Introducing Elen, Wild Goddess

ElenShe is the Lady of the Wildwood.

Hidden in the shadows of the trees, she watches you with eyes millennia old. You may catch a brief glimpse of her, and then she is gone, flitting silent as ghost amidst the snowy boughs, disappearing in a heartbeat.

She is the heartbeat of the wood, of the wild places, of heathland and moorland. She dances under the moon in star-filled skies, her dance exhilarating and free. And in the blink of an eye she is gone, lost in the mist that slowly curls over the land in eloquent drifts.

She is called Elen. Not much is known about her – she seems to have escaped the history books and academia of the human race. She knows this, and it pleases her greatly. You cannot know her without seeking her out, in the wild places, in the darkness and in the light, in the heat and in the cold. She is to be experienced, not to be read about.

She is an antlered goddess, her antlers showing her free nature spirit. Her hair is long and red, often with twigs and leaves entangled – sometimes plaited back in a long braid down her slim back. Her limbs are white – they glow in the shadows and shine in the moonlight. Her green eyes, full of mischief, hold the secret of the Ways.

She is Elen of the Ways, of the trackways and paths that cross both nature and the human soul. She is a physical deity – you must put one foot in front of the other if you are ever to know her. If you are lucky, you can find the ancient pathways she had trod, leaving her energy behind, enticing you further, deeper into the heart of the wood, where the mysteries lie.

Follow the footprints – in the snow, in the mud, in the sand. The cloven hoof of the deer will lead you to her. They are her children, they are Her. Like the deer, she is grace and strength, she is trusting and wary, she is capable of great stillness and explosive action. She is curious and wise, and she will beckon you further in if your heart is open.

Not much is known about Elen, a patron goddess of mine. I seem to be attracted to deities who have little written knowledge about them – Nemetona, goddess of sanctuary, is the other to whom I have given my heart and soul. Nemetona is a holding deity – she creates a space where we can simply be – Elen is a wild deity, running naked over the heather in wild abandon.

I’ve always known Elen, though I did not have a name for her. I’ve always known and felt her spirit with me, deep in the woods, wherever I am in the world, eyes watching me. She is strongest here, but I am sure that she is strong elsewhere in Europe – so many countries to visit and learn about. But here, in the east of England, where her children, the deer, run free is where I have found her. This is where I have come home, literally and figuratively.

More and more people are finding out about Elen – a friend of mine does an Immerse in Elen Retreat once a year, which is gaining ever increasing popularity, as well as a Reunion for previous attendees.
The group on Facebook for Elen of the Ways has 360 people and counting – more and more she is becoming known. But she is a deity that must be experienced – not talked or read about.

And so I would encourage you – if you feel your soul spreading out, your nemeton relaxing when deep in the heart of the wood, or out among the wild places where the deer roam, that is where you can seek and, if you are lucky, find Elen. Look for the flash in the shadows at sunset, the glimpse of an antler. When you have found Elen, you will know it, and be forever changed.

Photo from http://raniamaria.eu/blog/tag/antler/

To find out more about my writing, please visit my author page at Amazon, where you will details on the No.1 bestseller, The Awen Alone: Walking the Path of the Solitary Druid, as well as new releases such as Zen for Druids and my upcoming book, The Crane Bag: A Druid’s Guide to Ritual Tools and Practices available July 2017.

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51 thoughts on “Introducing Elen, Wild Goddess

  1. Reminds me a great deal of Flidais! She sounds wonderful.

    I have the same problem, attracting deity that so little is talked about. Nemetona, Flidais………. but the up side to that is that you get to know them with no pre-concieved notions.

  2. Do you know a Goddess called Gerda, Jo? She is Frey’s Wife in the Norse myths. A Jotun godess, her name means ‘to guard’ and she is somewhere between Elen and Nematona, dancing the balance of the wild places and the sanctuary. She is the boundry, the walled garden, rather than the wild utguard (Elen) and the space inside (Nemetona). She too is intentionally childless and her sacred herb is the pennyroyal. She is a healer and herbalist, another godess of whom there are only fragments remaining. I think she too likes it that way. Like me, she seems to value solitude above most else.

    • I have read about Gerda, but not in any great detail (probably because there aren’t any!) – these insights I find fascinating! I’ve always loved Skadhi – for any goddess that snowshoes or skis is pretty awesome in my opinion. It’s that free spirit, that says “I’ll do what I want to do no one can dictate to me” that attracts me! I love these wild, solitary, independent goddeses… x

  3. This… just blew me away. A few years ago, I had a dream about an antlered forest-woman who gave me a gift, and she continues to appear in my dreams every so often.
    Honestly, I can’t even begin to tell you how deeply this resonated with me, on countless levels.
    Thank you for letting me know her name.

