What does it mean when you find a dead 11-point buck deer in your backyard 7 days before the winter solstice?
It took me a few days to even begin to pull on the threads of its significance. At first, we just blessed him, and pulled him into the edge of the woods. This was a deer that we knew – and we called him Bucky – he had been foraging our flowers and garden plants for 4 years at least and keeping many does happy. Had Bucky brought us a message? It seemed clear he wanted to die in our yard where he was known and would be honored. Did he come to bring us the gifts of his glorious antlers, and why? A horned stag is a significant animal with many sacred traditions, lore and myths. And being a week before the winter solstice? Significantly, in Celtic lore, the horned god dies before the winter solstice, to be reborn again on or after the solstice.
It was very clear that we were to keep Bucky’s antlers as a way of accepting his gift and of honoring and remembering him. Then there was the reality of how to make that happen, with a dead deer in a suburban yard of people who don’t hunt, and with no proper tools, but fortunately we knew a few people who do. We could have pulled him out to the street and had the Dept of Highways pick him up, but that seemed cold and not at all what he wanted, plus he was big and heavy! He wanted his body to be in the forest behind our house, and his antlers gifted to us. And so, the next day everything just fell in place, with my husband Dan and I working together in a deeply satisfying way, finding a friend to help us with the gruesome part that had to be confronted – separating his head from his body, and Dan took the lead on that part, thank goodness for me! With that done, we realized we needed a taxidermist and a non-kill tag from the DNR to make it legal. And taxidermists do not advertise – only word of mouth around here. But we were led, and everything fell into place, and in a few hours Bucky’s head was in the hands of a very nice taxidermist and his body hauled deeper into the woods. Then the vultures – nature’s clean-up crew – went to work, which was also fascinating, watching those huge birds making their way in the forest. Bucky is now well on his way to going back to the dirt of the land he lived on, feeding future generations of plants and animals. Such a blessing.
The deeper symbolism for me from Bucky is that I heard again the original message of “heal the land” that I heard for the first time about 18 months ago when I started writing. Also, Bucky is bringing home to me a message of the balance the sacred masculine brings, which is also a confirmation of my own marriage, of how precious it is and how strong it can be when it is tied to deep trust, as well as the land and the divine. Both the Sacred Masculine and the Sacred Feminine work together in any healthy relationship (no matter the gender) and the Sacred Marriage of the two is where creation begins, where life begins, again, here at the winter solstice when the light begins to return.
Images: 1) Bucky the day we found him 2) my husband Dan with his head 3) the vultures 4) a process painting I did where Bucky and his doe appeared – aka Dan & myself.