Exactly who were the people whose carvings of stunning beauty were crafted with such remarkable skill13,000 years ago? Elen Sentier opens her delightful exploration of shamanism, with an artefact depicting swimming reindeer, indicating a maker with the cultural understanding, time and motivation to produce a work that can only have an artistic and possibly sacred meaning. The beauty and intricacy of the carved mammoth tusk suggests a sophistication not usually associated with those scraping a living during the last ice-age. With this fragile work we start, with Elen, to walk the Ways of Elen, the silvery threads of a history not quite forgotten but generally overlooked.
Like the reindeer who walked the Boreal (northern) Forest that encircled the globe from western America to Eastern Russia, we take a journey sometimes personal and sometimes mythical following the ‘deer trod’. Elen writes with great fluency and often movingly about the hunter gatherers who – far from struggling to survive – often had more time than those whose more settled agricultural existence would later keep them working from dawn to dusk, often near poverty. She gradually evokes a world, within, behind and before our current era, a world marked by dolmens, old roads and sacred landmarks, where Elen - the Goddess Energy - leaves her traces. Like the Sami, we follow the wisdom of the grandmother deer who guided the reindeer herds, never controlled by those tribes who followed them, teaching which deer to take in the hunt and expecting gratitude in return.
This is a book to savour. We often walk with the author, and in places like the far north of Britain perceive her world and enjoy her discoveries as though we were there. It is a gift to teach to see the world with fresh eyes, a world hidden and ever present. Elen Sentier has that gift and that is why this is such a significant book.