Mae Clair’s Mythical Monday: The Unicorn

Before venturing into the land of myth, I’m happy to announce that Ronda Tutt is the winner of my giveaway during the New Year’s Eve Blog Hop and will receive a $15 gift card to Amazon or Barnes & Noble, plus a copy of my paranormal/time travel romance, WEATHERING ROCK.  Congratulations, Ronda!

The Grand Prize winners should be posted later today on Carrie Ann Ryan’s Blog Hop Page here. As always, Carrie Ann did a great job organizing for all of us. I hope everyone had fun. I love a good hop and making new friends!

If you happen to be a new subscriber to my blog (thanks to everyone who signed up, liked my page on Facebook and gave WEATHERING ROCK a ‘like’ on Amazon…those made me a happy camper :D), every Monday I share information about a creature or subject from myth. Today, I’m visiting one of my all-time favorites, the unicorn.

Poets, minstrels, writers and artists have all immortalized these majestic beasts. I’ve loved them since I was a little girl, enchanted by their gracefulness, noble spirit, and ties to heraldry. So what is it about the unicorn that causes so many to fall in love with them? Perhaps, their unique combination of purity and power.

Although gentle by nature, unicorns were not to be trifled with and would react fiercely when a situation demanded.  In medieval times they were aggressively hunted due to the magical properties of their horn. This included the ability to purify water or bring healing with a single touch. Given the value of a unicorn horn which was often crushed and ground into medicines, it’s no wonder they shied from humans. With one exception:

ENCHANTEDUnicorns were intrinsically drawn to the purity of virgins. According to legend, if a virgin girl sat beneath a tree, a unicorn would lie down beside her and place its head in her lap, attracted by her virtue. But it isn’t only innocence and chastity that are linked to the unicorn. Throughout time, it has been associated with the season of spring, the pure white light of the moon, honesty, and even religion.

Look for the unicorn in the Bible and you’ll find several mentions, especially in older translations. In some versions when God gives Adam the task of naming all that he sees, the unicorn is the first animal he names, forever setting it above all others.  It appears several times throughout the Old Testament making many think that the unicorn, like other animals, simply passed into extinction. Still others believe it took to the water and evolved into the narwhal, a single-horned artic-water whale known as ‘the unicorn of the sea.’

According to the lyrics of The Unicorn Song by the Irish Rovers, the unicorn perished through its own folly. When Noah led the animals onto his ark, two by two, the unicorns were too busy frolicking in the rain to follow. Left behind because of their foolishness, the floodwaters swept them away.

Whatever became of this noble animal, its legend continues today. Perhaps the most poetic representation of all, the constellation Monoceros which shares the night sky with Orion the Hunter, is more commonly called ‘the unicorn.’ How befitting that this beautiful mythical creature has been given a place among the stars.

Do you have any specific memories of unicorns in books, movies, songs or art? Please share!

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15 thoughts on “Mae Clair’s Mythical Monday: The Unicorn

  1. Gee – I’d just sent you a message wondering why I hadn’t seen you around and here you are with the mythical and always magical to me, unicorn. My all-time favorite memories of the unicorn have to do if my father traveled somewhere and the rest of the family didn’t go. (He rarely did – he was a rancher after all) – but he always brought me home a unicorn. For a rancher in the 1950-1960 it would have probably been easier to locate a kitten or puppy trinket – but dad always managed to find me a unicorn. I have all of them in a glass case in my office today. Many are porcelain, others blown glass of lampwork, and others very plain. I love them all because my dad found them for me.

    • I love that story, Sheri! How wonderful that he’d bring you home a unicorn. All those pieces must be very special to you. It sounds like you have a wonderful variety.

      My collection has dwindled a good deal, down to one or two ceramic pieces, a brass unicorn from Japan (my cousin got me when he was in the Marines) and two crystal pieces. I had a lot more but made the mistake of keeping them on end tables and bookcases. Not a good idea when you have wandering felines in your house. Most of the horns got broken off and a few met with worse ends.

      I do love my unicorns though! And I’m back to regular posting after the New Year’s Eve Blog Hop! 🙂

  2. I’ve always loved unicorns. I guess I’m drawn to their elegance and strength. I haven’t heard of the “unicorn of the sea” before, although this is the 2nd time in two days I’ve seen the term “monoceros”. Since I’m always running behind, I sympathize with the unicorns that didn’t make it onto the ark in time. LOL Thanks for the great, informative post — as always.

    • Thanks, Donna! 🙂 It’s so strange….I ran across the term ‘monoceros’ in another blog post (I can’t remember where) not long after gathering the information for my Unicorn post. Maybe we saw the same one, LOL. I hadn’t been familiar with the constellation prior to writing this post!

      Narwhal’s always remind me of a prehistoric creature. Probably because of that long spike coming out of their head. Too bad they didn’t give those poor unicorns a lift when the ark took off!

      Thanks for dropping by 🙂

  3. I too love unicorns. I think there are very few girls who don’t. The book that really sealed my affection for them was THE LAST UNICORN by Peter S. Beagle. It’s my absolutely favorite book, and it would have to be something magnificent to knock it off first place on my tops list.

    It’s about a unicorn who hears that she is the last and goes on a quest to find her lost brethren. Along the way, she joins up with a wizard whose magic always goes awry and a woman who lost the grandeur of youth and innocence long ago but in her heart holds it still. It’s a love story and a tragedy and oh so wonderfully good. Plus, Beagle’s writing is exquisitely lovely.

    Thanks for the post, Mae. You reminded me why I love unicorns so much. Have you ever heard of black or red unicorns? They have their own variants on the legend; though, I confess, I’m not as familiar with them.

    • I think I remember THE LAST UNICORN, Laura. It sounds so familiar. I don’t know if I read the book or perhaps saw an animated movie. For some reason I picture it more as something I saw than something I read.

      I’ve never heard of red unicorns but I have of black unicorns, although I know little about them. I even had a black unicorn statue once (alas, broken by my cats). There is an old fantasy novel called THE BLACK BEAST by Nancy Springer that featured a black unicorn.

      And you are so right that there are probably few girls who didn’t fall in love with unicorns. They’re just so magical! 🙂

  4. Whenever I think about unicorns these days (which isn’t very often), I end up hearing Hyde from That 70s Show mocking Jackie. “I know you like unicorns, so bye bye”. 🙂

    • Oooh, I’m going to have to look that one up. Sounds intriguing. And I like uber sexy 😉

      When I think of books and unicorns I’m always reminded of the pasage from T.H.White’s THE ONCE AND FUTURE KING when Gawain and his brothers (as kids) go on a unicorn hunt, hoping to capture one for their mother, Morgause. I read it in junior high and it’s still in my head. Not for the faint of heart!

  5. Oh my gosh! I swear, I never knew the myths behind unicorns, and never even thought to wonder! I always loved them because they were just so magical looking. Thanks for finally giving me the history on them 🙂

    • That’s the thing about unicorns, L.J. Even without knowing anything about them, they’re completely enchanting. From the moment I saw one I was bewitched, and I didn’t know the first thing about them. Sounds like that was the case for a lot of people. I’m glad I was able to share some info that made you appreciate them more! 🙂

  6. Excellent post. I’ve always had a soft spot for unicorns. My favorite childhood books were the Serenity Books, many of which featured a unicorn named Morgan. Great stories and amazing artwork. I’m also fond of Beagle’s The Last Unicorn.

    • Hi, Jess. Thanks for dropping by and commenting. There seem to be a lot of us with soft spots for unicorns 🙂 The Serenity Books sound wonderful, perfect reading for childhood, especially with the combination of story and artwork. I’m glad you enjoyed the post!

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