband. She has been associated in recent times with Nehallenia, a Celtic-Norse Godless whose attributes mingle very closely with her own. In Priestess of Avalon, Elen is described by a bard-priestess.
She was said to have been tall and strong, having a love of the horse, and the elder tree was sacred to her. It is also written in the novel that all roads are under her protection, both paths that cross land and the sea. Ancient traders prayed to her for protection.
Elen of the Ways Feast Day August 18
She comes from the region of pagan and prepagan Britain. Elen maybe called upon when we seek to go between the worlds, because she is also the Mistress of the Hidden Ways. The Goddess Nehallenia is introduced in Priestess of Avalon to Eilan and she can’t help but notice the similarities of Elen and Nehallenia.
Sacred to Elen of the Ways is the color Red; Her Seasonal feast is on May 22nd, and her Honoring as a Goddess is on August 18th. Her Talismans are a mirror, water, a comb and sea shells. Direction is the Southeast and her animals are the Deer, Stag, Horse, Dove and Swan. Food served at her ceremony or on altars are the Apple and the apple tree. She is the “Elder or Grandmother” Guardian of all who journey in all the different ways we journey either spiritually or physically.
St Helen, also known as Helena, died in 330 ce was much honored in the west where her feast-day is still celebrated on August 18th. A number of churches and holy wells were dedicated to her in the north of England and a few in the south and south-west of England. In the Anglo-Saxon age and later the Medieval period it became a place of pilgrimage and healing; the water of the well having the miraculous ability to cure diseases and ailments of the body.
Helen’s Well in Eshton, North Yorkshire is a holy well standing in a walled and railed-off enclosure beside Eshton Lane, tucked in between the water works and a wooded area, about halfway between Gargrave and Rylstone – in what is the district of Craven, north Yorkshire. Skipton lies a few miles to the east.
The holy well has been a sacred site, not just since the late Roman period, but long before that when it was Elen of the Ways. However, almost certainly it had been ‘a sacred place’ in the dark ages when the well spring was dedicated to St Helen, the wife of Constantius Chlorus and mother of the first Christian emperor of the Roman Empire Constantine the Great, who was converted to Christianity in 312 ce.
Today the well is still ‘a sight to behold’ with the water gushing forth (often with gusto) into the circular-shaped pool – although the carved stones that apparently lie in the pool are very often well below the mud and water-level. An ancient cross was found opposite the well in the 18th century, but then it went missing:
“The practice regarding water, and in particular a well, as having sacred and healing qualities of the spring, is attested among all ancient spiritual peoples.” Holy wells have their origins in the pre-pagan eras and in England many occur on a number of Roman sites in Yorkshire. With the coming of Christianity the pagan deities to whom the wells were dedicated to, were converted and replaced by a Christian saints — St Helen was especially popular in those early times.
The water issues from a hole low down in the bank below the railings and flows into a circular shaped pool. At the front and sides of this pool (in a curved formation) there are a number of shaped stones that make up the outer perimeter of the sacred pool. Just in front of the point of entry for the water coming in there are ‘said’ to be two carved stones that resemble Celtic stone heads, but these are often covered by thick mud – and therefore not often visible – unless you feel around for them with your hands!
The water goes out into a more modern drain at the side of the wall entrance. In the past devout people used to hang colored rags on the branches of a tree, though this seems to have ceased now. There are records of a chapel existing in Chapel Field, close to the holy well but this has gone.
In the 18th century an Anglo-Saxon cross was discovered opposite the well (John & Phillip Dixon, 1990), but this disappeared. It’s thought the carved stones are opposite of St Helen’s Well, dating probably from the 11th century.
I wanted to mention the book on the “Tradition of the Siberian Deer Women by Esther Jacobson” and The Golden Deer of Eurasia: Perspectives on the Steppe Nomads of the Ancient, by Joan Aruz, Ann Farkas, Elisabetta Valtzbooks.
The Ancient Shaman, the Siberian Woman with stag tattoos:
Phoenix the Elder is a full time dreamer of dream medicines, folk healer, seer, mystical woman and more. She works with changes, transformation stages, the more devoted spiritual paths (the next levels) and shadow issues or ordinary life issues that need attention. If you would like to work with her, please write to Elder Mountain Dreaming @ gmail.com.