Elen of the Ways – the return of the hunter-gatherer

Posted on May 2, 2014 in Book reviews, Spiritual living

Elen of the Ways

Forest Sprite by Amy Brown

I love synchronicity, and it’s often been mentioned in previous articles I’ve written. The more you open to it, the more and magically it occurs and I always welcome the universe’s message.

In recent weeks, it’s been the presence of deer that has caught my attention. I love the woodlands, and so we often choose to camp where the trees are plentiful, but in all my life I’ve never seen so many!The first appearance branded on my memory was in Devon, when out for a morning walk we saw a whole herd of fallow deer across a field from us, hovering shyly at the edge of the forest. What caught our eye was the bright white deer standing regally at their head. We stood transfixed, just watching each other for several minutes before they melted slowly back into the trees.

The legendary tales of the white hind, its links with the faerie world and its signalling the beginning of an epic quest, leapt with deer-like agility to mind. From that moment, deer have surprised us when we least expected them – bounding across narrow roads in front of Shadowfax a few times, jumping with an impossibly light spring into our peripheral vision near Avebury, startling some cyclists by exploding over a hedge in Gloucestershire.

They’ve always been moving from right to left, and always in pairs. Just as I felt prompted to research a bit about deer and their spiritual signficance, a couple of friends (quite independently) posted on Facebook portraits they’d painted of the little-known British goddess Elen of the Ways. Message well and truly received, thank you universe! She harks back to our hunter-gatherer days when a huge forest stretched from Mongolia, encompassing Northern Europe and reaching across Canada. Back then, we tracked the deer by their ancient paths, the deer trods, and revered the antlered Grandmother (represented by Elen) who led the herd. The only female deer who have antlers are reindeer, so it’s believed that Elen has her origins in those times when reindeer roamed freely and plentifully, providing us with a source of food, clothing, and tools. The deer must have seemed to represent life itself to our ancestors.

I could see how, in some ways, my current lifestyle is reconnecting me to these ancestors and Elen. We too are having to hunt for and gather our resources – water, food, fuel – wherever we can find them. And you may not think it but at times it can be a bit of a challenge! My pilgrimage to sacred sites is taking me along the ancient trackways that our ancestors used, which also have another purpose as shamanic flight paths; ways to access the otherworlds, otherwise known as ley lines. Our intention is to live more in harmony with the earth, taking only what we need and giving back in return. Right now, we are modern hunter-gatherers.

Elen Sentier in her fabulous little book Elen of the Ways which I can highly recommend (just click the link to buy from Amazon), says that our view of the hunter-gatherer life as primitive and difficult couldn’t be more wrong. They only had to work 15 hours a week, which left them plenty of time for creative pursuits and spiritual endeavours, and they displayed none of the physical and nutritional illnesses that have plagued the human race from the introduction of farming. Since we wild camp and are not wired up to the mains or the Internet permanently, we have to carefully schedule our work on the laptops to make use of limited power and availability. We end up working far more efficiently in far less hours, so are free to enjoy and explore the beautiful countryside we’re in.

As George and I have chosen to turn back towards this nomadic way of life, which may become a necessity as the climate continues to change, I believe Elen of the Ways is offering us her blessing through her deer children. She is emerging from the wild woods again now to remind us of what’s important, and that the life skills and approach that kept us healthy and whole so long ago can do so once more.

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Semele Xerri

Semele Xerri is a psychic intuitive healer, animal communicator, and Reiki Master Teacher. To find out more about her and her services, go to her Work with me page.

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