Ah, the elk, another animal I didn’t know much about until very recently!
- The elk is one of the largest species in the deer family.
- They are also known as wapiti which means white rump.
- They live in, or on the edges of, forests.
- They eat grasses, plants, leaves and barks.
- Female elks, cows, are about 1.3m/4.3ft tall at the shoulder and 2.1m/6.9ft from nose to tail. Male elks, bulls, are 1.5m/4.9ft and 2.45m/8ft respectively. Given that their antlers can be up to 4 foot high, this can make them pretty tall from toe to antler top.
- They are prey for large predators such as wolves and coyotes although an adult male with antlers stands a good chance in a fight. Hunters pose another threat, especially for male elk with their prized antlers…
The antlers make this particular elk a male one. There are some species of deer where both male and females have antlers but not in this case. The antlers start growing in spring and fall off in winter. This shedding and renewing of antlers is symbolic of the changing seasons and using winter as a time to let go of things and spring for renewal. This cycle of death and rebirth is one we can see throughout nature and is possibly one that, as humans, we aren’t so good at. We try to cling on to things that we need to let go of.
There is a belief that antlers are a way of connecting with the spirit world (or whatever you chose to call it) – think of them like a tv aerial…! Are you listening to the messages the universe has for you?
In parts of Asia the antlers are used in traditional medicine and as an aphrodisiac. Perhaps because of the role that antlers play in rutting and the elk being seen as having sexual prowess. Mating involves aggressive and violent fights between males in order to win the doe, something which can appear contradictory to their graceful and poised appearance. Are you hiding anger beneath your smile?
Like cows, elk have four stomachs, one for storing food in and the others for digesting. Taking this as a metaphor, are you reacting before you’ve understood the information or the situation? Do you need more time to think things through?
The mind works well if you let it ruminate on a problem or an idea before jumping in. Perhaps this would be a helpful approach right now?
In the summer elk eat almost constantly, like the mind which is always taking in information. However the elk does not eat constantly all year (likely because food is scarce in winter), are you giving yourself a break? Do you need to turn off your phone for an hour? Dig your way out of the internet rabbit hole? Stop clicking refresh on facebook? Turn off the tv? Don’t get me wrong, I love information and I love the internet but we can’t be consuming all year round.
Elks are of particular spiritual importance to the Lakota people. Males were given an elks tooth at birth to promote long life because this was the last part of the elk to rot away.
They are migratory animals, travelling in huge groups to find their food and avoid heavy snowfall. Females actually give birth during the spring migration – can you imagine that?
In Speaking with Nature, Llyn Roberts describes how elk enrich the forests they live in. They dig into the earth which aerates the soil and their antlers decay and provide nutrients. They also spread seeds as they travel through the woodland and nearby areas. Nature really is very clever. The elk feed the land and the land feeds the elk. Are you nurturing the land?
Calves are born with spots, so a leopard, or an elk at least, really can change it’s spots. We all change as we grow up and as time passes but as with the antlers, it can be hard for us to let go of who we were to create space for who we are becoming. Let your spots go, you don’t need them anymore. They served you well, protecting you, but now you can strike out without them.
Interestingly the next card in the earth suit is the deer so we shall see a lot of similarities in the next post.