- There are very few mythical creatures considered to be “good” in all different stories, cultures/traditions. But the unicorn is one of them.
- The unicorn itself represents many things in different stories. Most commonly, the unicorn is a symbol of purity and virtue.
- In the Middle Ages, the unicorn became a religious symbol, especially in art. A beautiful woman (who represented the Virgin Mary) captured a unicorn, and when it was tame it laid its head in her lap. Through the years, this story grew. The unicorn began to represent Christ, the death of a unicorn was likened to the Passion of Christ.
- A group of unicorns together is called a “blessing” of unicorns.
- A unicorn’s single horn can be meant to represent many different things. Among them: heraldry, unity, the cycles of time, endlessness, and the sword.
- Unicorns’ horns are said to be magic. They are harder than diamonds, and have the ability to neutralize poisons.
- If you are fortunate enough to see a unicorn, you may be granted a wish.
- The tears of a unicorn have the ability to heal both physical ailments and sorrows of the heart.
- In the early 1600s, the Dutch theologian, Petrus Plancius, included the unicorn constellation, “monoceros,” on his celestial globe.
- Unicorns in real life? Alexander the Great claimed to have rode a unicorn into battle, the famous explorer Marco Polo claimed to have encountered a unicorn (although his description fits that of a rhinoceros rather closely …), Julius Caesar said he saw a unicorn in a forest in Germany, a unicorn “appeared” to Confucius’ mother, foretelling his birth, and later “appeared” to Confucius himself, foretelling his own death.
- Unicorns are said to be able to tell the truth from lies. When confronted with a liar, the unicorn will pierce the liar through the heart with its horn.
- For many years, unicorn horns were sold for their medicinal properties, although most of these turned out to be the horns of goats, cows, or even narwhals.
- Queen Elizabeth I is said to have owned a unicorn horn. And the throne of Denmark was supposed to have been made from unicorn horns.
- Legend says that Noah would not allow unicorns onto the ark, and that is why they are extinct today.
- There are quite a few references to unicorns in the King James version of the Bible, although more modern versions translate “unicorn” into “bull” or “oryx.” (Numbers 23:22, Job 39:9, Psalm 22:21, Isaiah 34:7, among others).
Being a reader and writer of Christian allegory, I can’t help but imagine some of the ways unicorns could be used symbolically in stories. Can you? I may have to keep that in mind for my next book …
What’s your favorite mythical creature? Does it lend itself to a deeper meaning in a story you might like to read or write?