Merry we meet - Merry we meet - Merry we meet
Animals and Witchcraft
(The Witches Familiar)
and compiled by George Knowles
New Year is nearly upon us, a time of goodwill and merriment, but also a time of
reflection and preparation for the future.
For many people all around the world, even in places of conflict, it is a
time of hope and a time to let the imagination roam free.
It is also a mystical time of the year when inspired by the beauty and
wonders of the winter landscape, fairies, sprites and all-manner of mythical
creatures appear and disappear, limited only by our imaginations.
One of the most enduring of all mythical creatures is the Unicorn, that
magnificent silver white stallion with a long spiralling horn protruding from
his forehead. When visualised
against a snowy moonlit background, the Unicorn encapsulates all the virtues of
freedom, courage, strength and nobility, while at the same time representing
wisdom, enchantment, benevolence and
and legends about Unicorns have been around since ancient times and variously
describe it as: huge, strong and
fierce, or lamb-like, small and cuddly. Ctesias
of Cnidus, a Greek historian and physician to the Kings of Persia around the 5th
century BC made one of the earliest mentions of the Unicorn.
In his history of India (ca. 398 BC), he recorded that:
“There are in India certain wild asses, large as horses, their bodies are
white, their heads dark red and their eyes dark blue. They have a horn on the forehead about a foot and a half in
length. The dust filed from this
horn is administered in a potion as protection against deadly drugs.
The base of the horn is pure white, the upper part is sharp and of vivid
crimson, while the middle portion is black.
Drinking vessels are made from these horns, and those who drink from them
are not subject to convulsions or the holy disease.
Indeed they are made immune even to poisons if, either before or after
swallowing such, they drink wine, water, or anything else from them.”
Later historians and writers such as Aristotle (384-322 BC), Pliny the Elder (23-79 AD) and Claudius Aelian (170-235 AD) also made mention of Unicorns, which they describe as having the likeness of: Antelope, Rhinoceros, Ox, Ram, Goat, Bull, Donkey, Horse, Serpent or Narwhal. Pliny the Elder embodied combinations of all the above when he states that it is: “.... a very ferocious beast, similar in the rest of its body to a horse, with the head of a deer, the feet of an elephant, the tail of a boar, a deep bellowing voice, and a single black horn two cubits in length standing out in the middle of its forehead. An animal that could never be taken alive.”
and Pliny were considered great authorities on many subjects during their times,
and their writings and theories were believed well up into the Middle Ages.
But no text from antiquity was more influential than the early Hebrew
Bible, in which an animal called the “Re’em”, is mentioned several
times (much later identified as a “bos primigenius”, the giant
aurochs, a double horned species of wild buffalo that became extinct in
Mesopotamia by about 500 BC). However,
Greek translators of the Old Testament mistranslated “Re’em”, and
described it as ‘monoceros’, which in Greek means
‘single-horned’, and so in both the Old Latin Bible and some passages of the
vulgate Bible it became known as “Unicornis”,
and in the King James Bible as “Unicorn”.
As the Bible was familiar to all Christians throughout the Middle Ages,
to doubt the existence of the Unicorn would have been to question the very word
of God and so it remained.
Of the stories in the Bible about Unicorns is the legend of Noah’s Ark (mentioned in the Old Testament and the Koran). According to this legend, Noah the son of Lamech was tenth in descent from Adam, and later as a survivor of the great flood became known as the father of all humanity (Genesis 6-9). When God became angry about all the corruption in the world he decided to destroy it with a great flood lasting for 40 days and 40 nights. Noah, because of his piety was forewarned to build a huge Ark, a great ship, and take on board his wife and three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth, together with their wives. He was also instructed to save two mating specimens of all the animals on Earth, but sadly he forgot to include the Unicorn, which is why they don’t exist today?? (There are various other stories about this myth, one such states... “Because of their huge size, they were tied to the stern of the Ark by their tusks and forced to swim, but after 40 days and 40 nights their strength finally gave out and they drowned before landfall could be found.”)
the one of the most popular myths surounding the Unicorn is that he can only be
captured by a virgin maiden (typically in bibical terms she is represented by
the Virgin Mary). As soon as the
unicorn sees her, it lays its head in her lap and falls asleep thus enabling
hunters to capture it. Clearly this
is not the same “fierce” Unicorn mentioned above. This
story is told in a famous series of tapestries called “The Hunt of
the Unicorn” (thought to have been woven in Brussels or Liège during the
early 1500’s) and now hangs in the Cloisters division of the Metropolitan
Museum of Art in New York City. Because
of this association with virgins, the Unicorn became a symbol of purity,
innocence and playfulness.
