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  • rachelcostigan3

The Deer and the Fawn

Updated: Nov 29, 2020

A visit to a shamanic practitioner closed with a question: “is an animal present?”. I looked around behind my eyelids and, in amongst the pine trees I visualised was a deer, gentle and shy. I was underwhelmed, it seemed so stereotyped, and wasn't even a stag with magnificent antlers. It was a timid doe, who watched me from the trees and merged with the shadows when I looked for her too intently. I was puzzled as to what help she could be.


It took a few years for me to understand the significance of this creature.


In the next visit I was pondering my purpose in life: What is my path? The answer came back 'Truth'. Pangs of guilt for times I've shied away from speaking the truth flushed through me. Then 'Love' it clarified. Another cliché I thought, and kept quiet. I came to understand this as finding the truth beyond the illusions of earthly life. The truth that is simply Love Eternal. Although it wasn't the sort of practical advice my mind had been hoping for, it did signal towards a wider purpose.


A couple of years on, and I am leading my yoga teacher through a meditation, part of the process of graduating as a meditation facilitator. Towards the end of the practice, as I am sitting on the edge of bliss waiting for the next words to come, I describe a sense of joy pouring out of the heart. We imagine it tumbling down the hillside, blessing every being it touches with delight.


I sense the joy with the spirit of an animal: youthful, tender, full of life, and for some reason with gangly legs. A fawn! And I realise Universal Love is the source of Joy. The pieces fall into place - the elusive doe in the woods who I have been coaxing out with my heart focused meditation is love. Joy is the offspring of the heart feeling we nurture in our practice.


I can't believe I hadn't recognised her sooner. I first encountered the symbolism of the deer at Mandala Ashram. The deer, or antelope, is the symbol for the Anahata, or heart chakra. I had drawn one for some of their graphics, as they use the Anahata symbol as their logo. I had been asked to redraw it because the Anahata deer doesn't have big antlers, which I mistakenly included in my first draft.


I feel honoured to have had the deer tenderly watching over me in the woods that day, and ultimately I’m grateful that my direct experience revealed her significance. Her graceful humility is a lesson for following the spiritual path, reminding me that from softness comes the possibility for growth.

Young stag
I don't even have a photo of a doe


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