Where The White Deer Leads…

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How strange it is that we’ve been raised to watch out for the dark. To cross our fingers when the black cat crosses our path, to count crows for to see where the future lies or to throw a pinch of salt where Black Shuck, the phantom dog, has passed before. And yet in our own homegrown mythologies it’s also the touch of the white that can lead you astray. A cursory glance through our island’s folklore will unearth the white skinned, red eared Gabriel Hounds of Windsor Park and  the spectral huntsmen in perpetual pursuit of the White Doe of Eagle’s Crag every Halloween in the vale of Todmorden. Or the family of Levens Hall in Westmoreland, whose fate is inextricably tied to the life and death of any white doe born on the estate, and the legend of Pwyll, from the glorious and medieval Mabinogion, led into Annwn by the white hart to learn his lesson and emerge wiser for it.

So consider what white might mean to you: the scoured bone, the ashes that remain, the spilled milk, the moon through trees, the white hot centre of the sun. White Crow, White Deer, White Goddess.

I don’t think it’s any coincidence that the welsh word for ‘white’- wen is the same as the suffix used to indicate a divine being, a piece of the Otherworld, as in Ceridwen, Goddess of the cauldron of inspiration, or Branwen, Goddess of Love and Freedom. Names and characters and creatures that belong both Here and There, in that liminal place between the worlds where anything is possible…

…And that is where the White Deer of legend waits to come crashing through the forests of our collective unconcious. Rare but not impossible, portentous and mythological, but caught on camera each passing season, and ready for the moment you step from the safety of the well trodden path.

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