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Deities

A List of 5 Deities That are Associated with Deer

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Written by: Tina Caro

Majestic and full of dignity, the deer is one of the most peaceful animals. They are said to be the guardians of the forest and guides to those who enter it with respect and desire to learn the mysteries of the natural kingdoms.

The deer observes, waits, and then in one leap snaps away with all its grace and extreme resistance. It shows us how it is possible for a prey animal to preserve its life with mere presence. It has its own royal and sure way of walking and holding his head high despite the weight he carries and is in fact linked to balance and dignity.

Did you know that there are deities associated with deers? If you feel a connection with this spirit animal and you want to connect with a deity as well, keep reading this article!

KEY TAKEAWAYS

Deer are often associated with qualities such as grace, gentleness, and the cycle of life in various cultures and mythologies. Here are some deities and gods commonly linked to deer:

  1. Artemis (Greek Mythology): Artemis is the Greek goddess of the hunt, wilderness, and the Moon. She is often depicted with a deer or stag, symbolizing her connection to the natural world and the hunt.
  2. Cernunnos (Celtic Mythology): Cernunnos is a Celtic god associated with nature, fertility, and the forest. He is often depicted with antlers, signifying his connection to deer and the animal kingdom.
  3. Elen of the Ways (Celtic Mythology): Elen of the Ways is a figure in Celtic mythology associated with deer paths and migration routes. She represents the journey and guidance.
  4. Freya (Norse Mythology): Freya is a Norse goddess associated with love, fertility, and beauty. She is sometimes depicted riding in a chariot drawn by cats or riding a boar, but her connection to deer is also recognized.
  5. Maponus (Celtic Mythology): Maponus is a Celtic god of youth, music, and hunting. He is sometimes depicted with a lyre and associated with the deer.
  6. Marishi-Ten (Japanese Shinto): Marishi-Ten is a Japanese Shinto deity associated with the protection of Buddhist teachings. She is often depicted riding a white deer.
  7. Saraswati (Hinduism): Saraswati, the Hindu goddess of knowledge, music, and the arts, is sometimes associated with a white swan or deer. She symbolizes creativity and wisdom.
  8. The White Stag (Various Mythologies): In various mythologies, a white stag or deer is often seen as a sacred and elusive creature, representing spiritual quests or journeys.
  9. Lugh (Celtic Mythology): Lugh, a Celtic god of light, is sometimes associated with deer. He represents various aspects of skill, including hunting.
  10. Horned God (Neopaganism): In Neopagan and Wiccan traditions, the Horned God is a deity associated with nature, the hunt, and the changing seasons. He often takes the form of a horned or antlered figure, reflecting the deer’s symbolism.

These deities and gods associated with deer highlight the diverse cultural interpretations of these animals, symbolizing qualities such as grace, fertility, the cycle of life, and the connection between humans and the natural world. Deer often play significant roles in myths and rituals worldwide.

5 Mighty Deities That Are Associated with Deer

God Cernunnos

Gundestrup_Cernunnos
Cernunnos

Cernunnos, in Celtic mythology, is the spirit of male animals with horns, especially deer and fawns. From archaeological sources, God Cernunnos was worshiped in Gaul, on the Italian peninsula, in Cisalpine Gaul, and on the southern coast of the British island.

Emblem of fecundity, of the animal kingdom, in particular of horned species and wild nature, the God Cernunnos was always represented as a divinity with horns. It seems that Cernunnos was however a deity worshiped by pagan and pre-Celtic peoples, of shamanic and esoteric origins, residing on the Indo-European peninsula.

Many representations and engravings from the Paleolithic era dating back to 3000 BC. of the population of the Indus valley depict the Horned God as the God of the Underworld, emblem, and means taken in Roman times with the depiction of the same as Dis Pater or Dite, a figure in turn taken by Dante Alighieri in the Inferno of the Divine Comedy.

Artemis/Diana

artemis with a deer
Artemis with a hind, better known as “Diana of Versailles”. Marble, Roman artwork, Imperial Era (1st-2nd centuries CE). Found in Italy

In Greek mythology, a particularly significant story is known where the protagonists are divinity and a Man. We are talking about the Goddess Artemis and Actaeon, a myth that can take on different meanings depending on the point of view we attribute to it. A multifaceted legend, atrocious in some ways and expressive in others. Artemis, as we all know, was the goddess of the hunt, a virgin goddess armed with a golden bow and arrows.

She hunted in the woods with his reliable hunting dogs and a host of nymphs. Actaeon was the son of Aristeo and Autonoe but was raised by the centaur Chiron who taught him hunting techniques. According to the main version of this myth, which is the most widespread and well-known one, on a particularly hot day, the Goddess Artemis decided to cool off with her Nymphs in a lake in the shadow of the Gargafia forest.