Belief that the Unicorn was a real animal persisted right up into the Middle Ages, which is why there is such a wealth of mythology and folklore about them, but most myths are concerned with the mystical and magical qualities of the horn itself (known as Alicorn). Folklore has it that the horn had magical healing properties that could neutralize any poison. One story of old states: “.... a serpent poisoned the watering hole of local animals making it unsuitable for them to drink. When the Unicorn arrived and found the other animals thirsting, he dipped his horn into the water counteracting the poison thus making the water safe again to drink.”
of such stories, a lucrative trade in false Alicorn’s began, but mostly these
were the horns of Bulls, Goats and other exotic animals such as the Narwhal (Monodon
whale like creature found only in the high Arctic seas sporting a large
horn-like tusk, and these were substituted.
The horns would be crafted
into cups, chalices and eating utensils much prized by the wealthy.
In time the Alicorn became
worth more than its weight in gold as Kings, Queens, Emperors and Popes were
among the wealthy rich eager to acquire them for protection.
Through the Middle Ages until about the eighteenth century Apothecaries
and pharmacies had elaborate signs of Unicorns made or showed Narwhal tusks
above doors to assure customers they had the real thing in stock.
One such pharmacy still survives, the famous “White Unicorn” Pharmacy
at Klatovy in the Czech Republic, which is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
“White Unicorn” Pharmacy at Klatovy.
Complete Unicorn horns are very rare, however, one example owned by Queen Elizabeth I of England (Queen from 1558–1603), was at the time valued at £10,000, or the equivalent of about 3,000 ounces of gold, enough to buy a large country estate complete with a castle. The Throne Chair of Denmark (located in the Castle of Rosenborg, Copenhagen) is also thought to contain Unicorn horns, but those are almost certainly Narwhal tusks. One carved Narwhal horn can be found located in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, and measures 110 cm long with a diameter of 5.2 cm tapering to 2.5 cm.
- Narwhal Horn/Tusk
Unicorns circumvent the world and feature in the myths of many different countries and cultures. A French priest called Abbe Huc from the 19th century stated that the Unicorn originated from Tibet and is known as Serou or Kere in Mongolian. The oldest Unicorn is Ki-Lin of China, which has been known about for 3,000 years. There are others from China, as well as the Catazonon of India and Unicorns from Ethiopia and the Middle East. Here in the UK it is probably best known from the Royal Coat of Arms of Scotland, which has two supporting unicorns. Later it was joined with the Lion of England to represent the 1707 union of Scotland and England in supporting the Royal Arms of the United Kingdom. The Arms of the Worshipful Society of Apothecaries in London also has two golden Unicorns as supporters.
Today there is still a desire to discover that real Unicorns exist and many attempts have been made in the 20th century to create one. In the 1930s a Dr. W. Franklin Dove of Maine in America manipulated a calf’s horn buds to create a bull with a single horn growing out of the middle of its head. Although this experiment did not offer an explanation about the existence of Unicorns, it did show that it was possible for animals to grow a single horn. Fifty years later on, Oberon Zell-Ravenhart, the founder of the Church of All Worlds in America used the same procedure on a white kid-goat to produce Lancelot, the “Living Unicorn”. Lancelot later became a great attraction at the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus.
Zell-Ravenhart and wife Morning
Glory with Lancelot the living Unicorn
as a Totem animal or Spirit Guide:
a guide the Western Unicorn is generally thought of as a symbol of purity,
grace and hope, and as a guide, tells us
to find these things within ourselves and rediscover our sense of wonder in all
the beauty and goodness that surrounds us.
When Unicorn visits it could mean that he wants you to reach-out and
extend good will and generosity toward others, or is he letting us know that
someone near to us is in need of our help and attention??
