Last year you may recall I went on the Elen of the Ways retreat. (you can read about it here)
During my time at the retreat, I sat next to a altar dedicated to a rather sinister looking image of a deer skull masked pregnant woman holding a shamanic drum. This was not Elen, the Goddess I had come to call my patron, but a much older figure and something about her resonated with me.
I asked Suzi, who had painted the picture, who she was and she told me that her name is Cerh. A deer priestess who demanded to be painted. At that point in time that is all I knew about Cerh but I wanted to know more!
Altar to Cerh at the 2013 Elen retreat.
Via Facebook I learnt about a day workshop focusing on Cerh, run by Samantha and Suzi and I booked my space eagerly.
I travelled to Esther's early last Sunday (27th July) and from there we would get a lift with Siân
to the workshop venue.
We arrived on time to Suzi's house and was warmly welcomed by many familiar and new faces. All drawn to to learn about Cerh.
The Temple of Elen was set up in the back garden and a thrill ran through me as I recalled my dedication to Elen in the same space last year.
The altar was set up with two paintings of Cerh and I felt it was quite profound for me as I am pregnant, which is how Suzi depicts her.
Cerh painted by Suzi Edwards Goosec https://www.facebook.com/ArtworkOfSuziGoose
I won't go into too much detail here about the workshop. Sam and Suzi shared with us their thoughts about Cerh and slowly the deer skull mask was lifted to see that she is not a scary as she first appears. Yes, she is primal, reminding us of humanities true roots. Of blood, bone, feather and fur.
She is not a deity like Elen. She is Us. Our ancestor, our past. When the land is all we knew and we lived closely with the Earth, not against it.
During the workshop, we drummed and sang to Cerh. We were taken on a me dative path working to connect with her and we were blessed with a gift. mine was a fossil stone, like an ammonite. The spiral of life.
We broke for lunch and then journeyed on to Epping Forest to continue our own exploration of Cerh.
We stood in a large circle and we each painted ochre on our foreheads using our fingers before going off into the forest.
I went and sat by a tree which was surrounded by ferns. I felt like I was quite hidden from view, like a fawn hiding waiting for it's mother to return.
I sat and sung softly to myself, feeling my baby move inside my womb. I was content. This was much better then work.
After a while we were summoned back to circle by drum beat and as we gathered we all joined in on the drumming and chanting. We were even joined by some yapping dogs!
As we walked back to the car, Esther showed me the stone she had found during her quiet time and I was shocked to see it contained a fossil. Coincidence indeed!
The fossil Esther found in Epping forest. Photo used with permission.
I really enjoyed the workshop day. The other ladies (and gentleman) were all lovely and they all wished me well in my pregnancy. It was suggested that a pray tree was set up so that when I do go into labour, the participants of the workshop could send me love and healing.
photo of the Cerh workshop attendees by Lisa Hill
Cerh is still lingering in corner of my thoughts, next year a whole weekend retreat is planned to discover more but I have a feeling I will be too busy to attended.
To find out more then please join the Elen of the Ways page on Facebook: