The Antlered One by Laura Smith-Riva


The Antlered One first came to me in the dreams. She is a wise woman, a protector of the pathways, a teacher and a healer. She is the mystic on the other side of my amazon/warrior. She is deeply mysterious and lives in the liminal spaces awaiting those who seek her on the path.

I have encountered her many times on my journey. She came after a dream where a young deer had its antlers brutally cut off by a man. In the dream she came to my door and offered me the large antlers of an adult deer carved with magical and sacred symbols and images which she had discovered on her land. This moment represented for me the return of that which had been cut off. In so many ways, we cut off sacred and holy parts of ourselves in order to survive in a world filled with traumas and challenges, to fit in, to make do, to take care of others at the expense of ourselves. Our creative life withers and we become like the walking dead, moving through life on a stream of expectation, fear, numbness and unrequited desire all fueled by the many lies we come to believe about ourselves and the world around us. Many will never escape from this inertia, often disguised as a whirling dervish of doing.

Some, however, are called or thrown into the journey, the journey back to soulful life. The Antlered One is waiting. She is a profound archetype with a history dating back to ancient times, perhaps Paleolithic times. In the Celtic pantheon she is known as Elen of the Trod and her roots trace to northern Wales and a time when humans were in relationship with reindeer there. Female reindeer have horns as do the males. The Celtic god Cernunnos is the male counterpart.

During my Druid training, she came to me in a vision, appearing first during a shamanic journey and becoming part of my inner grove as a supportive ancestral guide. In this inner sanctum, she stood at the gateway entering the dark grove and as a protector along the way forward in my work. She rubbed red ochre on my belly and breasts, she brushed my flesh with the soft needled branches of the Tamarack. She invited me to lie back in the roots of the great tree and covered me with the softest sheepskin.

We all need succor on the journey. We all need support. We may find support in the world through family, friends, mentors or others, but the beauty of inner support is that it’s always available to us. Building a relationship with this support is so important and must be done during those good times, when we are feeling good. It’s like building a muscle. If we don’t exercise it how can we expect it to be strong when we need it most?

The Antlered One is timeless and ageless. If you look for her, you may find her in dreams, visions and journeys. She may appear in the synchronicity of the deer on the field, in a shell on the beach or a flower in the wood. She is the keeper of the trod, the protectress of the magical pathways, the healer and the divine spirit of the land who knows the hidden trails and traverses of the true heart. She is the guardian of all who journey. May you receive her.


The ReturnĀ by Laura Smith-Riva


Laura Smith-Riva is a Natural Dreamwork Practitioner from the mysterious Green Mountains of VermontĀ