Mar. 22nd, 2012

houseofchimeras: (Spiridon - Self)
Date First Written: March 2012; Date Last Updated: March 2013

The ideas around unicorns has gained a number of common images and themes which have become entwined around the term unicorn as much as my horn curls around itself. Over time and across space different ideas and themes have been placed upon the unicorn. Sometimes in areas they have had different names, different appearances, different certain behaviors, and so on. Not all portrayals of unicorns in mythology and fiction are the same. Its curious to delve into how these things might effect or relate to how I am as a shadhavar unicorn. Exploring how I am a shadhavar and how fiction and mythology compares or contrasts. Exploring my being a unicorn as myth, archetype, and symbolism. The portrayal of unicorns over the years has certainly gained some common themes and symbolisms at times. So to explore those in relation to myself.

Over the decades due to the strong influence of Christianity in art, during the medieval and renaissance especially, the image of the unicorn has grown to be symbolic of the purity and all good of Jesus or even Christian God. This use of symbolism appeared in both writing and art. An example of something someone wrote, Saint Basil once wrote, "Christ is the power of God, therefore He is called the Unicorn on the ground that He has one horn, that is, one common power with the with the Father." I know this has influenced some parts of the unicorn community as well. After all, the first book written by a unicorn for other unicorns was Are You A Unicorn?: Mission and Meaning of Unicorns by Roy Wilkinson (I have never read myself as it is out of print sadly) which is notable as a book for people who identify as unicorns and “what unicorns are about” comes at its topic from a Christian standpoint. For myself, I can not identify with this at all, due to not being Christian nor having any background in growing up around Christianity. I don’t have much else I could add beyond that really.

The unicorns in Persian mythology are called shadhavar. It is these kinds of unicorns which specifically seem to match the best of any other unicorn depictions as far as mythology goes. Because of these strong similarities I use the term shadhavar to help specify how I am. I apply this term to myself rather than I try to make myself fit this term. There are many things which really stick out with this kind of unicorn compared to various other kinds of unicorns across the world. The most notable similarity is that shadhavar can play a musical tune similar to a flute through their horn (or in some tellings the wind blows through their horn to produce the sound). That is something I have always felt that as one my strongest unicorn feelings/instincts. Similar to how wolf therians feel the desire to howl I felt I should play a tune through my horn. Of course, this behavior for shadhavar in mythology was said to have the purpose of luring in prey which would then be killed for food. That I do not feel as much. Though I do consider my unicorn-self able to eat meat rather then just plant material, I don’t see my kind as actually being complete meat-eaters only nor see the use of this song to be used just for or only luring prey. Rather, this song has many uses. To enjoy the song, to communicate in a whole verity of meanings through pitches, and such as well as luring living creatures in either to calm or to lure in. The body shape of the shadhavar in mythology is described as similar to an antelope. This as well I find similarity with especially consider of any ungulate I have seen I consider my body shape to be most similar to the lesser kudu which is a species of antelope. Among this antelope line, my hooves are actually two ‘toed’ plus my coloring is of a tan and bronze color roughly not to dissimilar to some antelope species. A more detailed feature in mythology is that shadhavar are said to have dark markings on their face. On my side of things, I have a star on my forehead, a snip on my nose, and two markings on both sides below my eyes. These traits cause me to identify most with this kind of unicorn in mythology, yet there are other traits to non-shadhavar unicorns that I identify with.

Unicorns are legendary for their healing abilities. The horn of a unicorn, called the alicorn, was thought to have magical and healing properties. One reported property is it was thought the horn could neutralize poisons in drinks. The ability for the horn to purify water dates back to the Physiologus, a manuscript of various animals and fanatic beasts originally written in Greek. In the work, it mentions a scene of animals not drinking from a body of water because it was poisoned only for a unicorn to come to drink and with its horn purifies the water. Of course, originally the ability to due this was said because the sign of the cross was made by the horn, going back to the Christian symbolism, which is later on dropped from the tales. As for myself, I can feel this ability in some way is connected to my being a unicorn. I do think that my kind of unicorn would certainly have the ability to purify water and this comes off as a kind of instinctive behavior in its own way. See, when I drink no matter if its from a glass or drinking fountain I have the impulse to pause for a moment before preceding. An instinctive waiting for a moment almost like how some therians have the impulse to sniff their food or drink before continuing as in both cases its not like anything could be really be done or sensed but its done anyway because instinct drives the slight act.

More modern media have expanded on the possible abilities of a unicorn through their horn to include actually being able to heal sickness or even heal wounds directly. I’m not sure of how far into these kind of connects go though they seem to have their basis on early stories going from neutralizing poisons to healing sickness to healing wounds and so on. A few modern books I know of are The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle in which the unicorn was able to bring back a man to live and in The Unicorn  Chronicles by Bruce Coville the unicorns are able to heal wounds with some difficulty the greater the injury. As before with the instinct of wanting to purify water, when it comes to healing I do somewhat feel it being connected to my being a unicorn. Again, its like an instinct toward something that isn’t there and isn’t possible.  I could see that my kind of unicorn might be able to do something along the lines of healing but the idea seems to abstract to really understand. So the feeling is like a faint thought in the back of my head saying ‘if I was a unicorn and whatnot, I could heal in some small ways’ but its not something I think about.

