Into the Woods, 19: Following the Deer (Part II)
Into the Woods, 21: Following the Deer (Part IV)

Into the Woods, 20: Following the Deer (Part III)

Young Fallow Deer by Joshua Smythe

In the earliest time,
when both people and animals lived on the earth,
a person could become an animal if he wanted to
and an animal could become a human being.
Sometimes they were people
and sometimes animals
and there was no difference.
All spoke the same language.
That was the time when words were like magic.
The human mind had mysterious powers.
A word spoken by chance
might have strange consequences.
It would suddenly come alive
and what people wanted to happen could happen -
all you had to do was to say it.
Nobody can explain this:
That's the way it was.

- after Nalugiaq (from Magic Words: Songs and Stories of the Netsilik Eskimos by Edward Field)

Peruvian deer vesselsCeremonial deer vessels from Chimbote, Santa Valley, Peru (100 BC-500 AD)

Iranian deer vessel  used for holding wine 1000-550 BCIranian deer vessel, used for holding wine (1000-550 BC)

Ative American olla from Acoma Pueblo New Mexico.Native American olla from Acoma Pueblo, New Mexico. The exact date is unknown, but it's believed to be old, and the traditional "heartline deer" design even older.

Rutting deer buck

Hondoran deer vesselA ceramic deer vessel from the Hunal Tomb, Copan, Honduras (circa 437 AD)

Enchanted is what they were
in the old stories, or if not that,
they were guides and rescuers of the lost,
the lonely, needy young men and women
in the forest we call the world.
That was back in a time
when we all had a common language.

- Lisel Mueller (from "Animals Are Entering Our Lives")

Doe and Deer Jars by glass artist William MorrisDoe and Deer Jars, made of blown glass, by American glass artist William Morris, based in the Pacific Northwest.

Deer in Trees Bowl by C BaconDeer in Trees bowl by American ceramicist C. Bacon, based in New England.

White-tail deer

Deer and Doe Porcelain Boxes by Eleanor BartlemanDeer and Doe porcelain boxes by English ceramicist Eleanor Bartleman, based in Devon.

Long ago the trees thought they were people.
Long ago the mountains thought they were people.
Long ago the animals thought they were people.
Someday they will say, long ago the humans thought they were people.

-  from a Native American (Tulalip) story recounted by Johnny Moses

Go here for Following the Deer: Part IV

White-tail deer

The deer photographs above are: young fallow deer (by UK photographer Josh Smythe);  a deer buck at Dunham Massey Deer Park, in north-west England, during the rutting season (rubbing antlers in grass is a common rutting behaviour); an early morning doe and deer encounter; and two white-tailed deer-people.


I'm lucky enough to live near Bradgate Park, the old hunting estate of the Grey family, (as in Lady Jane Grey, Queen for eleven days before being executed in that way the Tudors had of ridding themselves of the excess aristocratic population). No hunting is allowed there now, and the herds of Red and Fallow deer are so used to people it's possible to get quite close to them before they finally shy away. Of course this can cause problems during the rutting season when the magnificently antlered Red Stags have been known to gore the occasional individual who gets too close. This causes a bit of a sensation in the local press; after all we're in middle England, we're not used to the wildlife turning on us.
Incidentally, Lady Jane Grey's headless ghost is supposed to appear before the gates of the ruined Tudor hunting lodge on certain nights of the year (Christmas Eve I think). Haven't seen her myself, but perhaps one day I'll go armed with torch and camera in the hope of the definitive photo.

Bradgate Park sounds marvelous. We have a deer park near here too, up by Castle Drogo, but the deer are more elusive there, their numbers smaller I suppose. I've seen them there singularly or in small groups, but never a whole herd, alas....

I've been to Castle Drogo but saw no herds unfortunately. I think the people of Leicester are luckier than they realise with the easy access they have to the Bradgate deer. There are even 'White Harts', albinos of course, but protected from predators, their numbers are growing. Perhaps the Fairy Hunt will come this way!

Don't have any Deer stories of my own, but gee, I'm enjoying Your Deer series. Beautiful images, beautiful words. Always beautiful your blog posts. Thankyou Terri, ox

A sigh is universal language where a smile can be a threat as much as it might be an invitation to friendship. This is so for all animal life still. Body language is different culture to culture to converse in this manner, the human animal might observe the culture of the anmimal in question and then mimic it to feel the meaning. The elaborate haqnd gestures of various cultures change meaning over borders. So too with deer culture, I think. To be with them one has to be like them. I've seen the albino deer in upstate New york while visiting there. The friend who showed me them said they were the ghost prodigy of the original deer, and represent the border between worlds of being and non being. The Albino deer are said to be messengers from the other worlds.

Another evocative section dear Terri...I am most fond of that Lisle Mueller poem acknowledging the origin of language...and the glass artist-William Morris. I love the range of the images you choose too. I can hardly wait for the whole series to manifest as a beautiful hardcover volume.

addendum--apology for the typos. My eyes and fingers are sometimes unreliable/

Dearest Michelle and everyone else who has been asking for a book: Please enjoy this series in blog form, which is the sort of thing that a nonprofit blog like this does best, for it's unlikely to appear in a printed form.

Although it would indeed make a beautiful book, once you start talking about a print publication (which would have to be for-profit, to make it viable), the financial and administrative logistics of tracking down all of the rights-holders for all these quotes and pictures, negotiating for those rights (often with publishers' permissions departments, not the authors themselves), designing and printing a full-color book, administering royalty distribution to the rights-holders, etc., this would become a time-consuming and expensive project. In this day and age of Austerity Publishing, the chance of finding a publisher who would take all that on is slim-to-none.