  4. Interesting – especially because I have had occasional brushes with a deer Goddess of the land. But she appeared differently to me – fair haired and not antlered. Laughing – almost always laughing – with leaves in her hair. I feel that she’s very connected to the land near my old home as opposed to in other regions. I’ve often wondered if she is Flidais. Now, with regards to deer, the local spirit seems more of a Cailleach – a forest hag with a herd of deer.

    • I do wonder – it wouldn’t surprise me if deities changed their forms to best suit a relationship with us, much like we must change in certain ways to get to know them! And indeed – there are local land spirits who take many forms – my previous home I came across the spirit of Fynn Valley, which was a woman in white, with long dark hair and black eyes – fey and beautiful, a real sovereign deity.

      • Certain deities do seem to change their form… The way Brighid looks to me is different from the way she appears to others I’ve talked to. Perhaps they rely on our minds to give them some familiar form?

        In my travels, I have definitely felt different “personalities” in the land. Some are more dominant, others demure, but they’re there when you stop and listen!

      • Indeed – I remember and episode of the tv sitcom, Dharma and Gregg, where Dharma is in hospital, praying, and her spirit guide shows up. He asks her what she’s doing, and she says she talking to whoever will listen. He asks “Ah, so you are communicating with the Great Spirit. And you are doing all the talking?” Too often we forget that we must also listen. x

      • What a great show… I had forgotten about it. I wonder if it’s available for streaming anywhere… So true. Listening is such an important social and spiritual skill.

  5. As a devotee of Bhearra/Bui, one of the Cailleachan of West Ireland, I can relate to the experience of working with goddesses about whom little is known. For me it’s an empowering experience. I have to trust myself and my instincts, and the goddess herself, if I want to know her. Thanks for the post! I have a grove-mate who works with Elen. She seems fascinating.

  6. Whoa! I’ve dreamed of her too all my life. It sends shivers down my spine to find out that there are so many women and men who have been dreaming of the Antlered Goddess without knowing who she is.

  7. I know that this is an old post, but I just found it while researching Elen of the Ways. 2 years later and there’s still not much about Elen out there. I found out about her when a saw a statue of her on Amazon. I was captivated by the idea of her, as well as her appearance. There’s just something familiar to me about her, but I can’t quite put my finger on it. I’m new to the pagan ways and I’ve had a hard time relating to any goddesses, that is until I found out about Elen. I truly down to her. I usually want to learn all I can about things, but the idea of getting to know a Goddess for yourself is quite intriguing. Thank you so much for this post.

  8. I find myself drawn to Elen and want to know more about her-your post really touched my soul! If what you say is true that you have to find her not read about her, how do I do that? I myself am placed in central Minnesota in the US. Where can I find her? She reminds me of Cernunnos as well.

    • Hi Corina – getting outside, anywhere, is a good start. She isn’t necessarily only found out in great expanses of forest – I’ve found her in the middle of Colchester town centre, here in the UK! As you’re working in America, I would suggest the best route to tracking her down would possibly be through ancestral lines, if you’re family is originally of European descent. You could also find if there are any native deer goddesses of the land that you are currently living on, and perhaps try to establish a relationship with them instead of Elen, if you can’t reach her through ancestry. Best of luck! x

  9. Since I was 14 I’ve added one bew art piece to a series titled “Deer Lady” / “Horned Goddess”- all of them featuring a brunet or black haired woman with green eyes and stag antlers. It wasn’t until this year that I even heard Ellen’s name (though I admit to questioning her validity due to the lack of academia, but regardless…) Talk about a bit creepy?

      • That would certainly be one way of looking at it! Could you potentially point me towards any Academic sources? I know you said they were few / little, but I’d love to see any that do exist if you can point me in their direction 😀

      • Can I ask what either of their qualifications are for consideration? Or their foundations for their theories / belief that she was a legitimate Goddess?

      • I’m not sure anyone can have special qualifications in order to follow/commune with a goddess, or any deity really lol! For me that’s too close to a hierarchal organised religion’s scheme of things 🙂 Both are practicing priestesses for many years now in their tradition, and have inspired many others through their work. Sam works as a Priestess of Elen, and Elen as an Awenydd. As far as authenticity is concerned, as there is no written documentation that Elen was a “legitimate” goddess, we can only go on archaeology, place names, and mythic/folk tales. As well as UPG (Unverified Personal Gnosis)… We have to be careful not to confuse authenticity with validity, especially when it comes to working with certain deities whose stories haven’t been written down by anyone. I think we have become far too reliant on the written word to validate things in our society… x

      • No, of course no one has to have special credentials to comune with the divine. But they do have to have certain credentials when claiming to be some of the only people who have information on a Goddess that (I apologize) seems very…. Convenient and manufactured in multiple ways. Especially given some of the information I /have/ managed to find on her thus far.

