Elk Medicine is one that is very dear to my heart as not only do I carry an Elk name, but my clan that I have been adopted into by the Grandmothers and Grandfathers is the Elk clan. Long before I received those gifts though, I had felt a connection to the Elk. As a wildlife photographer I would often be in the woods in the fall. I would move in a very quiet and concealed manner, except when I came up against a large bull Elk. I always had to fight down this need to be confrontational with the Elk. I know now that this was "my time" in the woods and I was feeling the call of my antlered brother. I have had some magical times with Elk in the forest and always get a chill run up my spine when I hear them bugle in the fall.
Elk are known as Ghosts of the Forest. It is truly amazing to see a large bull with a wide rack go silently through the forest. Elk literally seem to vanish like ghosts when they decide to move.
The autumn is the power time of the Elk. It is then that the rut or mating season happens. This is when the bulls are at their strongest and put everything on the line to further their genes. There is bugling, snorting, tearing apart bushes with their antlers as well as the famous battles between males. This is a truly an awe inspiring event to witness.
As with most ungulates (Elk, Deer, Moose, etc), although our powertime is autumn our birthing time is in the spring. This is when projects we started in the fall come to fruition. Winter is tough for us and is a time we conserve our resources.
Elk are Spirit messengers. They work with the lightning and messages sometimes come like bolts out of the blue. They are a majestic animal and hold themselves with poise. Elk generally don't hit their stride in life till later. While many animals come into their prime just after adulthood, the Elk wouldn't come into their own (especially for the male side) until much later in life.
There is a very gentle power to Elk. They are a prey animal but all predators give the Elk respect because they know it will be a deadly foe in a battle. I never understood why so many Bear and Wolf seem to follow me around until I realized that they keep the Elk strong just like in this reality. The Bear and Wolf will follow at a distance watching for any weakness in the herd. An Elk will usually try to avoid confrontation but when pushed it is a force to be reckoned with.
Although their are regional differences, there seems to be to be an affinity of Elk and the Birch tree in magical terms. In Celtic cosmology the Birch tree is seen as the tree of new beginnings and the number one. the Birch tree often sits at the eastern doorway to the spirit realm.
Traits of an Elk would be: virility, nobleness, sensual passion, grace, integrity.
Elk have to deal with some contradictions (probably why many of them are Heyoka). Elk have to learn the gifts of slow growth and yet when the time is right, growth happens almost overnight as in the case when bulls regrow their antlers. The antlers can grow up to an inch a day and the new velvet is a powerful medicine when it comes to rebuilding one's body and life's force.
Elk have to learn how to work cooperatively in groups but at the same time need to go off by themselves away from the herd from time to time.
Elk also have to learn to pace themselves otherwise they will get depleted and not be able to carry out their work.
They have a deep gentle voice and it is the voice of the bard; telling stories and singing songs. Someone that carried a lot of Elk Medicine would probably find they are happiest on a vegetarian diet, although you have to understand that most people have more than one totem at work.
Most of what I have written here applies more to the Bull Elk as that is the one that most people connect with. The female carries similar Medicine but would be more about fertility than virility.
For all my relations
Elk Touches the Clouds,