I am, however, working on a book of my collected essays (slowly, because it's in the middle of other publishing commitments & earning-a-living work), which will be easier to publish, since quoted material will be minimal. I'd love to be able to include full-color art, especially as a great deal of fairy tale art is old enough to be in Public Domain, but that will be up to the publisher once I've sold the book, full color being expensive.

This is why I love blogging. I can create quilts stitched of words and text in the way that I've *always* wanted to, but which publishing logistics make so difficult.

P.S.: But I am touched that so many folks would like a book!

I was thinking this VERY thing, Terri, when I awoke this morning... I realized that a book like this series would be quite an endeavor of getting permissions, etc. I am grateful, though, that we can enjoy it here, what a gift! And I'm looking forward to your book of essays when that happens.

I hadn't seen those William Morris pieces. I love his work, its just extraordinary.

I used to live on the eastern shore of Maryland. We had many deer there. Sometimes, they would swim across the small inlet of the Chesapeake Bay that I lived upon and climb up on to our yard and then go off on their deer business.

Ours was also the home of the male great blue heron. The female and her nest lived at a neighbor's.

During certain times of year, you had to be careful driving down the road because, we would say, the deer were running.

And some times it was the time that the turtles crossed the road and you would have to stop and move them the rest of the way across so you could drive on to work or grocery shopping. (If you moved them back from whence they came, they would simply try and cross the street again.)

This is a lovely post, Terri, thank you.

Dear Terri,

I know exactly how you feel about taking words from the blog onto printed pages with legal logistics and criss-crossing borders ... "This is why I love blogging." YES!

I so love that you have included Johnny Moses' story about deer. He is of this land where I have been transplanted: The Salish Sea and The People. He IS a master storyteller, and the current teller given so much encouragement by his Elders especially beautiful Vi Hilbert. Thank you for including these story, and link to his website. He has taken a very great robe to wear upon his shoulders; and all the people have a voice where he goes.

Been traveling so am behind. Here is a poem numping off from Lisel's poem. )I have loved her work for a long time.) Poem didn't go where I expected.

What We Have in Common

“That was back in a time
when we all had a common language.
- Lisel Mueller (from "Animals Are Entering Our Lives")

Was it language we had in common then,
or just the shrugs, houghs, snorts, scratches
that stood for language in that time before time.
In that time before we could write about it,
or tell stories, or sing songs, did we think a word
and did it become the thing we thought.
Deer, and a deer would appear dappled and dancing?
Or light and the sun rose above the trees,
giving us shadows at the same time,
and we thought shadows.

Was it laughter we had in common, even before
we knew how to tell jokes, or was it sorrow
when a mother died, a father, a child?
Perhaps tears are what binds us closest.
Tragedy ends us all, but we laugh at different things,
not all of them funny. Few of them actually.
I laugh at puns. Before we had words,
would I have laughed at all?

Was it body we had in common, the two
who become one, the you who becomes us?
How my hand explored your foreskin, your hand
set fire to my breast, our tongues touched.
That was a language spoken without words.
It made us laugh, cry out, weep later.
Years later.

©2013 Jane Yolen all rights reserved

That little piece of story from Johnny Moses is one of my favorite things in the whole wide world. I always write it on my studio walls, as it's such a touchstone for me.

I love this SO much.

what people wanted to happen could happen -
all you had to do was to say it.
Nobody can explain this:
That's the way it was.

- after Nalugiaq

It is still
the way it is:
I am a deer in the morning,
step out of sleep
hugging shadows.

And oh, the words gone awry
gone astray
the "but you said"s
the "you promised"s
the "I thought you meant"s:

magic spells
I didn't mean
that worked anyway.

So I am a deer in the morning
(the better to run away, my dear).
A noontime hawk,
the moon's own salmon.
I am always, always a tree.

I do understand how heavy a load it would be to try to capture all these shifting,
lovely illustrations and photos in a book. When we are peeved, sad, feeling bad or sickish
we can go back through the archives and adjust again, in the endless gift of Terri's eye
and soul. Tonic and spiritually healing. It has taken a lifetime to accept I cannot have
everything I wanted, but I can have things I never dreamed of, instead.

What a powerful poem! Here Is a Tribute To Jane Yolen:

Before we could speak,
We could cough, snort and squeak.
All rather oblique.

Perhaps we could whistle, sigh
And most loudly, cry.
Maybe mmm came, Ma Mama Mom, I!

Some now use words to lie,
And some groan and deny.
But poets hush them, asking why?

Some poets were born and raised,
Far from being cut up and appraised,
But to spiral so truly, we're amazed.

The muse in forest and delicate hart
Slipping through forests, and in part
Silent; Listen, listen. A poet's report.

Made me laugh!


Oh, this is wonderful too!!!

Thank you for your generosity, everyone, for leaving magical memories and enchanting poems here....


I totally understand this reasoning---and it would, it REALLY would make a stunning volume. But, it is a wonderful series just as it stands. Still, well...if something is meant to be it will manifest.

I'm so grateful. thanks.

Also a thank you. So few places to plant a little whimsy.

Love the last line.....that's going on my studio wall!

Thank you K. W. Walker. I am honored.

So glad I came back to this particular blog. Magical,wonderful poem.

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