Elder Mother and the Wild Hunt: Winter Symbolism to Embrace


"It is often told that, trailing behind the Elder mother on the Wild Hunt, are two companions locked in a perennial struggle: the oak and the holly, lords of the growing and fading light, engage in another battle during this time of year. It is now that the oak defeats the holly, and opens the door to longer days (oak’s ancient name, dur, from which druid is derived, literally means “door”). The holly’s berries appear, a red reminder of the blood shed by the defeated tree, in the same way as the oak’s blood is shed and appears in the blossoms of St. Johns Wort during the midsummer festival. But if you have access to some holly wood, legend says that burning it in your fireplace during the twelve days calls the Wild Hunt to you, and also can give visions and revelations of what’s to come as winter moves into spring. Many myths circle around the yule log, and what types of wood are burned during these days that are set aside from the regular monthly calendar. All of them serve to honor this “time apart”, and it may be a wise idea to keep a fire burning, if you can, even if it’s just a candle flame that passes from once candle to the next, undying, on your family’s hearth.

If the moonlight is right, I enjoy wandering outside over snowy trails, late at night, during this time of year. Take walks with those you love, and try to find places that are a bit removed from the day-to-day. A warm mug of elderflower tea in hand, you may find yourself overtaken by the Wild Hunt – if you’re lucky. Regardless, know that the wild ones are watching over us still, undaunted by our fear and unconcerned that some call them “demons”. In the days of the oak’s return, may you find some wild time to bring back to the domestic corners of your life."

—Guido Masé
(For more, check his post at urbanmoonshine.com)