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He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; he enables me to stand on the heights.
(Psalms 18:33)

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The deer’s antlers are one of the characteristics
that have made it the figure of a spiritual superiority.
Like a crown, the antlers grow beyond its body,
bringing it closer to the sky and making it sacred.

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In many cultures,
the deer is a symbol of spiritual authority.

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During a deer’s life the antlers fall off
and
grow again.

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The deer is also a symbol of regeneration.

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In the Christian imagination,
the deer is a symbol of piety,
devotion and of God taking care of his children.
The legend of Saint Eustace, tells the story of the Roman general who,
before becoming a saint,
was out hunting and came across a magnificent and enormous deer.
When Eustace looked at the animal’s eyes,
the light of Christ shone out of them
and
the voice of God spoke to him through them.
Placido, the Roman name for the saint,
gave up hunting and became a Christian.

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In the Celtic tradition,
there were two aspects of the deer:
the feminine element, called Eilid in Gaelic,
the female red deer,
symbolizing femininity, gentleness and grace.
It was believed that the female deer called to men
from the kingdom of the fairies
to free them from the trappings of the earthly world
and
taking them to the world of magic.

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Deer often turned into women in such legends in order to avoid being hunted.

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On the other hand,
there was also Damh, the masculine element,
which was also related to the sacred and to forests,
independence, purification and pride. 

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The stag is the king of the forest, the protector of all other creatures.

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For the native tribes of North America,
the deer was a messenger, an animal of power,
and
a totem representing sensitivity, intuition and gentleness.
Some groups would entrust the hunt to the deer,
which was also associated with fertility.
There is a Cherokee legend that tells how the deer procured its antlers
after winning a race against a rabbit.
The animals of the forest wanted to know
which of the two was the fastest,
but the rabbit cheated before the race
and
the deer won its antlers.

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In Buddhism,
the deer symbolizes harmony, happiness, peace and longevity.
When a male and a female deer are represented together
 it is a direct allusion to the first teachings of Buddha near Varanasi.
In one of this former lives, Buddha was a golden deer that spoke to men.
According to that tradition, deers are by nature
timid and serene animals
and
their presence in a place represents
the purity of a kingdom bereft of fear.
There are also Tibetan legends in which deer help men to solve problems.

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For the wixaritarie people who inhabit central Mexico,
and are more commonly known as huicholes,
the deer is an animal that translates the language of the gods for men.
For the huicholes, the deer is the first shaman or mara’kame
that later becomes an interlocutor between the shamans and other gods.
The deer is closely linked to two plants: its heart is a peyote
– the animal and the plant are one in essence –
and corn, which is a deer and is represented by its antlers.
In this tradition there is an infinity of deer
and
the most important are the original five,
which are located at the five cardinal points
(the blue, red, white, black and yellow deer).
The reproductive cycle of the deer is connected to the huicholes’ ritual calendar.

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The deer,
which is related in many traditions
with kindness, softness and gentleness,
is connected to the gods and the sacred.
One of the reasons for this could be its physical characteristics
– its stare, its agility, its speed and its antlers—
which inspire those values and symbols
in the imagination of humans
and
in its metaphorical nature.

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