Those of us with antlers, those of us with horns…I saw myself in many dreams with the antlers of a stag. I shall explore the mysteries of horns and those who wear them in the spirit world.
I was never afraid of the dark. Even when he stood in the crack of light between the door frame and the door, silhouetted, strange, bent as when a wild animal rises on it hind legs to look at something higher than the ground. Perhaps I dreamed, yet it did not seem so, for my eyes were open and I saw him clearly. Tall, feral, dark, and stretching out form the top of his head, the long antlers of a stag.
He only ever came to look at me, gazing with eyes of green fire. When I reached out to touch him, to see if he was as real as he appeared, my gesture was slow and, not stirring a particle of air, more silent than the night. It was then he always disappeared. I remember once, missing contact with my Faery visitor, I fell, slowly, dreamlike to the floor. The sensation of the cold floor against my cheek stays with me still, implanting this memory in my conscious mind forever. And as in a dream, I floated up, weightlessly, back into bed to turn away and dream again a dream I don’t recall.
This spirit returned to me a few times and it was always the same. We lived very close to the woods in Massachusetts, a place where Nathaniel Hawthorne found evidence of old Pagan worship still practiced by English colonists. I have since learned that it is traditional for the Spirit of the Forest to appear in the shape of a man/stag. Even when we moved, we lived still upon the woods, and he came to me there again. I am not sure ha has ever left me.
Later, when I was 29, I was going through a very bad time with a Saturn return in Scorpio in my Seventh House. Everything died in those two years. I was living in Seattle, nowhere near the woods, and had not encountered my spiritual visitor since I moved there. I suffered what I later learned was a Shamanic illness, characterized by great debilitation, depression, obsession with wheels turning in my mind, soundlessly, constantly, all countered by strange initiatory dreams and visions. I dreamed of the stag, running through the trees. I followed, I rode upon his back and felt more alive than I ever had. I drew a lot of pictures. Of my dreams, of the lover who I lost, of boats, and the sea, and one of me looking into a mirror in which my reflection wore the antlers of a stag.
A whole series of these images grew out of my depression. One in particular was prophetic: I am sitting in an underground cavern at a dressing table with a round mirror on it. I am wearing antlers and looking at my reflection also wearing antlers. Many years later, when I studied with R.J.Stewart and his Underworld Faery, I return to that underground chamber and the Horned God would erupted into my life with a power I barely survived.
In this image of the Nine of Pentacles from my Holy Grail Tarot, the leafy, antlered crown of the Faery Queen mirrors the bare winter branches of the trees. Nine is the number of the moon. The setting is under deep snow, for Pentacles are the symbol of Earth whose power resides in the North. In the mystic North is night, is snow, is the dark moon, the Underworld, ice, the mirror lake, the stones, white animals, and those with horns and hoofs. She wears a triple horned crown, and carries a cornucopia, the single horn hollowed out and pointing to Earth. It is full of harvested apples, fruit of the Goddess, the Faery Queen, that hides the five-pointed star within.
The Earth is the vessel of plenty, the provider of all we need. everything we have, everything we are, comes from the Earth.
Horned animals sacred to the north are the stag, boar, goat, reindeer.
The stag is a sacred animal whose antlers reflect the World Tree whose roots are in the Heavens and whose branches open down into the UnderWorld as when he looks at his reflection in the lake. The stag is thus a mediator between the Heaven and Earth. As he sheds his antlers in the Spring, and then grows them back, he is also a spirit of death and rebirth. The star road of the Milky Way belongs to Night and therefore belongs to the North and Earth, and thus to Death, for all Earthly forms are mortal. The Milky Way curves towards the sunrise of the East, place of Birth. The stag dances on this starry bridge as the mediator between Death and new Life.
Duality is expressed in the two horns and the cloven hooves of the stag. Duality expresses opposites, male/ female, dark/light, above/ below, etc. Without these opposites there would be no Other, would be no sexuality, therefore no creation, would be no consciousness of Self. The three is the result of the pairing of opposites, that which comes together and multiplies has given birth. The single horn of the Unicorn represents purity because the single is whole and impenetrable. A single horn is one within itself, inviolate, virgin. This perhaps explains why there are no more Unicorns, for the Earth is a creation of dual forces. Without the two there can be no three, can be no birth. The one stands alone and is, in the earthly sense, uncreative, spiritual, renunciate.
If you would like to see my Tarot of the Holy Grail, please visit
www.whiteswan-tarot.com Book of Visions: Clairvoyant Tarot
I also discuss the Hunt of the Unicorn Tapestries and the 12th century Courts of Love at www.themysteriousdomain.com. The Unicorn in Captivity above is from those beautiful woven works.
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