Elena and the Reindeer Goddess by Judith Shaw

The mad pre-Christmas rush of activity has passed and we find ourselves again in the quiet, dark and cold of winter. Winter Solstice, the longest night and shortest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere, occurred last week. With a gain of only a few seconds of daylight each day in the ten days after Winter Solstice, we can take advantage of the stillness offered to seek within ourselves for the seeds laying dormant, waiting to be recognized and nurtured into fruition and manifestation. 

Bright Solstice Night by Judith Shaw

Having just finished all the pre-press and pre-order fulfillment of the first of the Animal Wisdom Oracle decks, now is the perfect time for me to work on seeds of my own – another project that has long been in the works. This project has gotten back burnered every spring for the past couple of years as I seem to need the dark of winter to complete the art. It’s a folk tale inspired by the ancient stories of the Reindeer Goddess. It’s a tale that honors the Sacred Feminine. The story is written and now I have the illustrations to complete. Here’s a little taste of what’s to come:

Elena and the Reindeer Goddess

Just before dawn on a cold winter morning, Grandmother woke up with a smile on her wrinkled face and a feeling of hope in her heart. She had had a dream, one that had come from her ancestors, and from her own deep knowledge. It was a dream of prophecy.

“The Reindeer Goddess returns,” Grandmother whispered to herself.

She threw back her quilts and rose, shoving her cold feet into soft wool slippers, and hurried to wake her granddaughter, Elena.

She rushed into Elena’s cozy little room, then leaned over her and shook her gently, saying, “Elena, Elena, wake up. Quickly Elena, there’s no time to lose!”

Elena opened her eyes and yawned. “What’s wrong Grandmother? What’s happened?”

“It’s more about what will happen,” Grandmother said. “Come, let’s put on our coats and boots and while we walk I’ll explain everything. I need your pure heart, your quick wit, and your strength.” 

Elena and Grandmother bundled up against the cold and stepped outside. They began to trudge through the snow lying thickly on the ground, past little puddles here and there, glinting hard as stone in the light from a million stars.

Grandmother gathered her coat more tightly around her as she began telling Elena the story, her breath puffing out like mist in front of her.

“Long, long ago in the northern lands of snow and ice – the Old World of our ancestors – the Reindeer Goddess was alive in the hearts of the people. It was she who took flight on the Winter Solstice bringing understanding of the power that lies in darkness and of the hope that spring would return.

“Our people knew her as Reinna. Sometimes she was seen as a woman who flew through the skies in a chariot pulled by reindeer. At other times she was seen as a flying reindeer herself.

Flight of the Reindeer Goddess by Judith Shaw

Look for more excerpts over the winter months and discover how Elena helps the Reindeer Goddess accomplish her very important mission of love. The book should be ready for the printers by the end of summer – early fall 2024.

Reindeer are the only deer species in which the females grow antlers. And the females’ antlers are larger and stronger than those of male reindeer. So who was Santa Claus really and who were his flying reindeer?

As our ancestors were well aware of the need for balance, Stag – the male red deer indigenous to the UK – is also celebrated at this time. Stag, who grows a massive rack, is symbolic of the masculine power of regeneration, a messenger from the spirit world and one who leads humans to spiritual enlightenment. Males are called bucks in other deer species.  

The racks found on bucks from other deer species during the fall rut are also impressive. I was lucky to see many mule deer during my Thanksgiving stay in the Jemez Mountains of New Mexico. Deer who wander into town are protected and thus not afraid of humans. This allowed me to get very close to this magnificent buck and capture his photo. He was not at all interested in looking at me so it took awhile to get this shot from just a few feet away.

And finally I’ll share my painting of Stag with you all again.

May the Reindeer Goddess continue to nurture you with her love and gifts of abundance while Stag guides you to spiritual enlightenment.

Judith Shaw, a graduate of the San Francisco Art Institute, has been interested in myth, culture and mystical studies all her life. Not long after graduating from SFAI, while living in Greece, Judith began exploring the Goddess in her art. She continues to be inspired by the Goddess in all of her manifestations, which of course includes the flora and fauna of our beautiful Earth. Originally from New Orleans, Judith makes her home in New Mexico, The Land of Enchantment.

After almost 5 years of work Judith’s new oracle deck, Animal Wisdom Oracle, has just come out. You can order it here. Experience the wisdom our animal kin have to offer.

The Celtic Goddess Oracle Deck is still available. Order your deck here.

Author: Judith Shaw

Judith Shaw, a graduate of the San Francisco Art Institute, has been interested in myth, culture and mystical studies all her life. Not long after graduating from SFAI, while living in Greece, Judith began exploring the Goddess in her art. She continues to be inspired by the Goddess in all of her manifestations, which of course includes the flora and fauna of our beautiful Earth. Judith has exhibited her paintings in New York, San Francisco, Mytilene Greece, Athens Greece, New Orleans, Santa Fe NM, Taos NM, Albuquerque NM, Houston TX and Providence RI. She has published two oracle decks - Celtic Goddess Oracle and Animal Wisdom Oracle and is hard at work on an illustrated fairytale - Elena and the Reindeer Goddess.

13 thoughts on “Elena and the Reindeer Goddess by Judith Shaw”

  1. Judith – oh I love the paintings so much – and the photo of Mule deer – they too are impressive animals that I was fortunate enough to see frequently while in NM….. love that story…. bring her back…. the feminine just seems buried these days or raging against men – more extremes.


  2. Such a beautiful story and illustrations! I love that both Grandmother and Elena, two generations, are bringing their special gifts to the story. I’m so glad you are expanding into fiction to accompany your amazing art! I can’t wait to read more!


    1. Thanks Carolyn,
      I really had no idea how to write in the fiction genre. A big thanks to my awesome editor, Cait Johnson, who guided me through the process with great tips and insights.


  3. Keep going with the story! Love the reindeer/woman painting!

    This so reminds me of an assignment in which I had to write my myth. When I finished writing it, I created a painting and is now part of my 52 Diva series. I often thought to expand on my myth story….but I say to myself…I am a painter, not a writer.


  4. I wonder. Judith, have you read “The Chucki Maid and the Moon Man?” n important character in thee myth is the Reindeer that she rides. I’ve also gotten a lot out of reading George Caleb’s book, “Caribou of the Barren-Lands,” especially his photographs & chapter on humans and the caribou from a scientist/naturalist POV. It’s dated–1995–but interesting.


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