Deer Symbolism

Peter Y Chou

Postage Stamps of Stag from Germany Wurttemberg

Wurttemberg O53: Stag 10 pf
(issued 3-19-1920)

Wurttemberg O54: Stag 15 pf
(issued 3-19-1920)

Wurttemberg O55: Stag 20 pf
(issued 3-19-1920)

Wurttemberg O56: Stag 30 pf
(issued 3-19-1920)

Wurttemberg O57: Stag 50 pf
(issued 3-19-1920)

Wurttemberg O58: Stag 75 pf
(issued 3-19-1920)

Buddhist Jataka Stories of Rebirth
Buddha remembered many of his past lives after his enlightenment. These tales are recounted in Jataka Stories (300 BC). It is believed that the last thought when dying determines your next rebirth. In one of his previous lives as King Bharata, he cared for a doe whose mother had died. When the King was dying, he thought of the doe, and was reborn as a deer in his next life. Though trapped in a doe's body, his actions were that of a yogi, he would go sit near Ashrams of Rishis, listen to their chanting, living in their calm and peaceful spiritual vibrations.

Stag by J.E. Cirlot, A Dictionary of Symbols (1962), p. 294
Its symbolic meaning is linked with the Tree of Life, because of the resemblance of its antlers
to branches. It is also a symbol of the cycles of regeneration and growth. The stag, in several cultures of Asia & pre-Columbian America, came to be thought of as symbol of regeneration because of the way its antlers are renewed. Like the eagle and the lion, it is the secular enemy of the serpent, which shows that, symbolically, it was viewed favorabaly; it is closely related to heaven and light, whereas the serpent is associated with night & subterranean life. Hence, in the Milky Way, on both sides of the Bridge of Death and Resurrection are figures of eagles, stags and horses acting as mediators between heaven and earth. In the West, during Middle Ages, the way of solitude & purity was symbolized by the stag, which appears in some emblems with a crucifix between its horns. It has been considered as a symbol of elevation. Recalled postage stamp Hungary 485 (issued 7-10-1933) showing a stag leaping upward. The Greeks and Romans perceived 'mystical' gifts in the stag, which they exaggerated through psychic projection. One of these gifts was the ability to recognize medicinal plants. His prestige is in part a consequence of his appearance: his beauty, grace, agility. Because of his role as messenger of the gods, the stag may be considered as antithesis of the he-goat.

Deer by J.C. Cooper, An Illustrated Encyclopedia of Traditional Symbols (1978), p. 50
Frequenly depicted with the Tree of Life. Amerindian: Swiftness; fleetness of foot. Buddhist: Deer on either side of the circle of the Wheel of the Law represent Buddha's preaching in the Deer Park at Sarnath which set the wheel in motion; the deer depicts meditation, meekness and gentleness, but it is also one of the 'three senseless creatures of Chinese Buddhism as signifying love-sickness, with the tiger as anger and the monkey as greed. Celtic: Deer are the supernatural animals of the fairy world and are fairy cattle and divine messengers. Deer skin and antlers are ritual vestments. Flidass, Goddess of Venery, has a chariot drawn by deer. Chinese: Longevity; high rank; official success; wealth (deer being a homophone of lu, emolument). Egyptian: Sacred to Isis at Phocis. Greek: Sacred to Artemis, Athene, Aphrodite and Diana as moon goddess, and to Apollo at Delphi. Japanese: An attribute of gods of longevity, but it is also solitariness and melancholy when associated with the maple.

Deer by C.A.S. Williams, Chinese Symbolism & Art Motifs (1974), p. 116
The deer is believed by the Chinese to live to a very great age, and has therefore become an emblem of long life. It is said to be the only animal which is able to find the sacred fungus of immortality. People eat hartshorn in large quantities, and at much expense, in the hope of prolonging their mundane existence. The horns of the deer hold the same important place in the Chinese Materia Medica as they did formerly in all European Pharmacopeias. They are sorted as "old" and "young". The soft internal part of the horns is dried, pulverised, and made up into pills. The inferior parts are boiled into jelly or tincture. Stimulant, tonic, astringent, and many other doubtful properties are assigned to this substance, which is only available to the wealthy. It contains a large proportion of phosphate of lime, and may have some good effect in rickets and other infantile disease. A picture of a deer often represents official emolument, as a jeu de mot on the similar pronunciation— lu— of the two words.

Deer by Jean Chevalier & Alain Gheerbrant,
The Penguin Dictionary of Symbols (1994), pp. 281-282
Eating deer (venado) is taboo to the Panache Indians of Colombia since they believe that after death, human souls pass into the bodies of these creatures. The Aztecs sometimes depicted the first deified woman, the mother of the twin Heroes, called the serpent-woman,
as a two-headed deer which dropped from the sky and was used as a fetish in war. In Mayan hieroglyphics, the dying deer is a symbol of drought. In several ancient Mexican codices, including the Codex Borgia, deer are depicted carrying the Sun. The most of the tribes peopling the steppes of central Asia, the deer was a conductor of souls. The robes of the shamans were often made from deerskin and some shamans wore on their heads or their back iron copies of deer's or stag's antlers.

Photos of Deer at Sanborn Park & Bay Area

Four Deer at Sanborn Park

Sanborn Park Deer

UVas Canyon Deer

Baby Deer at Shoreline Blvd

Postage Stamps of Deer

Austria 641:
(issued 5-20-1959)

Bulgaria 1005:
(issued 4-5-1958)

New Caledonia J25:
Samba Deer
(issued 1928)

U.S. 2294:
Mule Deer
(issued 6-13-1987)

U.S. 2371:
Whitetailed Deer
(issued 6-13-1987)

Albania 1047:
Doe & Fawn
(issued 7-20-1967)

Cuba 2293:
Roe Deer
(issued 11-15-1979)

Russia 2431:
Roe Deer
(issued 1961)

Sweden 1921:
Roe Deer & Fawn
(issued 1-30-1992)

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