“The unicorn, through its intemperance and not knowing how to control itself, for the love it bears to fair maidens forgets its ferocity and wildness; and laying aside all fear it will go up to a seated damsel and go to sleep in her lap, and thus the hunters take it.”
- Leonardo Da Vinci
My love of unicorns was sparked during my second year at university studying Human Geography. In a class about Middle Age map-making I was introduced to a fabulous type of maps called the mappaemundi. These maps came into existence in the transition point of earth-based religions and Christianity. Whereas their purpose was to propagate a Christianised perspective of the world, it did so by capturing the rich culture of the Middle Ages – a time when magic was taken for granted, witches abounded, and the presence ofunicorns was a well-known fact.
For science, mappaemundi represent the “the nadir of the science of map-making” and a scientific step-backwards. For Lightworkers like you and me, they provide an insight into a time when we lived unapologetically out of the spiritual closet, as proud witches who populated the world and shone our light bright.
I remember spending hours studying the various maps, enthralled by the magical symbols and mythical creatures they portrayed. But it wasn’t until I came upon this very peculiar, goat-like creature with a long horn extending from its forehead, on the Herford mappaemundi, that my interest was particularly piqued. This creature was annotated as, a unicorn.
There was something about the unicorn that set it apart from the other creatures on the map. Looking at the unicorn felt like I was looking into a soul-mirror. It was as if the unicorn mirrored my soul, reflecting back to me the qualities of my authentic self and holding the fingerprint of my original essence, which I had to reclaim in order to fully realise and fulfil my purpose.
That was it! I was hooked. I had to find out more.
Did Unicorns Exist?
The question that has captivated humans since antiquity has been whether unicorns have, at some point in time, walked our planet in flesh and bones. Interestingly, the belief in unicorns didn’t surface as part of myth. The first unicorn was recorded by Greek historian Ctesias of Cnidus in 398 BC. According to his description:
“...their bodies are white, their heads dark red, and their eyes dark blue. They have a horn on the forehead which is about a foot and a half in length”.
Drawing from this description, accounts of natural history from all around the world – Europe, Africa, the Middle East, China and Japan – portray the unicorn with variations of these physical characteristics. What remains a constant in these descriptions though, is the unicorn’s inner qualities and temperament.
Throughout the world, the unicorn was depicted as something strong, magical, and holy. A symbol of perfection, an object of desire, something to be passionately admired. Its horn, the alicorn, was considered to have magical abilities. It didn’t just provide a cure to many diseases, but it could also detect and neutralise poisons. It was the perfect antidote to all impurity. In Renaissance Europe, fake alicorns made from the tusks of narwhals were used to create cures by physicians, and alicorn cups were crafted for kings and queens. Queen Elizabeth I of England even kept an alicorn in her cabinet of curiosities, brought back by an explorer on his return from Labrador.
Pondering these facts, the question of unicorn’s physical existence becomes irrelevant. What begs to question instead is: Why does the idea of the unicorn hold importance to so many cultures around the world?
The Qualities of Unicorns
One of the oldest and most popular portrayals of unicorns are the unicorn tapestries. These are a series of seven tapestries dating the early 1500s, which show a group of male hunters trying to capture a unicorn, failing due to the unicorn’s unyielding nature and massive strength, and finally succumbing to the lure of a virgin maiden. Since most unicorn tales follow the same or similar storyline, the unicorn tapestries have been the focus of debate surrounding the meaning and significance of unicorns.
My personal interpretation of this storyline is inherently tied to the mirroring experience I’ve had when I first came upon the mappaemundi unicorn at university. I see myself in the hunters, using predominantly masculine, action-oriented energy to capture a creature that would provide them with all the health, happiness, success, fulfillness and abundance they so long for. As the hunters eventually realise, I do so, too, that an aggressive, go-getter approach alone is inadequate to capturing these qualities.
The hunters realise they’ll need to employ more feminine, nurturing qualities to seize such a noble being, qualities they refuse to develop. Instead, they decide to trick the unicorn by employing a virgin maiden, a woman, who doesn’t feel threatened to using both feminine and masculine qualities to approach it. Consequently, she successfully lures it, revealing the secret formula required to befriend the unicorn: Balancing masculine and feminine energy.
Being a Unicorn
We live in a primarily masculine world. We are taught to go to school, get the grades, make plans, take action, go for it, own it, fake it till you make it. We spend so much of our time drowning in stress, in a society that constantly pushes us to do more and be more. We’re encouraged to take life by the balls, to make our dreams a reality, to work, work, work some more, and even more, towards the promise of titles, papers on walls, and if you’ve been an exceptional masochist throughout your life, posthumous fame.
What about getting less and feeling more?
What about self-care?
What about surrendering the struggle and allowing things to come to us?
What about taking inspired action? What happened to the Divine Feminine?
Why have we trapped it in myths and tapestries?
Why isn’t it a real, palpable aspect of our everyday reality?
Why did we have to go all the way to creating a mythical creature to understand its significance?
Why aren’t we the balanced human unicorns we intended to be?
The unicorn has been part of human consciousness for so long because it is an archetypical representation of our authentic self. The strength, holiness and poise that it exudes are qualities we have denied ourselves, and the love, health, happiness, and abundance that it brings are the results we’ve failed to experience, by holding ourselves prisoners in the masculine world we’ve created. As a result, century after century, we’ve obsessed about capturing the unicorn, whether this was by finding one or owning its horn, not realising that the desire to capturing it was the very reason that prevented us from doing so.
The resurgence of unicorn imagery in popular culture is very much tied to what the unicorn symbolises. From a spiritual perspective, we’re now at a time where the inadequacy of the egotistical, patriarchal structures which have been running the world for so long, are surfacing, and more and more people are awakening to the merits of leading a balanced life. According to research by the GSWS, the Healthy Eating industry has grown by 108% from 2010 to 2014, the Complementary Medicine industry by 65%, while the Wellness industry at large is now 3.4 times bigger than the global pharmaceutical industry.
All these statistics point to the fact that our world is changing for the better. Millions of souls around the world are waking up, actively leading balanced lives, and finally completing the quest that so many before them failed to do so: Not capturing the unicorn, but befriending, and being the unicorn.
George Lizos is a Spiritual Life Coach and the author of Be The Guru: A Step-by-Step Guide to Becoming Your Own Spiritual Teacher. He runs a successful spiritual blog sharing tools to becoming your own spiritual teacher, and features interviews with leading spiritual experts. To learn more about George visit www.georgelizos.com.Your social media handles: www.facebook.com/georgelizos, www.instagram.com/georgelizos,
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