I hit a deer today, after acknowledging one passing deer, I had failed to spot the other that jumped in front of my car. I was instantly put into a state of near shock and I am still shaken by this. Despite slamming on the breaks, the collision ended up killing the poor thing.
In some ways I feel that the car and myself represents our violent and overbearing society while the deer represents the innocent and peaceful spirit of nature that we encroach upon. I sat there stunned; in shock and in awe. I stood before a bounty of beast…. this gift of Gaia, but not as a hunter or a gatherer, no. I stood before the vestige of this creature as a destroyer.. a ruiner of nature.
I had hit and killed a deer and this left me mortified. What made it worse was the thought that I was not able to use what it left behind in its passing. Many ancient cultures understood the importance of these animals and utilized every part of them with little to no waste. I was scared that this meant its life will have been meaningless and the bounty it offers will go to waste.
I felt a need to pay homage to its spirit, its the least I could do. I couldn’t do anything for the poor thing when it was alive, but like many cultures throughout history, I believe I can offer prayers and libations to venerate the dead.
I read about ancestor worship in order to find peace as I sought the advice of strangers on how to properly honor the dead. As I read about the beautiful ways people pay reverence to the deceased, my heart started to lighten.
I decided to offer a simple prayer for Cernunnos to help the deer’s spirit return to it’s own kind, an offering of fruit to appease deer’s spirit, and the burning of a candle to help light its way home.
“You are incorrect. It’s bounty will not be wasted.
It will return to the Earth and it will be given to the things that dwell within the Earth and that groweth upon the Earth.
Know now man that nothing is a straight line and ye are not essential to the Earth.
If you believe killing the animal with your car was somehow interfering in the intended pattern of nature… then replace what you took.
You can dig can’t you? Plant a tree then if it makes you feel better.
The Earth has gained twice then.”
“Often a simple prayer, lifted towards the heaven’s is sufficient, a wish to bring it home, to his own kind.
“May you return to your own kind. May your soul depart in peace.”
Do not blame yourself.”
I found out that these creatures universally embody the same traits world wide which most notably is their representation of renewal, symbolized by the molting of their antlers and the ensuing regrowth thereof and their prevalence around the world.
Deer are considered as the incarnate of peace, grace, and innocence in many parts of the world, but there are also a few cultures that see the deer as spiritual guides and beasts of great strength and nobility. Their antlers were often considered conduits for God.
Some cultures believe that Cernunnos comforts the dead by singing songs as the spirits travel towards their destinations.
He wears antlers from a stag, which are directly associated with Cernunnos. The stags also embody Mabon, a Pagan celebration that focuses on the balance of day and night, the second harvest before winter, and the start of the hunting season.
Cernunnos embodies the passing of seasons. His prominent trait of renewal is actually an analogy for certain astrological events.
In Autumn the world starts to slowly fall dormant and lifeless, only to awaken in full bloom come spring.
The death and rebirth of nature theme represents the Autumnal and Spring equinoxes which were often celebrated in ancient times in civilizations throughout the world.
Hoof and horn, hoof and horn
All that dies shall be reborn
Corn and grain, corn and grain
All that falls shall rise again
Hoof and Horn