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