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
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.