The white stag is a familiar creature of myth and legend. Its origins are likely in the totemic period of early Indo-European society, particularly the northern societies of the Celts and pre-Indo-European cultures, whose subsistence was gained not only through agriculture, but through hunting. This dependence on deer may be seen in the zoomorphic Celtic god Cernunnos, depicted as being a man with the antlers of a deer.
The white stag in Celtic myth is an indicator that the Otherworld is near. It appears when one is transgressing a taboo--such as when Pwyll tresspassed into Arawn's hunting grounds, or when Peredur entered the Castle of Wonders in his second adventure at the house of the Lame King. It also appears as an impetus to quest--the white stag or hart often appears in the forests around King Arthur's court, sending the knights off on to adventure against gods and fairies. (C. S. Lewis uses this device at both the beginning and end of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.)
It also appears in French romance and lais as a similar indicator, such as in the lais of Marie de France, when Guigemar happens upon the strange sight of a white doe with antlers. He wounds the strange, hermaphroditic--note that word--animal, which curses him to grow up and fall in love.
It is also an important element of Hungarian mythology, which believed that a great white stag led the brothers Hunor and Magar to settle in Scythia. Thus were established the Huns and Magyars.
To Christians, the white stag came to symbolize Christ, perhaps in part inspired by the St. Eustace legend, wherein the Roman soldier Eustace is hunting, and happens upon a deer with a cross between his antlers. Eustace converts on the spot, and is put through numerous tragedies, persecutions, etc., including the death of his family, until being miraculously reunited with them. However, it is clear that this pious legend has pagan predecessors.
It is also worth noting that in Christian iconography, the unicorn is a symbol for Christ. There is a close identification between the white stag and the unicorn, and it can be reasoned that the white stag is the equivalent of the unicorn in these northern cultures, which do not record the existence of unicorns.
The white hart also was the heraldic symbol of England's King Richard II.
The first thing to examine is the color: white is a symbol of purity, while also a symbol of otherworldliness. The white stag in Pwyll penduc Dyfed has a white body with red ears--the typical colors of otherworld creatures (the hounds of Arawn are also this color).
It is also associated with the sun; in Christian iconography, the stag appears with the sun between its horns. Earlier gods associated with the stag were also nature deities: Cernunnos, Fionn, Gwynn ap Nudd. Santa Claus--that half-memory of Odin/Thor--is drawn by eight reindeer--who may or may not be white. (If they live at the North Pole, they most likely are ;-)
The deer, finally, was a source of life, an important resource for early man.
Ultimately, the white stag is not only a creature of the gods, but is a god himself, symbolizing the creative life force of the universe--sex, life, and also death.
White stags have long been associated with mythology and legend, an elusive yet magnificent beast.
King Arthur was left frustrated by his attempts to capture one, as were the Kings and Queens of Narnia, who chased the creature through the woods and found themselves tumbling out of a wardrobe.
Hungarian mythology includes the myths, legends, folk tales, fairy tales and gods of the Hungarians. Many parts of it are thought to be lost, i.e. only some texts remained which can be classified as a myth. However, a significant amount of Hungarian mythology was successfully recovered in the last hundred years. The most important sources are:
* Folklore, as a lot of mythological persons remained in folk tales, folk songs, legends, also special traditions linked to special dates which are not known elsewhere
* Medieval chronicles, codexes
* Writings about Hungarians by non-Hungarian authors (mostly before 850)
* Archeology helped to assemble the religion.
The Mythology of the Stag in Brief
The Hungarian Legend of the Wondrous Stag is one of the oldest legends of the nation. It is so old that it is found in various forms among those nations who were the distant relatives or neighbors of the Hungarians before their settlement in Hungary. The meaning and the wording of the legends may have changed slightly but they all have much in common. Today the remaining legend is relatively short, whereas in the past it was probably much more extensive. However the Hungarian legend despite it's brevity includes in it many important points some of which can be found in most of the related legends found in other cultures. It is these points which show that once, in the remote antiquity, these people were neighbors.
The symbol of the cosmos and the mother of the sun was symbolized as a stag. The great horned doe often was shown carrying the sun in her horns, in some cases the sun itself was symbolized as a stag, the son of the doe of the legend. There is Christmas song told by the Hungarian Regos (Bards) illustrates the stag as the carrier of the sun.