      • The thing is… When you are claiming the existence of a primordeal paleolithic era soverignty goddess with antlers…. Archeological and academic evidence is important. Authenticity /does/ equal validity Imo when it comes to whether or not what you are calling a legitimate and prexisting Goddess is… well… actually anlegitimate prexisting goddess. I, personally, am going to continue relying on the written word of verifiable sources because I respect them and the fact that theu have access to more information and education, and would therefore know better than I do. Sure they are not infaliable, but I’ve had far less luck with Pagans than with academica when it comes to valid archeological and historic religious claims.

      • I think your situation has been experienced by many who wish for more academia within Pagan religion – you’re not alone in that opinion, for certain! It’s been a question of debate for some time, especially between Reconstructionist groups and others…

      • It’s not that I promote Revivalist or Reconstruction over Eclecticism, etc. I really could care less how you worship and who. What I care about is whether or not what you are calling a “paleolithic soverignty goddess” was actually “a paleolithic soverignty goddess” and not something conveniently.made up, or which is not founded in any legitimate factual and archeological evidence. There is a difference, imo, between worshiping whatever and whoeve you want, and using false etymology and archeology (or worse: none at all) in order to incorrectly elevate a goddess which never actually existed as far as history is concerned… And quite frankly, I have had enough of the later within Paganism as a whole- along with its penchant for dismissing academics because it doesn’t validate their happy feelings -shrugs-

      • Ah – I understand now, and I do have to agree to a large extent! So many terms are being used loosely, and not being considered or defined, backed up or researched or even used in their correct meanings. Therefore, interpretation and validity come into question. I feel another blog post coming on – you’ve inspired me! 🙂

  10. I do apologize if I seem a bit skeptical and slow to believe wholly. I’ve just had enough “Irish Potato Goddesses” in my time to make me prefer validated (or at least cross-examined and peer reviewed) academic claims and research- as opposed to potentially dealing with a modern day Margaret Murray… Especially considering this is the first I’ve heard of “Elen of the Ways” after 10 years of searching for the figure that has occupied my UPG for over 12 years. That isn’t to say that she is not legitimate, but the lack of academic information does raise my concern a tad- a bit doubly so given my preliminary research into the two individuals you mentioned.

      • Forgive me, but I doubt that is my purpose here. I have no education nor knowledge in that field. Unlike some people, I understand when I am not quallified to make claims or act as authority on a subject I’ve no legitimate trainiing or study in (please note that this is not a dog towards our current subject matter, but rather Paganism’s penchant for revisionist history and other similar falsities in general. Paganism, legitimate academics, history, and truth have jot really been friends since the early-mid 1900’s- and that is an undeniable fact which continues to make me all the more skeptical of any unsubstantiated claims made by a community member).

      • Is is not possible to educate ourselves? I would ask: when the training isn’t available, and there is no one to turn to, can we not do the work ourselves? It’s an interesting debate. As a Druid, authority for me (considering words such as author, for example) is not found in humans, but in nature as a whole. We can certainly learn and gain knowledge from human and other-than-human beings, research what we know, but authority? I’m not so sure. Or have I missed the point that you were making? Have I missed the mark? x

  11. This is truly incredible. I have been embracing aspects of paganism and learning more about goddess archetypes since a spiritual mentor of mine published a book with channeled goddess archetype artwork and meditations. I’ve found so much richness of depth and meaning in exploring these divine figures (but I’m digressing…! ).I was just asking Mother God if there was an overarching goddess archetype that I would benefit from consciously connecting with at this time. And I received very clear imagery of an emerald green clearing just before a patch of woods with a beautiful little fawn and a robed woman standing nearby. I couldn’t make out the woman’s features clearly, but her essence was distinctly connected to nature – gentle, but wild and powerful and emanating so much light. The very next morning, I stumbled upon a goddess painting online, and what do you know: it was Elen! I had asked for clarity on who this goddess was that appeared to me, and I got it in a flash.