The Unicorn is connected with Nature and the Spirits of the Forest, the Fairy Folk, and all animals who dwell in the animal Kingdom. Here he is a symbol of strength, endurance and wisdom, and in this guise he helps us to find and develop our personal powers and nurture it. To stand-up and be proud of all our achievements (“Nothing is impossible for you if you set your mind to it”). But he also installs in you “wisdom”, to tread cautiously and weigh all option before decision-making. He will also bring you great powers of healing and unlock your own potential as a healer allowing you to connect deeply with others.
Not forgetting the symbolism of his colour:
“White is the colour of innocence, purity and perfection. White, which is symbolically similar to silver, represents the lunar, feminine aspects of receptivity, instinct, intuition and virginity. Virginity in its truest metaphysical and alchemical aspect represents the unadulterated (untainted) mind and spirit; it is the prima materia (pure matter) and the prisca sapientia (pristine knowledge, or Wisdom). It is for this reason that to have a Unicorn appear to us is both a great honour and Divine Gift. Only the pure of heart and virtuous of deed are deserving to have Unicorn appear to them.” **
As the Unicorn is predominately recognisable in the form of a Horse, a symbol of Travel and Movement, so to is the Unicorn a spiritual Horse. It has the ability to Travel and appear wherever and whenever it wishes and throughout all realms and dimensions. In this guise he teaches us how to breakdown the barriers in our lives and step forward with courage and determination into the unknown, and to some, what may be an uncertain future.
The single, spiralled Horn of the Unicorn is symbolic of the endless Cycles of Time. It is also symbolic of the Sword, and as the Sword symbolizes the mind, so the Horn signifies Unity of Thought and Purity of Reason. The Horn also protrudes from the centre of the Unicorns forehead, which is the location of the crown Chakra. The crown Chakra represents the “Border Between Realms”, and is the highest level to which our minds can attain. This is the Spiritual Gateway to the higher realms of Spirituality and Divine Consciousness, and if requested Unicorn will lead you there.
So this year as we transition from 2016 (and leave past baggage behind), and enter into the new adventures to be gained in 2017, what better then if Unicorn calls, to heed his calling and follow his teachings, or call on his help should you need him :-)
Best wishes to all for the New Year 2017, and may your chalice tonight be made of Alicorn :-D
Man, Myth and Magic - Edited by Richard Cavendish
Animal-Wise: The Spirit Language and Signs of Nature - by Ted Andrews
Animal-Speak - by Ted Andrews
** Quoted from: http://www.aseekersthoughts.com/2010/05/unicorn-as-symbol.html
and compiled on the 31st December 2016 © George Knowles
Best wishes and Blessed Be
Site Contents - Links to all Pages
A Universal Message:
Let there be peace in the world - Where have all the flowers gone?
Wicca & Witchcraft
The Wiccan Rede / Charge of the Goddess / Charge of the God / The Three-Fold Law (includes The Law of Power and The Four Powers of the Magus) / The Witches Chant / The Witches Creed / Descent of the Goddess / Drawing Down the Moon / The Great Rite Invocation / Invocation of the Horned God / The 13 Principles of Wiccan Belief / The Witches Rede of Chivalry / A Pledge to Pagan Spirituality
Traditions Part 1 - Alexandrian Wicca / Aquarian Tabernacle Church (ATC) / Ár Ndraíocht Féin (ADF) / Blue Star Wicca / British Traditional (Druidic Witchcraft) / Celtic Wicca / Ceremonial Magic / Chaos Magic / Church and School of Wicca / Circle Sanctuary / Covenant of the Goddess (COG) / Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans (CUUPS) / Cyber Wicca / Dianic Wicca / Eclectic Wicca / Feri Wicca /
