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Deer Dreams
Cernunnos, the resurrected Celtic Forest God.
The Gundestrup Cauldron


White Stag

"The animal envoys of the Unseen Power no longer serve, as in primeval times, to teach and to guide mankind.  Bears, lions, elephants, ibexes, and gazelles are in cages in our zoos.  Man is no longer the newcomer in a world of unexplored plains and forests, and our immediate neighbors are not wild beasts but other human beings, contending for goods and space on a planet that is whirling without end around the fireball of a star.  Neither in body nor in mind do we inhabit the world of those hunting races of the Paleolithic millennia, to whose lives and life ways we nevertheless owe the very forms of our bodies and structures of our minds.  Memories of their animal envoys still must sleep, somehow, within us; for they wake a little and stir when we venture into wilderness.  They wake in terror to thunder.  And again they wake, with a sense of recognition, when we enter any one of those great painted caves.  Whatever the inward darkness may have been to which the shamans of those caves descended in their trances, the same must lie within ourselves, nightly visited in sleep."
-Joseph Campbell,
The Way of the Animal Powers
Excerpt from: The Power of Myth, Joseph Campbell with Bill Moyers (Broadway Books: New York. 1988. p. 69)

If you have had dreams of a Deer or Stag lately or have recurring dreams of either animal, this might be your animal totem or shadow animal.  During the course of July, I will be posting information, quotes, short stories, and reference material pertaining to these majestic animals.  Keep reading if your interest is peeked and don't hesitate to email or post a comment with questions!
Some key words or symbols associated with Deer/Stag:
Great Spirit
Christ and the Four Evangelists
Pontina Theron/Hunter Goddess of 
   Paleolithic times (later-Hecate
   and Artemis or both combined)
Autumn and Spring
King Arthur-Grail Legend
Forewarning (stamping or snorting to
     alert the group/herd)
Senses/sensate - (ability to sense
     danger through smell; do you need
     to use your senses more/less?) 
Seasonal or shedding of skin (change)
The Great Unknown or The Unattainable
Here is a quote from Animal Speak:
"To many the deer is considered the most important animal ever hunted.  The hunt of the deer is what transfers our civilization to the wilderness.  There are may stories and myths of deer luring hunters or even kings deep into the woods until they are lost and begin to encounter new adventures.  One such example is found in the tales of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table.  Sir Gawain follows a white hart to many adventurous encounters.  A reading of Sir Thomas Malory's Le Morte D'Arthur will also provide more examples.
     "The deer is also a central religous image for Buddhism.  Buddha is often pictured with a deer, and legend tells how he first preached in a deer park.  this image itself reasserts the meaning of the deer as representing innocence and a return to the wilderness." (Andrews, 262-3)

"The stag is an alleory of Christ because legend attributes to it the capacity for self-renewal...  In alchemy, Mercurius is allegorized as the stag because the stag can renew itself." 
-Jung, Dreams
The Collected Works by C.G. Jung
Volumes 4, 8, 12, 16. Bolligen Series XX
(Princeton University Press: New Jersey. 1974. p 79.
By understanding the patterns of Bucks or Stags, we can look at possible Shadow aspects of these animals:
Bucks or Stags are highly territorial and, in a sense, very grounded.  They will stay within their range, approximately 2 square miles, for most of their life.    Along their territory, the bucks will "rub" their scent on small saplings, generally right below a small branch.  You can denote the size of the buck by the size of the sapling they have chosen to "rub" (the bigger the sapling, the bigger the buck).  They also scrape or dig the ground and urinate close to this area.  Boundaries... They stick to their boundaries until rutting season, mating time; often they will take several does as mates, traveling as a pack until mating season ends.
These amazing animals can also be very powerful shadow aspects.  Do you have or need strong boundaries?  Is your ego inflated and in need of humility?  Do you have problems committing or being monogamous?    These are some questions worth looking at.  If you are a hunter, are you being respectful of the animal you are hunting?  The Stag or Buck will mark their territory-they make their place known; sneaking around or having poor boundaries can be shadow aspects.  Be true to yourself.
Let's not forget about the Tree in relation to the Stag/Deer.  Trees are powerful symbols of life, creation, knowledge, the Divine....  The Stag is in direct contact with the Tree of life; more on this subject to come!

Ode to Deer - more about carving here!
Sandstone, July 1st, 2007

Deer in a mythological light:
"Ordered to capture a deer, famed for its golden antlers and metal hoofs, Heracles succeeds after tracking the animal for a year.  But when Heracles meets Apollo, the god claims the deer is sacred to his sister, Artemis.  Heracles apologizes and later releases the animal."
    excerpt taken from Kenneth C. Davis:"Don't Know Much About Mythology"(Harper: New York. 2006) 
In an archetypal light, the deer is closely related to the ancient European goddesses... If you have had an "otherworldly" dream where a deer is present, research on the animal might uncover your true path in life. 


Last night, as I was watching one of the last scenes in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (for the 200th time, I’m sure) I found myself riddled with goose-bumps and a newfound respect for J.K. Rowling.  In this sequel, Harry learns how to make a Patronus (for those non-Harry Fans, this is a spell or counter-curse to defend himself against the terrifying, ghostly, life-sucking, Dementors).


These charms often materialize into a misty animal form which chases away the Dementors.   Harry’s Patronus took the form of a white stag…the same animal which his deceased father took as an animagus or shape-shifter when he was a teen at Hogwarts.


Towards the end of the show, Harry realizes that he is the one who made the patronus that saved his life…the show is quite confusing to those who haven’t seen it (time travel allows Harry to be in two places at one time.)


Basically, at the last minute Harry sees from across the lake, a white stag in the form of a patronus, which comes to his rescue.  Later he realizes it was his own charm that saved his life.  


The White Stag symbolized his Father, someone whom he longs to see again but can never; it also symbolizes his maturity, independence, and confidence; a true sense of Self.  Above all, the Stag saved his life.  He is the Life Giver, the Father, the Unattainable…


What a beautiful, mythical, ancient symbol to give to our children who will learn one day that the authors of our time are repeating the ancient archetypal symbols utilized thousands of years ago.  So, thank you Ms. Rowling!