“…precious light is protected, harbored in the souls of Unicorns, the most mystical of all creatures.”
— Legend, the Movie
“She thought – and she wasn’t far wrong – that [the unicorn] was the shiningest, delicatest, most graceful animal she had ever met; and he was so gentle and soft of speech that, if you hadn’t known, you would hardly have believed how fierce and terrible he could be in battle.”
— The Chronicles of Narnia: The Last Battle, C.S. Lewis
Unicorns. Unicorns keep cropping up wherever I go! As I started writing this post, I got to thinking that there must be a word to describe the phenomenon when suddenly a certain topic shows up repeatedly in your life in a short period of time.
To Google! – who can read minds, apparently…
Ok, Google. That was a bit freaky …but helpful! Thanks!
Baader-Meinhof: the phenomenon where one happens upon some obscure piece of information – often an unfamiliar word or name – and soon afterwards encounters the same subject again, often repeatedly.
It’s really kind of a stupid name, don’t you think? Until the world comes up with something better and easier to remember, I think I’ll call it The Unicorn Phenomenon.
While I ride this Unicorn Phenomenon wave of mine, I thought I might share some of the unicorn tidbits I have come to know about:
“The blood of a unicorn will keep you alive, even if you are an inch from death, but at a terrible price. You have slain something so pure and defenceless to save yourself, you will have but a half-life, a cursed life, from the moment the blood touches your lips.”
— Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, J.K. Rowling
- Unicorns are not found anywhere in classic mythology. WHAT??! No really.
Written descriptions of unicorns appear in texts from the ancient Persians, the Romans, the Greeks and ancient Jewish scholars, all describing a horse-like creature whose single horn had magical properties and could heal disease. These depictions paint them as specimens of foreign zoology rather than fictional companions of gods and heroes. In other words, people believed they were real.
- The horn of a unicorn was believed to be an antidote or vaccine for poison. Beginning around 1100 AD, a commodity known as alicorn became a prized possession for European Royalty. Filed dust of a unicorn horn was said to prevent one from suffering the effects of poison, and Royals were willing to pay a pretty penny to avoid the threat. Other tales recount witnesses of unicorns dipping their horns in rivers or pools to purify the water making it safe for animals and people to drink.
- Unicorns have a soft spot for virgins. Many medieval Europeans believed that unicorns could only be tamed by the presence of a chaste woman – so if you wanted to catch one, you needed a young maiden to use as bait.
- Animals that may have been mistaken for Unicorns: Based the descriptions of Unicorns by ancient travelers, the Rhinoceros, Oryx, Narwal and Chiru may be some likely candidates for what they actually encountered.
- Unicorn fossils were “uncovered” to convince skeptics of their existence. Most famously, the two-legged unicorn constructed from the fossil remains of a woolly rhinoceros, mammoth and narwhal by scientist and mayor of Magdeburg, Germany, Otto Von Guericke in 1663.
- Ancient names often translated as unicorn: re’em (Biblical Unicorn), qilin (Chinese Unicorn), three-legged-ass (Persian Unicorn)
- The Unicorn is the National Animal of Scotland: Yep. Scots embrace the unicorn as a symbol of fierce devotion to one’s country. The lion (representing England) and the unicorn remain the bearers of the royal arms of Great Britain.
The lion and the unicorn were fighting for the crown.
The lion beat the unicorn all around the town.
Some gave them white bread and some gave them brown;
Some gave them plum cake and drummed them out of town.
“‘Do you know, I always thought unicorns were fabulous monsters, too?
I never saw one alive before!’
‘Well, now that we have seen each other,’ said the unicorn, ‘if you’ll believe in me, I’ll believe in you.'”
— Through the Looking Glass, Lewis Carroll