Traditions Part 2 - Gardnerian Wicca / Georgian Tradition / Henge of Keltria / Hereditary Witchcraft / Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn (H.O.G.D.) / Kitchen Witch (Hedge Witch) / Minoan Brotherhood and Minoan Sisterhood Tradition / Nordic Paganism / Pagan Federation / Pectic-Wita / Seax-Wica / Shamanism / Solitary / Strega / Sylvan Tradition / Vodoun or Voodoo / Witches League of Public Awareness (WLPA) /
Other things of interest:
Gods and Goddesses (Greek Mythology) / Esbats & Full Moons / Links to Personal Friends & Resources / Wicca/Witchcraft Resources / What's a spell? / Circle Casting and Sacred Space / Pentagram - Pentacle / Marks of a Witch / The Witches Power / The Witches Hat / An esoteric guide to visiting London / Satanism / Pow-wow / The Unitarian Universalist Association / Numerology: Part 1 / Part 2 / Part 3 / A history of the Malleus Maleficarum: includes: Pope Innocent VIII / The papal Bull / The Malleus Maleficarum / An extract from the Malleus Maleficarum / The letter of approbation / Johann Nider’s Formicarius / Jacob Sprenger / Heinrich Kramer / Stefano Infessura / Montague Summers / The Waldenses / The Albigenses / The Hussites / The Native American Sun Dance / Shielding (Occult and Psychic Protection) /
Sabbats and Festivals:
The Sabbats in History and Mythology / Samhain (October 31st) / Yule (December 21st) / Imbolc (February 2nd) / Ostara (March 21st) / Beltane (April 30th) / Litha (June 21st) / Lammas/Lughnasadh (August 1st) / Mabon (September 21st)
Rituals contributed by Crone:
Animals in Witchcraft (The Witches Familiar and Totem Animals) / Antelope / Bats / Crow / Fox / Frog and Toads / Goat / Honeybee / Kangaroo / Lion / Owl / Phoenix / Rabbits and Hares / Raven / Robin Redbreast / Sheep / Spider / Squirrel / Swans / Unicorn / Wild Boar / Wolf / Serpent / Pig / Stag / Horse / Mouse / Cat / Rats / Unicorn
In Worship of Trees - Myths, Lore and the Celtic Tree Calendar. For descriptions and correspondences of the thirteen sacred trees of Wicca/Witchcraft see the following: Birch / Rowan / Ash / Alder / Willow / Hawthorn / Oak / Holly / Hazel / Vine / Ivy / Reed / Elder
Rocks and Stones:
Articles contributed by Patricia Jean Martin:
Apophyllite / Amber / Amethyst / Aquamarine / Aragonite / Aventurine / Black Tourmaline / Bloodstone / Calcite / Carnelian / Celestite / Citrine / Chrysanthemum Stone / Diamond / Emerald / Fluorite / Garnet / Hematite / Herkimer Diamond / Labradorite / Lapis Lazuli / Malachite / Moonstone / Obsidian / Opal / Pyrite / Quartz (Rock Crystal) / Rose Quartz / Ruby / Selenite / Seraphinite / Silver and Gold / Smoky Quartz / Sodalite / Sunstone / Thunderegg / Tree Agate / Zebra Marble
Wisdom and Inspiration:
Articles and Stories about Witchcraft:
Murdered by Witchcraft / The Fairy Witch of Clonmel / A Battleship, U-boat, and a Witch / The Troll-Tear (A story for Children) / Goody Hawkins - The Wise Goodwife / The Story of Jack-O-Lantern / The Murder of the Hammersmith Ghost / Josephine Gray (The Infamous Black Widow) / The Two Brothers - Light and Dark
Old Masters of Academia:
(Ancient, Past and Present)
(Departed Pagan Pioneers, Founders, Elders and Others)
Pioneers: Founders, Elders, Leaders and Others