Actaeon was in the middle of a hunting trip. He was chasing a wild boar with his hounds when he found himself in front of a pond. He saw the goddess Artemis and her naked handmaids taking a bath there. When Artemis noticed Actaeon’s gaze, angry and red with shame for having been exposed to the judgment of a mortal and not having bow and arrow at hand, she decided to throw water on him, transforming him into a young deer.

At first, Actaeon did not even realize what had happened to him but when he reached a pool of water, he looked at himself and learned of the spell. Meanwhile, his 50 dogs caught up with him and not having recognized their master, they pounced on him and tore him to pieces. Artemis is the Greek version of the Roman goddess Diana.

Daal

An illustration of the Svan goddess Dali by the Svan artist Vakhtang Oniani. Cover of a Georgian translation of the Svan ballad გივერგილ/Givergil, published in 1969.

Daal is the Georgian goddess. She is a hunting goddess and a patron of the forest’s deers and other horned animals. She is often represented as a beautiful naked woman who lives in the wild and can even shapeshift into one of her favorite animals.

 

Legends have it that Daal would defend her beloved horned animals at all costs and, in some cases, some hunters even died because they marked animals or captured them. But it’s not that she hated hunters, not at all. She only wanted them to be as respectful as they could to animals, and she was very keen to receive some offerings in her name to bless hunters with amazing gifts.

Herne

Illustration of Herne the Hunter by George Cruikshank. Published 1840s

Herne is a god of English folklore. We need to know his story to understand his association with deers. One day, a king decided to go hunting in his own forests, he was accompanied only by Herne because he believed that he was the best hunter and therefore worthy of the king’s company; It seemed to be a sluggish hunt because they had been unable to find anything to hunt for most of the day until suddenly Herne saw a mighty, beautiful deer.

Herne tried to approach it, but he was mortally wounded by the deer antlers and fell stunned to the ground, but the mighty animal was also affected by the impact and fell unconscious to the ground.

Meanwhile, the king fled for fear of the deer awakening. Fate wanted a Druid to pass by who, seeing the hunter unconscious, did his utmost to help him, also resorted to his arts to restore Herne to health, but nothing worked. The Druid then understood that the only way to get man back to health was to give him the life force of the same deer he was hunting.

Herne however, in order to get his life back, had to give his hunting skills in exchange. Suddenly Herne woke up and returned to a new life together with the deer. It had become what he had always hunted, his appearance had changed: his spirit had joined with that of the animal so that his appearance was neither that of a man nor that of a beast. On his head, he now had long branched horns and his skin was now as white as the coat of a deer, his eyes had become red and his own senses had become amplified.

Returned to life, Herne went to the castle to inform the king of what had happened but when he arrived at the castle, he felt observed, all the other hunters now saw him as a monster as well as a thief. The king, once back, had told that the hunter had fled after stealing his magnificent prey.

It was Herne’s word against his sovereign’s. He decided then that he could not live like that and so he decided to take his own life, the next morning the king and the other hunters found Herne hanged on an oak tree. Nobody had the courage to take him down, so they left him there, so nobody cared about him anymore.

During the following night, however, Herne woke up, the life force of the deer did not allow him to sacrifice his life: he was a hunter with extraordinary skills, and he was not allowed to waste them in this way. The deer then came to him and proposed a pact: he would be reborn, but he would have to protect from hunters what he himself had hunted all his life.
Herne agreed, driven by the revenge and hatred he felt towards those who had betrayed and abandoned him. That’s how Herne, god of wild hunt, was born!

Finn mac Cumhail

Finn Mccool Comes to Aid the Fianna. By Stephen Reid

Finn was a mythical hunter-warrior god in Irish mythology. Finn Mac Cumhail, leader of the Fianna, was an experienced hunter and warrior. One day, while he was hunting with his faithful hounds, he met a deer, what better dish for dinner?

The dogs followed him and finally approached him. Unlike the other times though, this time Finn’s dogs Bran and Sheolan, once human beings, started playing with the deer and didn’t seem to be interested in having it for dinner. Finn realized that the deer had some magical power… he didn’t know exactly what, but he took it to the castle with him waiting to find out.

The deer was given a worthy arrangement inside the fortress. When Finn went to bring it some food, he found a beautiful woman in his place. She told him she was a druid who turned her into a deer and when he came her curse was broken. They fell in love right away.

She and Finn got married and had a baby. But then they were forced to separate their ways as Finn left for war and the druid returned to turn her back into a deer, but she disappeared. Finn spent all his life looking for her in vain.

These are the main deities associated with deers. If you feel driven by one of them in particular, you might consider creating a bond, a connection with this deity and the deer a spirit animal to let their energy guide you and your spiritual journey enhanced.

About
Tina Caro

Tina Caro is a witch with more than 10 years of experience, a yogi, an astrologer, and a passionate supporter of all things holistic! She’s also an owner of the website Magickal Spot where she discusses a variety of her favorite topics.

Magickal Spot has helped thousands of readers worldwide, and she’s personally worked with hundreds of clients and helped them manifest desires to have a happier and more abundant life.

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