Celtic Deer Art – Stag & Hind – plus folklore, symbolism, myth & meaning...
The deer is one of our ancient magical creatures of Britain – considered as sacred, and linked to the Otherworld for thousands of years…
Even today, the deer is an animal that we still think of as special and who still features in folklore, stories and legends as part of humanity’s unique connection with nature.
I’m going to explore some of our history with deer, the myths and legends we’ve woven around them, and how we relate to them and take meaning from them.
I’ll also be sharing my two Celtic deer artworks – a very handsome stag and a pretty doe…
There's a short general introduction to our history with deer on this page, including myth, folklore and meaning - then I go into much more detail on the stag (hart) and doe (hind) on their respective pages, too...
Let's start in the world of myth, with the deer of the classical world...
The Graeco-Roman Classical Deer
In the Graeco-Roman mythological world, the goddess Diana (Roman) or Artemis (Greek) had four deer to pull her chariot, led by golden reins.
Herakles/Hercules searched for the fifth deer for a year and followed it to the land of the Hyperboreans, the primeval sages. He captures the deer alive and carries it back to Mycenae.
The deer is takes is described by Virgil as ‘brazen-footed’ – meaning with hooves of bronze. The deer was considered fleet of foot and can run tirelessly with hooves never wearing out – hooves of bronze, perhaps? Bronze was considered a sacred metal in these times, so associating the deer with being a sacred animal…
The creature was discovered in the land of the sages – thus equating Hercules’ quest for the deer with a quest for wisdom or knowledge...
This links also to the Celtic tales where the stag is a creature of wisdom and depicted as one of the five oldest animals in the world…
One of the Oldest Animals in the World
The Celtic Arthurian tale of Culhwch and Olwen tells of the quest of Arthur and his men who seek the whereabouts of Mabon, the Celtic ‘Divine Youth’ or ‘Son of Light’ who has been imprisoned in the underworld.
To gain the knowledge they need, the band of men seek the oldest animal in the world.
They find the Blackbird of Gilgwri, who directs them to an older animal, the Stag of Rhedynfr on Fenbrake Hill. Although old and wise, the stag is not the oldest. He directs them to the Owl of Cawlwyd, who sends them to the Eagle of Gwenaby, who is able to point them towards the Salmon of Knowledge, who is the oldest and wisest animal in the world and can take them to Mabon.
St. Patrick & the Deer
Stag Symbolism, Folklore & Art
Doe Symbolism, Folklore & Art
Flowers & Floral
Learning To Draw & Art Skills
Myth Meaning Folklore
Nature And Wildlife Art
Offers And Freebies
Surface Pattern Design
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