Nature Wisdom

With Pat Tuholske, Naturalist

Grace of the Deer

May is alive with sights, sounds and smells — the firefly, birdcall, flower bloom, the doe and fawn. Every day I thrill at nature’s displays. As weather brings you outdoors, may you be graced by the Deer. Be watchful as you drive the roads and look for them at Deer crossing sign. If they are nibbling on your suburban landscape, consider planting Deer-resistant ornamental species. Since we often share a habitat, we must learn to live together.

Our farm has herds of Deer grazing upon it. Their trails are easy to find – trodden paths through tall grasses extending into the cover of the forest. They are stately creatures of place and habit, visiting the same watering holes and bedding down in familiar soft spots. Their hoof prints, antler rubbings, nibbled weeds mark their passing.

Deer have extremely keen senses that help them survive. They are acutely aware of their surroundings and listen to the other creatures around them. Blending well with their environment, they sense every sound and movement. Observing them can help you refine your own senses and intuition. Deer wisdom brings the ability to be vigilant, move quickly, and trust your instincts.

Humans and Deer have had a long relationship. Deerskin was used for clothing, shelter and drums as the meat fed the people. Deer Clans honored the Deer of ancient earth with cave paintings, rib bone rattles and ceremonial masks. Archeological digs in Europe have unearthed mummies tattooed with Deer motifs. Ancient shamans considered Deer the oldest animal and a symbol of regeneration because of the stag’s ability to shed and regrow antlers each year.

St. Patrick and his followers invoked The Deer’s Cry, a moving prayer that would strengthen and protect. Finn McCool, ancient forest hero and master of animals, ran with kindred who walked as Deer. The Huichol Indians of Mexico revere the Dance of the Deer, an intense sacred dance that opens the doorway to the Divine.

The Deer Clan of the Cherokee is the keeper of Deer Medicine. As trackers, they teach of the Deer and its habitat, including its self-sacrifice to provide the tribe with food and clothing. As messengers, they teach the knowledge of grace, compassion and unconditional love. Deer holds the heart-space of the Great Spirit.

Deer can teach us about quiet dignity and gentleness of spirit. People who relate to the Deer are often intuitive, sensitive, and have well developed perceptions. They exhibit generosity, empathy and elegance; understand what’s necessary for survival; have gratitude for life and the ability to surrender to the higher good. They seem to walk with an inner light that dispels all shadows. Those drawn into kinship with the Deer Clan tend to be poets, storytellers, and seekers bringing back what has been buried, lost and taken.

Deer are one of the most fascinating creatures on earth. Presiding over the sovereignty of the forest, their noble presence embodies the wild passions within all of nature. May the Deer forever run wild and free.

Check out Pat’s “Nature Chronicles” for musings on the Human-Nature relationship. Go to pattuholske.com. See her wild wreaths and remedies crafted from Ozark native plants at willowrainherbalgoods.com.