Boy stag of wonder, with horns of a thousand branches and knobs
Thousand branches and knobs and of a thousand bright candles
Amongst its horns it carries the light of the blessed sun
On it's forehead there is a star, on it's chest the moon
And it starts along the banks of the shining heavenly Danube
That it may be the messenger of heaven and bringer of news
About our creator and caring god
The stag here represents not the sun, but it's mother, the heavenly firmament, the cosmos, which carries the stars, the sun and the moon in it's "horns". For this reasons Scythian stags often represented the horns of the stag like flames.
The Remnants of the Hun Legend of the Stag
According to the Byzantine historian, Procopius, the nation of the Utigurs and Kutigur Huns originates from the twin sons of a Hun king. The twins separated from their father during the hunting of the stag. These Huns also had two sons, princes called Mauger and Gorda (Magyar and Hunugur?), who ruled after the deaths of their fathers.
Another descendant of the Huns are the Uygur (Yugor, Ugor) of eastern China which even by their name appear to be related to the Hungarians. In their legend, a once great emperor had two sons called Tartar (Hunor) and Mungli (Maugor) who became the ancestors of the Tartars and the Mongols. [Abul Ghazi Bahadur, a 17th century historian of Khiva]
This recalls the close association that the Caucasian Ujgurs had with the Mongol royal family and is tied to a later historical event, rather than to the original ancient legend of origin.
The Persian Version
In a Persian legend of the very early (pre-Aryan) period, when Iran was civilized by a western Mesopotamian ruler, Takma Urupi (Takma=Tana) whose wife was Eneth. Eneth or Nana are names of the mother goddess of waters, rivers, and fertility among Mesopotamian and Scythian peoples. She was symbolized by Virgo.
In the legends of Iran the ruler Feridun, a Scythian king who was a descendant of Takhma Urupi (Nimrod), has three sons Tura, Sin, and Iredj. The first two stick together against the third son who inherits Iran. Tura becomes the ancestor of the Turanians, that is Scythians and Huns. Nimrod was known by several names in the Near East and was also symbolized by the constellations Sagittarius and Orion amongst the Turanian/Scythian nations.
The Persian Legend of the Stag is Scythian in origin: Prince Rustvan-shad (Rustam?), the son of the Chinese emperor (an eastern emperor, more likely the HUNs not the HANs) was hunting while he came across a wondrous stag: his fur was blue (a heavenly symbol), and his eyes looked like rubies, his hooves shone as though they were of gold.
This stag always lead him on and eluded him, he never could catch him. Finally it lead him to a small lake where it jumped into it's center and disappeared. The prince therefore camped and went to sleep and when he awoke he heard gay laughing and music. Following the sounds he heard, he came to a wondrous marble palace, and there surrounded by a dozen beautiful young girls, sitting on a throne, was a beautiful goddess of a girl. He asked her who she was, and she replied "Only a tame DOE, and my name is Sehr-istani."
The Egyptian Chase of the Ram
Whether we illustrate the story as the chase of the Stag or Ram is irrelevant because the name of the stag is based on the word horned, and can be any horned animal which is the symbol of the rebirth of light. The Egyptian Cushite version of the chase explains the chase of the "Horned" by the national god-hero Osiris as follows.
As to how the ram became the symbol of Osiris, the following tradition has survived: When Osiris was returning home after his triumphant African tour, he and his army were unable to find water and were in a terrible state of dehydration. They were on the verge of death when a ram appeared in front of them. They viewed the appearance of the ram as a heavenly sighn and they at once gave chase. To their great astonishment and relief the ram lead them to the shade and cool waters of an oasis. Osiris (Dionysius) explained the event by saying that the ram was Amon (who is symbolized as a ram) and to show his gratitude he raised a temple to his honor on the spot.
Amon was elevated to the stars as the constellation of Aries (the ram) so that when the sun is in the house of Aries in spring, nature shall revive it's life. The Egyptian dictionary explains that the word Cush also means RAM, and this word is in accordance with the Hungarian word for ram KOSH. Nimrod and his people were Cushites, and they also ruled Egypt at one time before founding Babylon.
The Greek Version
The Greeks also inherited many legends from their Scythian neighbors, which included distorted versions of this story. Many Scythians were hired into Greek armies, and some were servants. Certain Scythians became prominent teachers in Greek cities.