Abramelin the Mage / Agrippa / Aidan A Kelly / Albertus Magnus - “Albert the Great” / Aleister Crowley - “The Great Beast” / Alex Sanders - “King of the Witches” / Alison Harlow / Allan Bennett - the Ven. Ananda Metteyya / Allan Kardec (Spiritism) / Alphonsus de Spina / Amber K / Ann Moura / Anna Franklin / Anodea Judith / Anton Szandor LaVey / Arnold Crowther / Arthur Edward Waite / Austin Osman Spare / Balthasar Bekker / Biddy Early / Barbara Vickers / Bridget Cleary - The Fairy Witch of Clonmel / Carl " Llewellyn" Weschcke / Cecil Hugh Williamson / Charles Godfrey Leland / Charles Walton / Christopher Penczak / Christina Oakley Harrington / Cornelius Loos / Damh the Bard - "Dave Smith" / Dion Fortune / Dolores Aschroft-Nowicki / Donald Michael Kraig / Doreen Valiente / Dorothy Morrison / Dr. John Dee & Edward Kelly / Dr. Leo Louis Martello / Edain McCoy / Edward Fitch / Eleanor Ray Bone - “Matriarch of British Witchcraft” / Eliphas Levi / Ernest Thompson Seton / Ernest Westlake / Fiona Horne / Frederick McLaren Adams - Feraferia / Friedrich von Spee / Francis Barrett / Gavin and Yvonne Frost and the School and Church of Wicca / Gerald B. Gardner - The father of contemporary Witchcraft / Gwydion Pendderwen / Hans Holzer / Helen Duncan / Herman Slater - Horrible Herman / Heinrich Kramer / Isaac Bonewits / Israel Regardie / Ivo Domínguez Jr. / Jack Whiteside Parsons - Rocket Science and Magick / James "Cunning" Murrell - The Master of Witches / Janet Farrar and Gavin Bone / Jean Bodin / Jessie Wicker Bell - “Lady Sheba” / Johann Weyer / Johannes Junius - "The Burgomaster of Bamberg" / Johann Georg Fuchs von Dornheim - the “Hexenbrenner” (witch burner) / John Belham-Payne / John George Hohman - "Pow-wow" / John Gerard / John Gordon Hargrave and the Kibbo Kith Kindred / John Michael Greer / John Score / Joseph “Bearwalker” Wilson / Joseph John Campbell / Karl von Eckartshausen / Lady Gwen Thompson - and "The Rede of the Wiccae" / Laurie Cabot - "the Official Witch of Salem" / Lewis Spence / Lodovico Maria Sinistrari / Ludwig Lavater / Madeline Montalban and the Order of the Morning Star / Margaret Alice Murray / Margot Adler / Michael Howard and the UK "Cauldron Magazine" / Margaret St. Clair - the “Sign of the Labrys” / Marie Laveau - " the Voodoo Queen of New Orleans" / Marion Weinstein / Martin Antoine Del Rio / Matthew Hopkins - “The Witch-Finder General” / Max Ehrmann and the "Desiderata" / Michael A. Aquino - and The Temple of Set / Monique Wilson / Montague Summers / Nicholas Culpeper / Nicholas Remy / M. R. Sellars / Mrs. Maud Grieve - "A Modern Herbal" / Oberon Zell-Ravenheart and Morning Glory / Old Dorothy Clutterbuck / Old George Pickingill / Olivia Durdin-Robertson - co-founder of the Fellowship of Isis / Paddy Slade / Pamela Colman-Smith / Paracelsus / Patricia Crowther / Patricia Monaghan / Patricia “Trish” Telesco / Paul Foster Case and the “Builders of the Adytum” mystery school / Peter Binsfeld / Philip Heselton / Raven Grimassi / Raymond Buckland / Reginald Scot / Richard Baxter / Robert Cochrane / Robert ‘von Ranke’ Graves and the "The White Goddess" / Rosaleen Norton - “The Witch of Kings Cross” / Rossell Hope Robbins / Ross Nichols and the " Order of Bards, Ovates & Druids" (OBOD) / Rudolf Steiner / Sabrina Underwood - "The Ink Witch" / Scott Cunningham / Selena Fox - founder of "Circle Sanctuary" / Silver Ravenwolf / Sir Francis Dashwood / Sir James George Frazer and the " The Golden Bough" / S.L. MacGregor Mathers and the “Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn” / Starhawk / Stewart Farrar / Sybil Leek / Ted Andrews / The Mather Family - (includes: Richard Mather, Increase Mather and Cotton Mather ) / Thomas Ady / T. Thorn Coyle / Vera Chapman / Victor & Cora Anderson and the " Feri Tradition" / Vivianne Crowley / Walter Brown Gibson / Walter Ernest Butler / William Butler Yeats / Zsuzsanna Budapest /
Many of the above biographies are briefs and far from complete. If you know about any of these individuals and can help with additional information, please contact me privately at my email address below. Many thanks for reading :-)
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