I saw this article yesterday, and was immediately gripped – first, by the sheer tragedy and unnecessary nature of it, and second, by the overt and powerful symbolism.
From the article:
The RSPCA said that it advised officers to leave the deer to make its own way home, explaining that deer sightings in urban areas are becoming increasingly common. But the police said that there was “no option to let the deer wander as it could be a danger to motorists and members of the public in the area”, particularly as the hours of darkness approached.
I read this as, “It’s going to take too long and too much work to try to save the deer, so we just decided to do it the ‘easy’ way and kill it.” Now to be fair, I’m not saying the officers involved were evil people, and perhaps they really did feel that there was no other option, that peoples lives were being endangered. But that thought alone exposes a couple of salient points.
One is the fact that the whole reason the deer was in the town to begin with is because human development has encroached on their natural habitats so much that there really is no chance that deer WON’T show up in towns. And that goes for other wildlife as well. As humanity gobbles up more and more real estate and associated resources, the animals get less and less, and are starting to venture into human towns and cities more in search of food, water, etc. I don’t think animals actually WANT to come into towns, they are probably going out of necessity, loss of natural habitat, or even confusion. Given that, seems we could go out of our way to try to show some understanding and compassion, or – shocker – even have plans in place ahead of time to handle such situations that don’t result in the death of the animal.
The other fact, closely related to the previous one, is that we tend to think that the Earth – all of it, the land, oceans, rivers, mountains, sky – it’s all ours, to do with whatever we wish. And anything, or anyone, who gets in the way can simply be removed. That goes for animals, and also people. The Native Americans found out that applied to them as well – the whole ‘manifest destiny’ thing. So there was no question who had the right to be in the town and who didn’t. We are humans, rulers, given “dominion” over all of creation by god himself, so we can, and do, whatever we wish. The deer had to go. And if it had to be killed to remove it, so be it – was just an animal.
I already had an idea of the importance of the symbolism of the white stag, as I’m sure most people would – especially considering the fact that in the books and films, Harry Potter’s Patronus is a white stag. I figured it was basically a symbol for nature itself, and in particular, the Forest Spirit. But I was surprised to learn that it’s actually a little more than that, and even MORE symbolic:
“The white stag or hart is an unusual and elusive animal who has special meaning in ancient cultures. The Celts believed he brought messages from the spirit world. As well, he would appear as a moral reminder if person was veering off the path of righteousness.
In the legends of King Arthur, the white stag represented the pursuit of a spiritual quest.
In Christian art, like the mystical White Unicorn, the White Stag represents Christ. Sometimes, the White Stag wears a golden crown and chain, both of which are emblems of Christ’s suffering for all of humanity. Here, the color white takes on a different connotation, symbolizing deep spirituality, illumination, faith, humility, protection, perfection, and the Heavens. Stories tell of people meeting a White Stag that inspires tremendous spiritual changes in the individual.
So, it symbolizes
- A messenger from the spirit world reminding someone they are veering off the path of righteousness
- The pursuit of a spiritual quest
- Christ, and deep spirituality and tremendous spiritual changes for the individual who encounters it/him
Wow. The connotations and powerful symbolism are absolutely striking. If I knew anything about any of this stuff, I might propose that the killing of it heralds huge changes are are coming, soon; in particular, those of a spiritual nature – for individuals, and humankind as a whole. A lot of us have been feeling that something big is coming – I think there’s little question of that now.