In the Greek story the twin sons of Zeus and Nemesis are known as Castor and Pollux. (Gemini) Castor and his brother Pollux steal the daughters of Leukepius. (Leuk=white) Castor is the Cushite Tura, a son of Nimrod after whom northern Mesopotamia (Eturia) and the Aral and Caspian lowlands (Turan) were named. Pollux or Polydeuces is Polli, or Apollo the sun god whose other Near Eastern name is Makar (Magor). Zeus was once a king in the Near East, a Cushite king (Nimrod) which the Greeks deified.
Another Scythian legend recorded by the Greeks states that the sons of the Scythian king named Scythes were Palos (Pollux) and Naes (Castor,Nesus ancient ancestors of the Cushites). The meaning of SAKA, from which Scyth comes from means Chief, Lord.
Another Greek recorded the legend of the MEGARI of Anatolia, and of course translated it into it's Greek equivalent, with slight changes. Here Zeus marries a Scythian Nymph of the area, and from their union is born Megaros, the ancestor of the people of Megari.Again the Scythian connection is emphasized with the results that the Megari, Magyari nation is created.)
The Finnish Version
In the Kalevala, the Finnish national epic, the stag is the favorite animal of the queen of the underworld (Yumala), which leads the hero to his doom. Kaleva is the mythical kingdom where much of the epic takes place. It can be equated with Kalama of the Sumerians.
In the legend of the Ostjak, the hunting pair, with their whole tribe are hunting for a reindeer. The animal baited them on towards the north, where finally it turned into fog. In the age, when the first ice-rain (snow) began to fall. (The coming of the ice age trapped the hunting nation?)
In northern Siberia, the heavenly reindeer, symbolized by the big dipper, steals the sun, and that is why there is no sun for half a year in the arctic. When the mythical hunter, who is often symbolized by a bear, kills the female reindeer, it starts the new days.
This is an important key to the stories, for the chase after the stag is a hunt for the return of the sun, which during winter is taken by the stag. The hunters are searching for it's light and heat, perhaps a southern migration from northern pastures with the coming of winter? The recapturing of it (the sighting of the southern constellation?) then brings back summer. The girls of the legend are the does, the daughters of light, who return the light and fertility of the sun. For that reason they have names which indicate "light, white, burning."
The Japanese Version
The twin brothers chase the stag. They get into an argument, probably about which way the stag disappeared, and one brother goes east and finds Japan, while the other goes west.
The Maya Indian Version
The sons of Hun Hun-apu, the god of the hunt, are the heavenly twins (Gemini),known as Hunapu (Hunor) who is warlike like his father and Ixbalenque (Asfali=Magor), who is more peaceful. Their adventures, with their 400 warriors includes the kidnaping the women. Their jealous half brothers chased them, but they turned them into monkeys (i.e. make monkeys of them?).
The Astrological Symbology of the Chase of the Stag
We must remember that in the early times the zodiac was not based on 12 stations but only 8 representing two quad cycles one represented by Aries (ancestor), Sagittarius (father), Virgo (mother) and Gemini (twins,children). The second quadrant which is between these events is the cycles of nature the seasons and the elements of nature. Aquarius (water,winter), Scorpio (air), Leo (sun, summer), Taurus (earth, spring). The signs have shifted in meaning and relevance since this very early time. The following legend originates from the time of the hunters and still uses the old zodiac rather than the new 12 station one. The sequence also first goes through the cycle of generation then through the cycles of nature.
There is a close identification between the white stag and the unicorn, and it can be reasoned that the white stag is the equivalent of the unicorn in many northern cultures, which do not record the existence of unicorns.
The majestic wild animal - long associated with mystery and good luck - was filmed by the wildlife enthusiast.
Ken, 66, has been filming and photographing wildlife in the area for the past six years - but had never seen a white stag.
'I was very surprised to see it,' he said.
'I was camped in a shelter and was really fortunate. It just strolled right in front of me and calmly wandered around.
'He is a beautiful creature and it's really nice to be able to show people who perhaps can't make it into woodland what beautiful animals roam out there.
'I was lucky to be able to get some footage of it as well as the battery on my camera was running out.
'I wasn't sure I'd actually got it until I got home.
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