I’m a cautious driver. I’ve spent years driving rural mountainous highways, through thick forests and open ranges, and had long ago developed a keen eye for the road and the foliage alongside it. Deer, cattle, and the occasional bear stumble their way into the path often enough to be paranoid about them.
So when the deer materialized in front of my car, I didn’t realize what had happened immediately. I was sober and alert, in a good mood after an enjoyable evening celebrating Independence Day with my daughter. It was a warm, clear night with good visibility. The road was straight for a quarter mile or so. There was no wildlife ahead of me. The evidence against this is strong, I know.
That deer did not exist in that time and place until I struck it, I swear. I kept this opinion to myself in the immediate aftermath, as it was clearly on shaky ground. Then my daughter confirmed my perception, saying the deer just “appeared out of nowhere”.
Even once I had hit it, I wasn’t quite sure what I hit. The impact didn’t feel severe, and neither of us in the car suffered even the slightest injury. I knew it was big and brown, but the car had launched it into the air and out of sight. I had just started to pull to the side of the highway when it landed square on my windshield with a loud clatter, it’s huge eye staring straight into mine. I couldn’t tell if the scream I heard was coming from the deer or my daughter. It bounced off my windshield and flew up over the car, leaving only a patch of blood to show it had been there. It was a scene straight out of any of a dozen horror movies.
I finished pulling over and sat there, staring into the darkness, reassembling the moments. I picked up the cell phone and called 911.
The dispatcher asked the obvious questions and quickly determined that we didn’t need any immediate help.
“Sir, can you safely move the deer off of the highway? We’ll send someone to pick it up for food for the wolf preserve.”
The deer had landed in the middle of the opposite lane. It’s neck was broken, and I was relieved to know that it probably died instantly. I grabbed its hind legs and pulled it onto the shoulder. Sitting down next to it, I offered it my love, respect, and apology.
When I told Irene about the accident, a strange look crossed her face. “Where was this?”
“By milepost one, right out of town.”
“I bet it was the same one.”
That morning, she told me, she was driving into town and spotted a herd of black-tails standing near there. One of them had caught her eye because it was behaving oddly, carefully watching the passing traffic. She thought it was searching for something.
When I told Daniel about the accident, a strange look crossed his face. “Where?” I told him.
“Damn, I wonder if it was the same one.”
Just hours before I traveled that road, he told me, he had passed by and noticed a black-tail. It stood out in his memory because it was behaving oddly, standing by the side of the highway carefully watching the passing traffic as if it were searching for something. At the time, he fancied it had a message it was trying to deliver.
A messenger, yes. That feels right. I just wish I understood the message.
- According to SpringWolf’s symbology, the deer is my birth totem.
- Deer are a direct reference to the Buddha’s first teaching in the Deer Park, Sarnath, also called Dharmachakra Parivartan. The suggestion is that so wondrous was the Buddha’s appearance and peaceful his presence that even the animals came to listen. In the Tibetan tradition, a monastery which holds the Kangyur and Tengyur collections of texts would have this symbol of deer on both sides of the Dharma-wheel on the roof. (A View on Buddhism)
- According to Ted Andrews’ book, Animal-Speak, deer represent gentleness and innocence, as well as a gentle luring towards new adventure. Deer have acute hearing, and antlers represent psychic antennae, so the appearance of deer can also signify an increased perception (especially hearing), or increased psychic ability. Deer are also very important in Buddhist symbology. Buddha is often pictured accompanied by a tame deer. This image symbolizes innocence and a return to Mother Nature. (White Feather, OmPlace forums)
- Deer symbolize gentleness, grace, swiftness, abundance, intuition, introspection, alternative paths to a goal, messages from guides, love, safety, serenity, sun, fertility and the warrior aspect (stag). They are connected to Artemis, Aphrodite, Athene, Diana, Elaphaia, Dionysus, Apollo, Vayu, Lu-Hsing, Cernunnos, Cocidius and Shou-Hsien. (Wyldcat’s Pagan Place)
- Deer blend very well with their environment but are very sensitive to every sound or movement. Often twins, even triplets, are born in the spring. Does and bucks live in separate groups until the mating season. The white-tailed deer are moderately gregarious, and family members forage food together along with other family groups, giving the appearance of a large herd. People with Deer Medicine are often described as being swift and alert. They are intuitive, often appearing to have well developed, even extrasensory perceptions. Sometimes their thoughts seem to race ahead, and they appear not to be listening. Deer’s medicine includes gentleness in word, thought and touch, ability to listen, grace and appreciation for the beauty of balance, understanding of what’s necessary for survival, power of gratitude and giving, ability to sacrifice for the higher good, connection to the woodland spirits, alternative paths to a goal. The gentleness of Deer is the heart-space of the Great Spirit which embodies His love for us all. Deer teaches us to find the gentleness of spirit that heals all wounds, to stop pushing to get others to change and to love and accept them as they are. The only true balance to power is love and compassion. (CrystaLinks Totem Animals)