(Pinterest Image, photographer unknown.)
Growing up, I think we all at one point visited a deer interactive zoo. Back in the 70’s Niagara Falls had such a farm. I have photos of us giggling among the fawns and does as we feed them from our hands. But this was a human controlled and conditioned environment.
My first real encounter with the spirit medicine of deer occurred during my time in Banff Alberta. Famous for their Elk, rather huge and imposing creatures, I had not spotted any deer in the area at all, let alone a stag.
A few months into my employment at the Banff Springs Hotel, I returned to my little ‘employee unit’ and was settling in for a good read. I had positioned my bed so that I would face the picture window, which afforded me a beautiful view of the forest’s edge above a clear incline. Once settled in and reading, I felt someone looking at me. Not a likely scenario, but there he stood. I was in awe, mesmerized, I could not move… I don’t think I was even breathing for a moment. It was a full antlered stag. He was breathtaking.
He stood and looked directly at me. I wanted to go to him, instinct dictated that I should… but logic told me that any sudden movement may make him bolt.
Slowly, keeping eye contact when I could, I dawned shoes and grabbed my jacket and headed out the side entrance. I was sure he would be gone by the time I walked over to where he had stood. And I was right, but a quick movement in the trees had me venturing into the forest. I didn’t see him. I don’t know what kept me going through. The rustling could have been nothing more than leaves blowing in the breeze, but I felt it was guidance… It was the spirit of this buck leading me on my journey.
I saw a clearing ahead, I wasn’t expecting that. In the areas I had explored around the castle like hotel, it was mainly forest trails and waterfalls. I had not, till this day, come across a meadow. It was small and circled in by trees, but filled with rays of lights through the clouds, and wild flowers. I honesty wondered if I was lucid dreaming or astral journeying at this point. Had I fallen asleep while reading?
In the center, or close enough to it, stood the Buck. Again, I held my breath. He was so regal. Until that moment I had always thought of deer as fragile and prey to others, but looking at him… I saw power, strength and I will be honest a sensual nature to him. I saw the Lord of the Forest. As the lion is to the desert planes, he was to this land. I felt a breeze on my cheek again, and closed my eyes. It wasn’t his energy, it was just as strong and powerful, but feminine in nature. It was my Spirit Ancestor, a new energy for me, one that I still refer to as ‘she who must not be named’. When I opened my eyes, he was gone.
I remember my knees just buckled out from under me and I ended up sitting in the tall grasses. Bewildered by the experience. I was never able to find this meadow clearing again.
It was not the first animal spirit teacher to find me in Banff, and it is one of the many reasons the Canadian Rockies still calls to me as my true home.
I never researched what it all meant, I assumed it was a chance encounter that would remain a special memory. I didn’t realize until I was unpacking my Winter decorations, after two years in storage, that I had subconsciously acquired a rather large collection of stags and deer over the years. Eight statues in total. It seems the experience stayed with me more than I realized.
Over the past few months, there has also been an unusual amount of deer and stag imagery on my social media feeds, and tarot/oracle messages being passed through. I realized it was time to make the commitment. I don’t believe the Deer’s Medicine is a temporary one, with the message quick to see and dealing with immediate issues, but will be a long term commitment. Like Dolphin, Horse and Bear, among others, Deer is now a part of my family. I look forward to the memories and lessons we will share.
In the following days I will be posting three more articles. The next will be on deer totem medicine as I see it relating to my journey. Following that will be an intro to, then a ritual for bringing the skull into my life. I know not all pagans are comfortable with the use of skulls and animal parts in their practice, so I wish to give you this courtesy warning.
I would love to know if you have had any encounters with the Deer family, and what healing medicines or teaching gifts they left in your life.
The Fireside Witch