Dream Gates

Dream Gates

Living Bones: The Deer and the Gift of Regeneration

I heard from a friend just now that she dreamed of the Deer overnight and woke feeling blessed relief from the cruel back pain that had been oppressing her. I have come to know the Deer as a remarkable ally in healing and self-renewal. I am capitalizing the word “deer” to make it clear than I am speaking about the collective and spiritual energy of the Deer, rather than about specific animals – though encounters with a doe or a buck on the roads of ordinary life can have a numinous quality that evokes the greater power.


Another friend recently suffered a serious fall while jumping a horse, fracturing the bones of one ankle and damaging several vertebrae. After a long but steady process of recovery, she told me that she recently met the Deer in a lucid dream that she was certain was a decisive turn towards the full restoration of her health and vitality. In her night vision, she was amazed to find that the head of a stag appeared in her heart center. He raised his tremendous antlers and she felt them branch out and become one with her bones, transferring to her spine and her ankle – and other parts of her body – a vital gift of regeneration.

Regeneration is indeed a gift of the Deer. The antlers grow, and fall, and grow back. There is a mystery here that bioscience would love to understand and synthesize. For ancient and indigenous peoples, it is spiritual, in its essence. In the Mohawk language, the antlers are called the “living bones”. In French, they are the “wood”, resembling the branches of a tree. The antlers rise above and beyond the physical body towards the sky; so they have been seen in many cultures as a symbol of spiritual connection. And, like the gods that die and are reborn, they fall and grow back.


Just before I got the call from the friend who dreamed of the Deer last night, I had to turn out my pockets for a routine security check at a government building. The guard carefully removed the silver head of a stag from the deerskin pouch in which I carry it in my pocket. He glanced at me with non-intrusive curiosity. “It’s a good luck thing,” I said. “How’s that working out?” “Pretty good so far,” I allowed.  I did not tell him that the silver stag’s head I carry with me, always, was made by an artisan on a mountain in the Adirondacks where the Deer energy runs strong, and has conferred gifts of healing and regenerations on the community of active dreamers who have gathered there with me, spring and fall, for fourteen years.

Whitetail buck photo by Ray Hardy

  • Kit Cooley

    Thank you, Robert, for this. I have found what you say to be true about Deer (who is also personal medicine for me). Just recently, while feeling ill, I did dream of a family of white Deer–stag, doe, and two fawns–running through my woods. The Stag turned to rush me, and though I stood behind a tree, I felt the power flow through me. I woke refreshed (which is rare for me), and on the mend. I give great thanks to the Deer People.

    • Robert Moss

      Kit – What a beautiful dream, spilling into waking life with its gifts of energy and healing. When an animal I love or respect “rushes” me (and a white stag is the most spiritual version of the Deer) I know I want to pay close attention and move towards it rather than away from it in my life.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Nina

    Thank you very much for this great post on the regenerative power of the deer.
    Before reading your post and Irene´s marvellously auspicious healing dream I never fully realized its great gift for recuperation. I recalled the Tibetan symbol of a wheel flanked by two deer, male and female, (male is sometimes depicted with a single horn as a unicorn) and this emblem led me to the further information about the symbolic meaning of deer in China. In China it belongs to six symbols of a long life. Deer was believed to live to an advanced age and to be able to locate “the fungus of immortality”. Even in the material world, the tips of its antlers are thought to contain the essence of the fungus and are made into medicine helping to increase vitality and health. According to the Chinese legend the Immortals on the Island of Immortals ate the divine food (the fungus) and drank from the eternal waters of the jade fountain.
    The fountain of eternal water reminds me the fountain of life in Christianity which can sometimes be associated with deer. In the Tomb of Galla Placidia in Ravenna, the lunettes display the Good Sheperd, apostles, saints and deer drinking from the foutain of life. The mosaics come from the first half of the fifth century and they certainly pertain to one of the wonders of the early medieval art.
    I don´t know enough about Christian iconography, but traditionally deer represent Christ or the souls looking for Christ as a source of eternal life.
    I don´t mean to mix up symbols from various cultures and time periods together but when following the symolic language of images, the depictions always seem to originate from the one universal source and just gradually take on different appearances to suit imagination of all sorts of people. So probably, eternal water drunk by Chinesse Immortals and Christian souls and all who are thirsty for the real life posseses the same sweet and liberating taste of truth.

  • Patti

    I shall think of this whenever I see deer. It will soon be that season, here in southern VT. Also, I thought of you, Robert, when I read this quote and wanted to pass it along:

    “To be indigenous, requires conscious awareness of place, particular to spiritual experience made sensible through living connections relevant to that place over and over, again and again.” — Larry Littlebird, founder of Haamatsa

    • Robert Moss

      Patti – Yes, to be “indigenous” is certainly to be rooted in place, and (I would add) to hear the many voices of the speaking land. But surely it’s also about ancestral connection, which can travel with us – through our migrations and those of generations before us – from one landscape to another. Though we no longer think of ourselves as “indigenous” after many transits, the old roots still reach for us, as we learn to put down new ones.

  • Kit Cooley

    You are right, Robert, we do all have indigenous roots, although so many have forgotten. We can reclaim our indigenous roots–our indigenous minds–through remembering our ancestors. They come to us in dreams also. When I went to Italy on a journey of ancestral remembrance, the land, the animals, and the plants all came to greet me. It felt as if my grandparents, great-grandparents, and right on back, they were all holding me as I reconnected with the land. Before the trip, during my stay there, and afterward, until this day, they continue to come to me in dreams. What a beautiful blessing! And not just my Italian ancestors, but the Celts, the Iroquois & Cherokee, and all the ones I do not know yet whose blood I carry. It is good to speak of these things here. When we remember them, we open the door. Grazie, to all my relations.

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