Another trait often applied to unicorns is that they are quiet and peaceful creatures. These ideas seems to be connected with the unicorn being seen as a pure and innocent creature in various stories and myths. Ideas of unicorns being apposed to violence and cruelty. For myself, somewhat stereotypically, I am a rather quiet and youth-filled sort. Plus I do have a strong loathing for senseless violence, cruelty, and death; however, I am not someone who has a complete revolution or condemnation of all forms of death. Personally, on my own grounds, I do try to avoid fights and conflicts, but I am not someone to just run or avoid. When aggravated, I do want to nip people with my teeth, kick out, or drive my horn in to or at people at least in the back of my head if I had the form I felt I should have. I even, have a tendency to drop my head down low when feeling threatened or aggravated. Then again, everyone has their limits, and unicorn as just as much individuals as anyone, and not like the saintly or all gentle always that’s seen in fiction and in pictures. I just have my quirks on how I might react to conflicts, quirks which do not necessarily fit with a human template. Broader things, such as the commonality of violence and crime, war, destruction of nature, and more certainly hits me strongly. Of course, who doesn’t in some view or another yet unicorns as the theme seem to show these treats in a very strong way.

One of the biggest things unicorns are credited with is being a creature of purity and innocence. These ideas of unicorns goes fairly far back into sense Christian symbolism became linked the image of the unicorn at the time. When it comes to themes like ‘purity’ and ‘innocence,’ if I do or don’t feel these ideas might be applicable to me as a shadhavar depends on how the words are used. I can’t really think of any creature living that would be or how it would be ‘pure’ actually. If the use of the word is trying to describe a creature that is free of being removed from its own wild nature or similar, perhaps I could see it that way. However if to mean a creature that is clean and castrate, I can’t really see that being applicable to any creature really. I do not identify with the image of a unicorn as being rather pure and peaceful onto my identity. If its interpreted as being a creature of the wilderness (perhaps that ‘kind of pure’ if you will) but still a creature that would face threats head on. Beyond this or anything more supernatural in meaning, I can’t identify with. I just wouldn’t and can’ think a concept like ’purity’ being connected to my kind of unicorn, a shadhavar.

On the other ‘hoof,’ unicorns have also been labeled as fierce or ferocious. Some of the early writings of unicorns talk of a creature that is fleet and fierce. A number of such early writings talk of the unicorn in a way that wasn’t a supernatural creature but a natural beast. Other descriptions of unicorns in this manner is that of “wildness” and “swift.” This manner of describing a unicorn in this way means something very much to me. I do see myself as a creature that, if physically real, would act like any creature with my own instincts and species quirks. Even the physically impossible traits to how I see myself as a unicorn still have some instinct to them. Even these impossible things seem naturally part of the behavior and have a purpose. If you’ve ever seen the ’what if’ documentary-style television films Dragons: A Fantasy Made Real and Mermaid: A Body Found perhaps that is what I am trying to get at. That if such creatures did exist in reality how they would of ‘worked’ and behaved. That there were behaviors driving everything.

Unicorns are often linked with nature. In some portrayals unicorns are seen as connected to nature in some way. Sometimes as a protector of nature or similar. I can’t remember any older stories but a more modern example of this is in The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle, where it is alluded to in the beginning that the unicorn provided some manner of protection to the forest she lived in and the animals there. Though, I can’t say as I feel as a unicorn having a connection to protection nature so much as just a connection to nature simply. Of course, looking at any tale of unicorns as creatures living in the wilderness is reference enough to this connection to nature really. I am a nature lover of course, which also seems to be a fairly common trait among a number of otherkin in general as well unicorns specifically. I am connected with nature, but I’m realistic and not bright-eyed about how nature is in anyway. I prefer nature to heavy urbanization, but urbanization mindful of nature does not bother really. I do feel at home in nature, but I also enjoy the comforts of human technology in many ways. Nature does has a lot of dangers no matter who or what you are (just as there are some forms of danger of having a human life in some aspects), but there are still is an element of a feeling of ‘home’ away from urbanization.

One thing that has become linked to unicorns is young maidens. This comes form the symbolism of young maidens (almost always meaning virgins)  being images of purity and innocence and seems to date back to Medieval times though the exact origins of the myth are complex and vague at best. In general though, the myth is that unicorns are attracted to young virgin women (or in some modern portrayal any virgin male or female) in some way to the point that they are compelled to come near and then lay their head in their lap if they sit alone quietly. I can honestly say I wouldn’t want to go rushing over to any person, young or not, to lay near them as a unicorn let alone as a human as I am now obviously. In my mind’s eye of how I would be as a unicorn I would be a creature that doesn’t have any interest in humans. Akin it to how almost any real life wild animal would be in the sense of avoidance, wariness, or perhaps even aggression if pressed. So I honestly can’t say as I can identify with this myth in any form or  level at all.

And about those connection between unicorns and rainbows, to be clear - hello? Are you kidding me? Somewhat stereotypical ‘proud’ to be gay guy, here. Yes, I do like rainbows and colors in general. Of course, I am not all about rainbows nor connect this to being a unicorn in a human body. I actually prefer natural shades of color rather than neon shades. I don’t consider my like of a verity of colors grouped together to be in anyway related to my unicorn identity.

So I can’t say I am exactly like some of the more common images of unicorns over the years; however, that is to be excepted considering how widely varies the portrayals of unicorns have been over the many years. I am just me. Some unicorns identity in ways different from others. My own kind of unicorn  just happens to look and act like one kind of unicorn once portrayed  in Persian mythology enough for me to like to use the term for myself. Some themes I identify with more strongly then others.

- Spiridon

July 2014

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