    I’ve been doing all kinds of online research trying to learn more about her, and your article is a beautiful communication of her essence. I’ve been feeling the pull to the deep woods for years now. I suppose my story is one of disconnect from the natural world for the sake of intellectual endeavors through various levels of schooling (and a move away from our woodlands here in the northwoods of Michigan, USA). But as a child, I soaked up all the goodness that the lakes and forests had to offer, spending many summers in a beautiful hardwood forest. My soul is calling me back to that now, so it seems only fitting Elen would be a patron of mine (add to that the fact that my new partner is Green Man/Cernunnos to a “T” and it all makes perfect sense!). Many blessings, Joanna! Looking forward to checking out the rest of your site on my journey toward a deeper understanding of paganism and reconnection with Mother Earth 🙂

  12. Hi Joanna. I came across this site by chance, though I am reading one of your books at the moment (The Awen Alone). I have been interested in and reading up on pagan spirituality for some nineteen years now. However, for the last eight months I have been experiencing spontaneous interactive visions, for want of a better description. I say interactive as I haven’t just seen them but been there in them. In hindsight none of them seem to have been dangerous, though one was quite unpleasant and in another I was actually ‘rescued’ by a friend. I wasn’t actually with her as she lives in Northamptonshire and I live in Yorkshire. I was online with her at night when the experience began. At one point I went into a semi-trance like state and I was totally absorbed in what I was witnessing. I became almost oblivious to ‘real’ life and at this point my friend suddenly found she had a direct connection to both myself and my vision. She was scared I was becoming trapped there and literally physically ‘pulled’ me out. What’s more I felt her pulling me and had the feeling of being pulled upwards diagonally through thick sticky water and was physically gasping upon returning to my normal reality. Research on both our parts seems to link that event to Hekate.

    I have averaged about one event per month since then, though not on a predictable monthly basis. And there seem to be links to four goddesses involved in the different events, Hekate being one of them. As time has progressed my spiritual path seems to have evolved along solitary Wiccan shamanism, and the friend who rescued me has been sure for some time now that I am exhibiting shamanistic qualities and abilities, not just because of these random experiences but because of my basic nature, caring about people less fortunate and caring about nature and so on.

    Anyway, I’m being long winded. The purpose of this message was originally meant to have been about the four goddesses involved. On another occasion I was looking at pagan pictures online when when of them began communicating with me. It was a painting of Brigid, her lips suddenly began moving and I could faintly hear, as if in the distance, a regular chanting, keeping in sync with the lip movements.

    So that was a link with Brigid. Needless to say, since these events I have been avidly reading up on the goddesses concerned, now owning six books on Hekate alone.

    But the other two were the most intriguing, and have proved to be the greatest pull, and these two goddesses were Elen and Nemetona. The mere fact that they are little known and therefore more difficult to research just creates a stronger pull on me.

    And just in case you’re wondering, I gave up drinking alcohol 11 years ago and I don’t take drugs. Since these events began occurring regularly I’ve looked back on my life in more detail (I’m 63 next month) and realised that throughout my life there have been a whole series of strange, inexplicable events, approximately every seven years. They have all varied enormously in nature and each time I’ve just shrugged my shoulders and put them behind me, until now. Finally, I’m beginning to join up the dots. And the whole thing is an intensely fascinating experience.

    I’m enjoying The Awen Alone very much by the way. Could you point me to a site which lists all your books please?

    • Hi Kevin – wow, what amazing experiences you have had! I hope that you are able to continue on your journey as you are now, with the strength of heart and courage, and also with the help of good friends! It would definitely seem that the gods are also calling to you – may you find good, deep relationship with them all.

      To find out more about my writing, you can visit my website at http://www.joannavanderhoeven.com, where there is a bibliography that lists all of my work. I also have an Author Page at Amazon. Thank you for your support! x

  13. Hi Joanna. I’m just wondering if there’s a limit on the length of messages that can be left on here? I ask as I’ve just written a long message (about six or seven detailed paragraphs), filled in my details and then clicked the ‘Post comment’ button. But the message doesn’t seem to have transmitted and has been wiped.

    • Hi Kevin – I personally vet all comments before they go up, to stop any spam from showing up on the page! I’ve been away for a few days, but your comments are now up and replied to. Awen blessings, Jo. x

  14. Hi Joanna, I stumbled on your page via a google search about Elen. I have been living a more pagan existence for almost two years now and was browsing statuary for my altar last week. I came across an Elen statue that I found beautiful but skipped past, not knowing much about her. None of the other goddesses looked quite right for me so I stopped looking foe the time being. Then, last night, I had a dream and all I can remember about it was the goddess Elen’s name being repeated over and over. After doing some research I connected her to the fact that I have the most profound spiritual feelings among the forest. This has happened on the West coast of the US and in the forest I have visited in Scotland. Now, I think perhaps Elen has been trying to speak to me? Thank you for your lovely write up, I look forward to doing more research. xo, Lauren

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