The Stag, and deer, are a common traditional totem animals. Their mysteriousness and swiftness are qualities that draw us to them in a spiritual and even mundane everyday sense. Seeing the real animal that goes with the totem is always a magical moment for me. It reminds me of what they stand for and what they can show us when we see them in real life. Our farm always had deer and a stag or two. The back property line on our farm had a small timber that we would commonly see deer bounding through. There was also a hunting lodge a mile behind our property with and even thicker timber that was more like a forest that was very busy during hunting season.
Deer were also important to many lives in the small Midwestern town that I lived in. Deer meat, venison, was very popular this time of year and filled the freezers of many people in our little town. I can remember vividly, in high school, seeing the boys trucks pull up to the parking lot with gun racks and hunting gear from an outing before school started for the day. One year a boy in my class had tagged a deer right before the first bell and had to load the deer up in the back of his truck, head to school, and ask for permission from the principal to be able to miss his first few classes so he could get the deer home.
Seeing deer and the occasional Stag always felt magical to me. It was the time of year coupled with the hunt, knowing what the deer gave people in terms of food, and the cycle of life in a small town. The Stag and deer were symbols of rebirth, travel, and swiftness for me growing up. As I came into my spiritual practice the Stag and Deer became symbols of death and rebirth because of the yearly cycle of growing and shedding antlers in the Spring. They also became symbols for mysticism and the Otherworld. I began to think of the Stag and the Deer as guides through the brush and into another world because I would often see them bound across a field and into a thicket never to be seen again. For me that real world visual was one that I would capitalize on when I began the process of meditation. I would imagine following the deer through the thicket and into the brush to come out on the other side into the Otherworld of my Meditations.
The Stag and Deer are symbols of travel, shape-changing or change in general, swiftness, keen scent and gracefulness. They also have the duality as a symbol of death and rebirth because of their antlers and the natural process of shedding and regrowing them every spring. The Stag and the Deer can also be a useful totem animal to help you perceive the world from multiple vantage points. The Stag and Deer can be found in many folktales and is a common animal in the Celtic Tradition. They are also a common animal symbol used in Christianity. There are times when we need to acknowledge the duality of death and rebirth, and the unknown. That was a very hard lesson for me to learn and accept. Sometimes all the knowledge in the world can’t help you, in those times you have to listen to your inner self.
as Wayshower – No path is too steep or stony.*
as Protector – Speed will outrun most persuers.*
as Challenger – Where is the truth in what you seek?*
as Helper – Your life is full of power.*
* from Celtic Totem Animals, by John Matthews.
The Stag and Deer was a great animal to guide me in the beginning of my spiritual journey while I chose my path through the brush and into this new sect of knowledge. I have met this animal in my dreams and through meditation, the experience is always a calming one that gives me a sense of connection to the mysteries of the forest. So far the Stag and Deer have been a recurring real-world presence in my life. I haven’t had the need to seek out the Stag and Deer totem animal because the real live animals have been with me all of my life.