Eels for Druids

I have no idea why eels don’t come up a lot more as powerful magical beings in modern Pagan traditions. They aren’t as common as they used to be, but we cope with the mammals on those terms. The UK Druid scene is abundant with the idea of wolves, but not eels.

Eels are beings of mystery. We still don’t properly understand them. They go away to breed, their tiny elvers swim back to us. The bounty of elvers in the rivers must have been a really important food source for many of our ancestors. I have wondered about the mysteriously absent and returning Mabon at Gloucester, on The Severn in terms of elvers.

Eels can live in the sea and in fresh water and can get out of the water to move about on land at night and in damp conditions. They are creatures of many worlds. They are creatures of the margins, of ditches and damp places, hidden waterways and secret paths through the landscape and the night. I have been enchanted by them for a long time.

Eels are really important food for otters. Eels have a lot of oil in them, and our ancestors ate them as well. They are richness embodied. They don’t exist to be eaten – no creature does – but humans and other creatures experience eels as incredible bounty. When elvers come up the rivers they used to do so in great numbers, again, embodying bounty from a human perspective.

They have a curious reputation for ugliness and creepiness. I don’t really get how this works, but there we go. Human aren’t good at night dwelling liminal creatures. We aren’t good at things that aren’t mammals and we are troubled by slimy bodies.

I have seen wild eels on a few occasions. Distressingly for me, my first wild eel was dangling from a fisherman’s hook alongside the canal. I have seen small ones swimming in the water. They make me intensely happy and I watch for them wherever there is water.

 

About Nimue Brown

Druid, author, dreamer, folk enthusiast, parent, wife to the most amazing artist -Tom Brown. Drinker of coffee, maker of puddings. Exploring life as a Pagan, seeking good and meaningful ways to be, struggling with mental health issues and worried about many things. View all posts by Nimue Brown

5 responses to “Eels for Druids

  • Wrycrow

    I love an eel! I’m very sad that the annual Eel Day in Ely has been cancelled this year amidst the lockdown – there’s usually a parade led by dancers in an eel costume (think Chinese dragon dancers but an eel), and live eels brought along to learn about by the river conservators. They’re wonderful and mysterious creatures.

  • locksley2010

    Very good post! And what with the modern scientific thinking that the Loch Ness Monster is now more likely to be some variety of giant eel…. who can say?

  • lornasmithers

    Yes, intensely magical, with their mysterious journey to the Sargasso Sea. I once saw a heron battling with an eel on the bank of the Ribble! I never thought of a disappearing Mabon/eel connection although I have felt Nodens is connected with eels and other deep creatures – something to ponder!

    • Nimue Brown

      I shall wander about in that thought and see if anything happens. Nodens here stands at the border between the salt and the fresh, and eels are one of the beings who like both…

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