Tuesday, August 31, 2010
Getting Antlers: Flidais and romance revisited
Flidais Painting by Tammy Mae Moon, for sale at Moon Spiral Art
Like most tarot practitioners, (and now beginning auger), I constantly deal with the question of relationships with my clients. Women and men are seeking better relationships: better communication, better sex, better commitments, healthier patterns. All Good Stuff. And as noted before, in my post on Maman Brigitte, I try to unravel romance/pornography myths and stereotypes for my clients, to help further those healthier relationships we all desire.
And I have found another Goddess/Deva/Angel/Spirit to offer in this quest: Flidais, from the Ulster Cycle of early Irish literature. Flidais pops up in the written record of early Ireland: sometimes she owns deer she milks like cattle, and is often depicted with antlers (take that Cernunnos!), and she is variously listed as mother to a host of multiple mythological heroes and heroines. She is famous in the Ulster cycle for her affair with King Fergus Mac Roich, who needed to bed 7 women at a time to find satisfaction unless he slept with Flidais, who alone could satisfy him herself.
Hop about the web and you will find modern Pagans and Celtic Reconstructionists listing her as a patron of animals (rather an Irish Artemis), a patron of love and sexuality, and a Goddess of the wild and forests. It is her depiction with antlers and her connection to deer that piqued my interest: a Celtic deer Goddess? I needed that! My own first exploration into my own totem animals left me with one I have worked to understand, and yes you guessed it, it is deer.
Loosely, in many traditions, deer is associated with gentleness (who, me?), innocence (what?), an openness and sensitivity to loving and kindness (eek!), and conversely deer can represent an ability to gently assert one's self against the unrealistic perceptions and expectations of others (ok. I'm down with that one.) In a tarot reading, beyond totemic associations, deer usually means a need to be open, loving, gentle, with others and oneself, and often a need to connect with children, wilderness, forests. (Ahh, again, getting to areas more comfortable to yours truly).
However, despite the wildfound deer jaw I keep on my desk, I have done very little with my own relationship with deer, never knowing how to take this supposed inner gentleness and loving. I have, also, tried most carefully to explain that barrier in myself when working with animal totems and clients.
Flidais, however, had me sit up and take notice like that dog side of myself. A deer Goddess with antlers, clearly sexual, connected to wildlife and mothering and forests. Yes! I can get this. Flidais has been a huge connector for me to relate to my own totem, and as I've shared my finding with clients all summer, I have seen a respective sense of kinship for them - women and men.
For clients who are dating, or in a rough patch of a relationship, the issue of open loving (sexual and otherwise), being gentle with others, holding one's innocence after so many hurts and struggles with either dating or a partner, all of these are challenging to do. I'm not gonna tell someone who is internet dating to just go out and be trusting and loving, nor would I say this to someone struggling with a relationship. Yet Flidais, deer Goddess with antlers, offers a new strategy, and I admit I find it fun and exciting.
Be a wild Goddess, loving, sexual, mothering, open, gentle, --and carry your antlers with you as well. Outside the romance realm I am finding this advise really helpful as I return to school in a science field, where I feel out of my depth and my sister and fellow students mostly come from the "hard sciences" fields I have spent a lifetime eschewing. Hmmm, maybe I should have embraced that deer totem sooner, because in this "hard science" (do they have to keep saying that?? I have to work hard not to giggle. . .) world I am now entering, I am coming across as this warm and nurturing and out of place woman, and really I have no intention of turning myself off to fit in. I just wear my Flidais antlers and realize I can be a scientist my own way, my way.
In the dating and relationship realm this can work as well. Most the women and men I know want to be gentle and loving, want to be open and caring, and at the same time don't want to be endlessly hurt in patriarchal cycles of romance and unhealthy relationship patterns. Well Flidais antlers work here as well. On a date, struggling with a partner, all these areas are places where antlers of protection can stand with loving and gentleness. Flidais is a lovely model of that old "assertive not aggressive" feminist, with a bigger layer of wild woods, wild Celts, and wild sexuality.
If Flidais works for you, invite an antlered hind into your world today. Light a green or brown candle, watch for deer along the roads, support the Nature Conservancy or an area wildlife center. Place some deer images around your home, or in your car or bag. Sit and be still, find your inner deer, and grow some antlers on her and yourself.
If you find yourself drawn to woods and forests, just remember, it is Flidais calling.