Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The magnificent Stag

The stag has become a symbol of mystery, royalty and strength throughout much of the European countries. If you have traveled the English countryside you may find yourself going into many pubs with the name stag somewhere in the mix.
     Stag according to the dictionary is an adult male of various deer especially the red deer.
     The stag is taken as a symbol of sovereignty and male strength. Also is to be associated with the watchfulness of a celestial guardian. Many tombs and graves throughout Europe has been found with skulls and antlers of the stag especially graves of royalty. The stag was thought to be a messenger of the spirit world. To follow a stag, especially a white stag, was thought to lead you on a spiritual journey. Many of the Celtic ancestors saw him as the King of the Forest. In a grave in Colchester, archaeologist  found a bronze figurine of a stag, engraved on it was The King of the Forest.
     Many legends surrounding the white stag or hart, as it is also called, comes with the warnings of curses and prophecies of bad luck to anyone who crosses the creature. To the Celts, if one came across a white stag meant that it was a harbinger of some kind of doom, some taboo had been transgressed or a mortal law had been broken and some terrible evil or judgement was imminent.
     To the Hungarians, the white stag led their ancestors to their homeland. In many French legends, if anyone killed a white stag was cursed with the pain of unrequited love.
     In the Norse mythology, four stags representing the four winds stands around the world tree Yggdrasil.
     Also in Greek mythology, the chariot of the virgin priestess in whom Artemis was embodied was drawn by stags.
     The stag was also thought to represent the cycle of death and rebirth because the stag grew and then shed their antlers in the spring.  It was also thought as one of the oldest animals of the world. A white stag appeared to King Arthur and his men while they were in the forest. They took this as meaning that it was time to embark on a quest, the quest of the Holy Grail.
     Merlin was also said to led a herd of deer and riding on a stag in the Caledonian Forest.
     In the Irish Fionn cycle, Donn, the god of the dead and protector of crops and cattle, disguised himself as a stag, which the hero chased. Then later in the tale, the hero marries a fairy woman who often takes the form of a stag. They together had a son named Ossian, who himself was half human and half deer.
     In the 12th century Scottish legend of King David I, who was out hunting when a white stag charged him. He took the stag by the antlers when they turned into a large cross. He was then inspired to build a shrine to the Holy Rod meaning the Holy Cross, at the site of the Queen's Holy rood Palace.
     Today, the white stag or deer has been seen and recorded in many ancient forest through out the world mainly in and around Europe. One was filmed in the New Forest area of Southern England. People watched it and tried to protect it, but poachers killed it eventually. The authorities found it's carcass hanging in a tree and it's head gone. Needless to say the people of the area was very upset.
     If seeing a white stag was an omen of doom or some judgement was imminent, I wonder what doom was it predicting for us as a human race and I'm sure not to good for the individual(s) who hunted and killed it.

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