The Unicorn’s Surprise
I was sifting through a tub of junk jewelry today when I found a pewter unicorn pendant. I’m not sure of the metal but my guess is stainless steel. It’s lovely and not at all tacky. I assume it must be lucky to find such an item but despite believing in magic, I’m really not superstitious. It is however meaningful. I mean, how often do you just find a very nice unicorn pendant in a tub of junk? It speaks to the whole mythology of the unicorn which is fascinating to me.
Unicorns are the ever-present totem of the little girl. Whitelighters have claimed it as one of their own, conferring an aura of unparalleled purity and innocence. The killing of such beast would surely leave an indelible mark on your karmic record. But unicorns have another side. In ancient accounts, the creatures were more likely goats than horses. They were touted for their strength and virility. The unicorn is a sigil not just of sacred chastity but male prowess.
I mean, it does sport a big horn on its head. In the Bible, it is praised for its strength and ability to help shepherd the chosen people out of Egypt. In an interesting note, Biblical scribes were also fascinated with the unicorns’ bollocks.
For me, I like when symbols of purity show their frisky sides. The dual nature of the unicorn reminds me of Shiva. Not his creator/destroyer…that’s another story. It reminds me of the Shiva that is the divine meditator and the Shiva that represents male virility. While Shiva certainly carries the trappings of monasticism–his great braids, the mala beads that hang from his wrist, his eyes that stay in the half closed position of meditation, and his ubiquitous lotus position, he is also the god of the tantra–one half of the erotic embrace with Shakti. He is a god who had intimate relations with his beloved bull Nandi, whose image is often seen with Shiva’s simple phallic linga.
As a pagan, I feel lucky that my archetypes, gods, goddesses and other beasties are so thoroughly complex. When you have a god and a mythical animal that are symbolic of both sacredness, particularly innocence and sexuality, it presents an opportunity to look at these things not as dichotomous and morally loaded opposites but parts of a whole. In experiences with these beings, we can ask, how do sexuality and a divine nature inform each other? And isn’t it just brilliant that something can be holy, innocent and worthy of protection (or worship) without being beholden to some unhealthy obsession with virginity.
I think so.