Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Mythology and Folklore: Part 4

The Legend of the White Stag

Picture credit: Pinterest

The story of the White Stag spread throughout the Northern Hemisphere, from Japan to the British Isles.

Turan people consider the deer sacred because on its antlers it carries the sun and the moon and leads the chosen people from darkness to light, from death to life, and from old to new homelands.

Picture credit: Pinterest

In Hun-Hungarian mythology, the miraculous deer is the most significant animal. The stag's antlers symbolize the world tree and people's relationship with the sky. The shedding and regrowth of the antlers symbolize the cycles of life, disappearance, and rebirth. The golden deer leads man back to the ancient wisdom.

Picture credit: Pinterest

According to Hungarian (Magyar) legend that was preserved in the 13th-century chronicle Gesta Hunnorum et Hungarorum by Simon of Kéza, while out hunting, two brothers Hunor and Magor saw a miraculous white stag (sometimes described as golden). They pursued the animal, but it always stayed ahead of them, leading them westward into Levedia, where they married two princesses and founded the Hun and Magyar people. One of the main reasons for claims of religious and cultural ties between Huns and Magyars is the stag and the brothers Hunor and Magor.

Picture credit: http://osihimnuszunk.network.hu/kepek/csodaszarvasok/csodaszarvas-010

When I was researching Hun history for my trilogy, The Ancestors' Secrets, I came across this ballad that was translated from Hungarian that mentions the "doe with horns". It was confusing that the legend mentions "stag" a male deer, but this ballad specifically says female deer with horns (antlers) Later I've found a short article about it that explained the confusion. In Hun legends, the male and female represented equally recognizing feminine and masculine qualities and role in life. Female and male unite to bring forth life and nurture and protect it. 

Read a short excerpt from Prelude, book one of The Ancestors' Secrets trilogy:

Wondrous-headed doe with horns
of a thousand branches and knobs.
Thousand branches and knobs
and of a thousand bright candles.
Among its horns, it carries
the light of the blessed sun.
On its forehead, there is a star,
on its chest the moon.
And it starts along the banks
of the shining heavenly Danube,
That it may be the messenger
of heaven and bringer of news,
About our creator and caring God.

I always loved this legend. It was difficult to see the meaning of the legend behind all the symbolism, but when Dad had explained it once, it made some sense to me. He said, “The cosmos, the mother of the sun, is represented by a female horned doe, or hind. Being a symbol of the cosmos, she also carried the stars representing the people united. Just as the cosmos was her mother, she was the mother of the stag who symbolized the sun.”
“Rua, you’ve been telling us stories, but I never heard you mention anything about the four hundreds,” inquired Ema.
“There are many speculations, but nothing is known for certain. The legend says those were dark and uncertain times and that we might never find out what happened back then,”
Ema frowned, “Oh, you and your legends. Never a straight answer to anything.”
“I just tell the legends as my father before me.”
Ema sighed, annoyed, and started playing with the CD player. To match her mood, she chose Brahms and drummed the tune on her knees. Bela begged her to switch to Chopin, and when she did, everyone settled into a lazy mode. We listened to the music and enjoyed the beautiful late afternoon.
“Tell us more stories Rua,” begged Ema, turning to him.
“Okay, I’ll tell you a story about King Matyas,” Rua said as he sipped his coffee.
We all leaned back, ready for the tale. I always loved his stories about the wise and just king, but Ema cut him off before he could start the story, “But Rua, you told us all the stories about King Matyas already. Tell us why the falcon is so important in our history.”
“Well, according to the legend, the Turul is a messenger of the Gods. It sits on top of the Tree of Life or ‘Életfa’ along with the spirits of unborn children in the form of birds. When we are in need, the Turul stretches its wings over us, guides and protects us.”
Ema’s eyes turned sad and looked away, “It doesn’t protect everyone.”
“That’s true. It doesn’t protect individual people from life’s everyday cruelty. It protects us as a nation, all of us. Also, the Turul bird’s role is to protect the sword that appoints the King or Queen, who are proven to be worthy.”
“How can a mythical bird do that?”
“I don’t know, but the legend says that when the time is right, and the person is chosen, they hear the falcon’s victory cry and the flaming sword mark appear on their neck with the symbol of the King or Queen on their face.”
Ema sighed and shrugged her shoulders, “Oh, Rua, these are just legends.”
 “Well, there is a small truth, somewhere, in every tale that’s told. Maybe it’s just a legend. There was not a Hunor who had the mark since the fourteen hundreds, so we can’t say if it’s true or just a myth.”
 “Having a King or Queen is nothing but a show and symbolic representation nowadays. They don’t have the power to rule a nation like the ancestors.” Ema replied.
“That’s true…” Rua looked at Elza who touched his hand to warn him, and he didn’t finish the sentence.
Noticing the interaction, I said, “Elza please let him finish.”
Rua smiled, “There is nothing more to say. These are just legends.”

Book one is free on:

If interested, you can read my blog series about mythology and folklore:

And, if you're interested in Arthurian legends, Click on Mary Anne Yarde's page HERE