The Antlered Deer Goddess

I love how with each turning of the year, I discover more and more of the deep mythic heart of the world. In so much that on surface seems mundane and superficial in what I perceive as the post-modern world, are truths that are powerfully present — as if in sleep or hibernation, or awaiting the time, like King Arthur and the knights in a cave, when the people and the land have most need of them.

That time is now.

And so, in various areas of my life — and perhaps you are finding it in yours — I discover power, beauty, mischievous and awe-inspiring magic.

Here as our wheel round the sun tilts furthest toward the longest night, I am finding our world rediscovering who Santa’s flying reindeer really are.

Gift of the Antlered Deer Mother - art by Jane Valencia

Gift of the Antlered Deer Mother – art by Jane Valencia

For one thing, the antlered reindeer in winter are female. And Santa himself, in shamanic garb, may — in this lore — represent a sacred power quite different from what is portrayed today. For the mythic and ancestral truth at the heart of Santa’s flying reindeer please read this beautiful and world-opening blog post: “Doe, a Deer, A Female Reindeer: The Spirit of Mother Christmas.”

As a child, crazy about deer (still am), my favorite Christmas story was that of Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer. As a young adult I strode away from anything reeking to me of commercialism around the holidays. Eventually I became aware of so much majesty that moves through our dreaming at this time of year, in our participation in the circling of the year, and embodiment of earth’s energies as we tilt away and toward the sun again. As ancestral myths and sacred knowings resurface, I feel myself turning the Sun, and the Soul of the World with eyes and heart that once again know wonder and awe, and the child nature that is ready to fly with the deer in the starlit longest night sky.

As we approach the Solstice, what magic are you discovering or rediscovering from an ever-deepening heart-space?

For more Deer Magic, please visit:
An Antlered Advent – Art Contributions
Seven women present art, musings, and more about their relationships with the ancient Deer Goddess and the Deer. I am honored to be included. You’ll find photos by me there, plus a link to “The Abbots Horn Dance” — Celtic harp music by Spookytree, my duo with Deb Knodel. At that link you can listen to and, through the end of this month, download the track for free!

Finally, I finish here with an illustration. Wild Sweet Blessings to you in this Season of Light!

The Year She Grew Her Antlers - art by Jane Valencia

The Year She Grew Her Antlers – illustration by Jane Valencia

 

 

The Shortest Day

Newbery Award-winning children’s author  Susan Cooper and her The Dark Is Rising sequence deeply influenced my youth into adulthood.  I may very well owe the fact that I’m a bardic harper to the way her stories echoed within the myth of my soul!  You can read more about my journey with The Dark Is Rising series in my article, “An American Harper In Wales”, first published in The Folk Harp Journal, and now beautifully displayed on Eldalamberon.com.

Years later, when I’d begun to celebrate the Winter Solstice, and was performing Celtic Christmas concerts, I discovered the poem below, written by Susan Cooper for (I believe) The Christmas Revels, a magnificent community-based production that celebrates the ancient and mythic roots of many of the season’s folk traditions. I love this poem, and hope you enjoy it too!

Loom Of Trees – photo by Jane Valencia

The Shortest Day

by Susan Cooper

So the Shortest Day came and the year died
And everywhere down the centuries of the snow-white world
Came people singing, dancing,
To drive the dark away.
They lighted candles in the winter trees;
They hung their homes with evergreen;
They burned beseeching fires all night long
To keep the year alive.
And when the new year’s sunshine blazed awake
They shouted, revelling.
Through all the frosty ages you can hear them
Echoing behind us – listen!
All the long echoes, sing the same delight,
This Shortest Day,
As promise wakens in the sleeping land:
They carol, feast, give thanks,
And dearly love their friends,
And hope for peace.
And now so do we, here, now,
This year and every year.
Welcome Yule!

 

 

Another Poem For the Solstice

Were you able to view the eclipse last night? We passed a magical time in our front yard, watching the Moon move into the Umbra, the shadow of the earth, with the clouds from the coast moving in. The Moon was obscured and revealed by those dragon clouds. When the sky was clear, that blood rose Moon was a beauty, and all those winter stars — even light-obscured by the Bay Area — shone bright. Saw some shooting stars.

I can’t think of a more lovely way to have celebrated the Solstice than to have shared that time with my kids, the three of us lying down on the ground (!) in our front yard, and musing about this and that, and watching the magic of the Moon.

Here is another poem/lyric that I’ve set to music but have yet to record. I wrote it during the holidays of 1996, when Comet Hale-Bopp came through. The chorus was actually poetry my older daughter spoke and I notated (I often wrote down things she said as if they were poems — they sure sounded that way to me!).

I have memories of this House of Grace (as I call it), where I currently live from when I was a child, as it is the home my grandparents had built and lived in to near the end of their lives. These memories (chalk-drawings and gatherings) mingle with my grandparents’ ghosts, and my own astonishment at the Christmas season here in the Bay Area, where roses can bloom in the middle of winter ….

Visitation

by Jane Valencia (c) 1996

Longest night
to shortest day
Deo gratias” in your gray-rose exhale
Far traveler,
you grace us
this day
this angel day

Mary, Moses, a winged griffin
heavenly guardians on Our Lady’s Way
you nod to us
yellow daisies
in your alabaster hands
bright as God’s eye

chorus:
Are the butterflies
flying home
in their own little churches

There is the moon
growing through the trees

I’m looking at ancients
up in the sky at night
I wish I might
I wish —

Remembered voices of a midday meal
tasted on a sloping lawn
Chalk drawings reemerge
bright smudged, silver-tailed
And Grandma Bea, with her young girl’s smile
she hangs God’s clothes to dry

Enter the mist-garden
Grandpa Jay tends the newborn rose
winterfall petals float
into our celestial pond
One star, one eye
revealing the night sky
deepening the water-velvet dream.

Chorus.

We stroll the avenue
It’s Pleiades jeweled
constellations mirrored in the Christmas lights
There! Our messenger —
the blur takes form
eyes
ears
mouth

She’s going to a place
where she’ll be happy this winter

Dear creature, we bid you farewell

You are a rush of light
after an age of ice and dust
We welcome a new night
after this shortest day
There was an ancient
up in the sky at night
Southward she flies
she flies —

Solor Earth — stamp art by Jane