These yule deer invocations are inspired by many threads of story, song, poetry, and folk art woven together. They are both true and untrue, real and not real. They live on the edge of liminal space where the thin line of the dawn emerges from the darkness and the deer forages for the tips of white pine in the snow.
The deer is an iconic part of winter solstice myth, from Rudolph the red-nosed savior to folklore about the deer as the carrier of the sun, to the Scythian fire deer, a goddess in her own right, and daughter of the sun. I have taken these ideas into myself and attempted to distill something modern and useful for now, making art and prayer about this motif. For me, what emerged was the cycle of the hunter and hunted the sacrifices we make to keep our lives going, and the internal strength that comes when you are doing what needs to be done.
Sacrifice is a difficult thing, we often talk blithely about it as pagans, sacrificing incense or alcohol and those are good things. The Spirits clearly appreciate our efforts. However, sometimes it’s the almost invisible sacrifices that mean the most. It’s the parent who takes a third job in order to support their children. The adult child who chooses to move home and take care of their elderly parent. The supportive partner, the true friend, so many ways to sacrifice for the needs of others. It’s a fine line, to be supportive versus being used, and certainly, I’ve personally looked back and wished that I had shared less of my time with some people. But in many ways, that sharing is what makes us human. It is a powerful expression of compassion and love.
It behooves us all to take some time to consider our sacrifices:
- How and what do you sacrifice for others?
- What do others sacrifice for you?
- How can you be more compassionate and giving?
- What gifts could you be giving to the world this year?
Consider if you are asking too much from your community or not enough. If you do have plenty of presents under the Christmas tree, consider helping others. Likewise, take the time to make sure your money or effort is going to worthy causes, rather than doing what is easy and feeling good about dumping some change into the red buckets of Salvation Army’s anti-trans grocery store gimmick. If you are struggling for money or time, it’s okay to ask for help. Take it from someone who has struggled with asking often enough. Recently I read Amanda Palmer’s The Art of Asking, and it was incredibly valuable for me, as an artist who works for my dinner.
Onward to the invocations! Read them out loud or silently, light a candle and imagine it to be the sun as you call on the power of the Yule Deer. If you’d like, you can pick up a print of my painting pictured below, a rendition of the sun deer in a series I’ve done for the whole Wheel of the Year. It works very well as part of an altar to call on the strength of the deer.
Prayer Story of the Sun Deer
Found in Bulgarian, Scythian, Hungarian myth.
Prayer To The Sun Deer for Strength in Sacrifice
The Dancing Goddesses by Elizabeth Wayland Barber