The other day, when I was leaving my apartment to head to work, I came face-to-face with one of the Mother’s creatures… and that chance meeting has been in my thoughts ever since.
The creature was a young buck – a white-tailed deer with a small rack of antlers. He was walking across the yard when I came outside, and as I walked up the sidewalk towards the parking lot, we both stopped to gaze upon each other. We were no more than eight to ten feet apart from one another. As I looked into his eyes, I didn’t sense any fear or panic on the deer’s part…just a wary curiosity. The way he studied me, I almost felt as if this creature was trying to tell me something.
And perhaps he was. Animals have often been considered messengers of the deities; or at the very least…powerful totems or spirit guides. They have lessons to teach us – lessons about adaptation, lessons about relationships, lessons about potential, lessons about life itself.
So what messages does this young stag bring for me…what lessons am I supposed to learn?
First of all, the fact that this was a male deer as opposed to a female (doe) is significant. Although the Deer itself is connected to the Goddess, the stag is often recognized as a symbol of the God:
Great God, Horned One of the forests and wild places, Lord of the Sun, Bringer of warmth and light; You who run with the swift stag, soar with the birds in the sky, and protect all the Mother’s children; You who are born of the Goddess, Her lover and Her son, as are all men…
The stag, a symbol of the God’s warrior spirit… of his verility and fertility… of his role as protector. The stag, proud and independent.
So what is the message here? Am I in need of protection? If so, what exactly do I need protecting from? This I do not know.
I do know that much like the stag, I take pride in my independence, and thus do not like to ask for help… preferring instead to handle things on my own. The problem with this is that sometimes I get myself into situations where I really could use a little help from my friends, but I don’t know how to ask for it, or how to accept it when its offered.
I’ve recently moved from the Midwest to the West Coast, having accepted a job with an agency located in the Bay Area. Such a move has been filled with many changes, requiring the need for much adjustment in my life.
Those adjustments are not coming so easily. To be brutally honest, I’m struggling.
So when I saw this stag, my immediate thoughts were to try and define whatever messages and lessons he had for me from the perspective of the transitions currently going on in my life.
It’s interesting, because truthfully..in the many years that I have been practicing the Craft, I’ve never really developed a strong relationship with the God. Perhaps that is the message here – the need to tap more into that Male energy and utilize it to help me deal with some of the challenges I am currently facing with all of these changes.
On the other hand, the Deer also teaches us gentleness…and this is definitely something that is not one of my strengths. I’m not a gentle person – either with myself or with others. I tend to be my own worst critic, and I can be quite critical of others as well.
The past few weeks I have been rather hard on myself (and hard on others as well) as I struggle with the frustrations of settling into a new home and a new job. It feels like I can’t seem to get anything to go right…
I can’t seem to conquer my dyscalculia/dysgeographica to the point where I can even drive myself to the grocery store and back home again without getting lost. I can’t figure out how to work the damn GPS gadget that the agency gave me in hopes that it would help me learn how to navigate my way around the Bay Area. I can’t seem to make heads and tails of all the different resources here in the Bay Area that I’m expected to know so that I can provide appropriate services to my clients. I can’t seem to get my clients to understand that it takes time to develop that knowledge and expertise. I can’t seem to ground myself. I can’t seem to raise the energy that I need. I can’t seem to get over this sickening feeling in my stomach that this whole move has been one big mistake, and that I’m not meant to be here, living in the Bay Area and working for this agency.
I can’t seem to…
And I hate the fact that I can’t, and I hate myself for feeling this overwhelming sense of defeatism.
And perhaps it is for this very reason that the Deer has come into my life.
Be gentle with yourself, Osh. Nobody expects you to “can” in your first month. It may take a full year before you feel totally confident with “can.” Don’t try to force it. Let it happen in its own time. See this whole experience as an opportunity to grow and expand.
Certainly this is easier said than done. But as the antlers of the Stag reach up to the sky, they also remind me not to be afraid to reach for higher levels of attunement… to connect myself to the energies of Spirit.
And to trust in my ability to do so.
Trust in my sense of intuition, my perceptions, my inner thoughts.
These are all characteristics of the Deer, lessons that he teaches us.
And whenever my outermost thoughts start racing and scrambling around in my brain, bringing on that sense of panic and frustration and feelings of failure and despair – take a deep breath and calm them. Remember to balance that need for power and control with a recognition of the importance of love and compassion.
Be gentle with yourself, Osh. And be compassionate with others.
And know that whatever path I walk, whatever adventure I journey… I travel not alone.
For the Goddess and God are with me, embodied as they often are in the spirit of all creatures… great and small.
She Who Dances With the Deer
original artwork by Karen Hendrikse