The Deer


The Deer’s keynote is that of Gentleness and innocence a gentle luring to new
adventure. While its cycle of power is that of autumn and spring. The deer has
always captured the imagination of humanity. It is one of the most successful
families of mammals, native to every continent except Australia. They have been
able to adapt to every sort of habitat. The white-tailed deer, the mule deer and
the caribou are three that are prominent on the North American continent. The
moose and the wapiti (Elk) are also part of the deer family, but they are
described separately.

Each type of deer has its own special qualities and characteristics, while
sharing some of the qualities of all deer in general. Caribou, for example, make
long migrations twice a year, reflecting the need for those who have it as a
totem to use that same pattern in their life. They begin running in fall and
early winter, and these then are the power times. The mule deer is also a
wanderer. It never follows the same path twice. This is part of its natural
defense, making it less predictable to predators. Most of the information in
this section will focus on deer in general, and the white-tailed specifically.

The name “deer” has several variations on its origin. These may provide clues to
past lives for those with this totem. The Anglo-Saxon word “deor” was a general
word for animals and was often used just in the general sense. In the German
language, it has its root in “tier”, simply meaning wild animal also. It can
also be traced to the Sanskrit “mriga”, also meaning wild animal.

To many the deer is considered the most important animal ever hunted. The hunt
of the deer is what transfers our civilization to the wilderness. There are many
stories and myths of deer luring hunters or even kings deep into the woods until
they are lost and begin to encounter new adventures. One such example is found
in the tales of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. Sir Gawain
follows a white hart to many adventurous encounters. A reading of Sir Thomas
Malory’s Le Morte D’Arthur will also provide more examples.

The deer is also a central religious image for Buddhism. Buddha is often
pictured with a deer, and legend tells how he first preached in a deer park.
This image itself reasserts the meaning of the deer as representing innocence
and a return to the wilderness.

The white-tailed deer is the most common in the United States. One of its most
outstanding features is the set of antlers that the male develops. In other
members of the deer family, i.e. reindeer and caribou, both the male and the
females grow them. The antlers are solid bone, and they are shed every year.
Antlers grow behind the eyes and are very protective.

Each year until the age of five, the antlers grow bigger and with more points.
If you encounter a deer in the wild, try to make count of the number of points.
This will tell you some of the significance the deer will have for you. Remember
that numerology can help define the essence.

Antlers are symbols of antennae, connections to higher forms of attainment. Deer
with antlers thus can be a signal to pay attention to your inner thoughts and
perceptions, as they are probably more accurate than you think.

The antlers are shed every year, and each year they grow back larger and with
more points, for five years. If a deer has entered your life, look for new
perceptions and degrees of perceptions to grow and expand for as much as the
next five years. It can indicate that there will be opportunities to stimulate
gentle new growth increasingly over the next few years.

One to two young are born. Fawns are born a color that protects and hides them.
In the first few days, they hardly move, and the mother nurses them often. This
is very significant for those with this totem. Many societies taught the
importance of staying with the new-born for a prescribed period of time. No
visitors, no family members other than the father were allowed to contact with
the new-born. Even today in the Muslim religion, a mother who breast feeds for a
prescribed time makes that child her own, whether or not it is her biological
child. This kind of attention and separateness enables the child to link with
the family more strongly and protects the new-born from subtle outside

Our auras or energy fields are electromagnetic and exchanges of energy do occur
with other people and places. The kind of energy a child is exposed to can have
strong effects. Until the child’s energy is strong and firmly grounded, it
should be protected from extraneous influences.

The deer leads us back to the primal wisdom of those old teachings. It reminds
us to establish a strong healthy connection with the child before we expose it
to many people and other strange energies. It is a reminder that there is a
tradition that is natural and suitable for family units and for the health of
the young. It is for the child’s best interest.

After the first few days, the fawn can usually stand and follow its mother
about. Doe fawns may stay with the mother for as much as a year. The buck or
male will usually leave after a few months. The father takes no part in the
rearing of the young; it is all the rule of the mother. Again this can be a
reminder for us to move gently back to the traditional family unit and roles. It
may indicate, if the deer has shown up in your life, that you have gotten too
far away from the role that would be most beneficial to you at this time.

A deer’s senses are very acute. Its vision is designed for clarity at a
distance. It is especially effective at detecting contrasts and edges in dim
light. Its hearing is equally acute. Anyone who has deer as a totem will find
increasing ability to detect subtle movements and appearances. They will begin
to hear what may not be said directly.

When deer shows up in your life it is time to be gentle with yourself and
others. A new innocence and freshness is about to be awakened or born. There is
going to be a gentle, enticing lure of new adventures. Ask yourself important
questions. Are you trying to force things? Are others? Are you being too
critical and uncaring of yourself? When deer shows up there is an opportunity to
express gentle love that will open new doors to adventure for you.

Woodland dreams of intuition come with the graceful deer.
I greet you, graceful brothers of the forest.
Your gift of magic will brighten my life.
Transformation will come to me.
Like you, I stand listening to the drum beat of life,
Poised to follow my guiding spirits.

© Ted Andrews – Animal Speak