Animals have always appeared to me at turning points in my life, particularly deer. More than 20 years ago, my first story was published about an injured doe that had crossed my path. I was on my way driving to a creative writing class. The anguish I felt that day when the deer had to be shot by law enforcement was poured into my first class project. The support I received in class prompted me to submit my story to the city newspaper and I became elated when I received the call that it was to be published. For the first time I saw myself as the writer I had always been. I had many more experiences with deer over the years, some inspired me to write and others just remain etched in my heart.
Last week another deer appeared to me and I knew something was about to change in my life. I was driving to the post office shortly before 9 am passing by St. Mary's on the Hill in the town where I live. It was a cloudy day. Despite living in Lancaster for over 7 years, I had only recently found out about this church and visited its surrounding landscape. There was something sacred about this landscape which I felt from the moment I saw it. Records indicate it had once been all forested land. The feeling was something ancient and primordial which went well beyond what man had created in the last few hundred years. The hilly landscape was also unusual for an otherwise flat town.
As I drove alongside the perimeters of the church that morning, a young stag appeared with his beautiful crown of horns. I stopped my car. He looked directly at me sensing whether or not he was safe, and then made his way across the road searching for a more safe haven. In that moment as his eyes met mine, I felt this deep sense of heartfelt connection and I knew something was about to happen in my life. On my return drive, I had to once again pass the boundaries of St. Mary's and the hillside landscape. The sky was dark that morning, but suddenly the sun appeared in all its glory through an opening where the clouds had briefly parted. The glow of the sun cast its light directly upon St. Mary's church and in that moment I felt an immense feeling of grace that I cannot really put into words. Then the sun disappeared, as I continued on my way.
I knew that magic had just happened. It was enough to have me inspired the rest of the day as I thought about what it all meant. I knew that something was about to occur in my life-- something life altering. It was just a matter of time. The animal signposts had been there throughout my life. Later I came to find out that the Assumption of Mary, after which this church is named, is the time when Mary ascended to the heavens from her earthly realm and it is celebrated on August 15th, the same day as my birth. It was another synchronicity, but what did it all mean?
Three days later I received news that stunned me, eliminating something from my life that I had only recently begun to rely upon. It was clear I was not meant to follow in this direction. It was a betrayal among people I didn't really know, an end of a path that was not meant to be. There had been no explanation, no reasoning offered, though I felt certain that maintaining my boundaries and speaking my truth had contributed to the end. There had been constant insights in conversations, symbols from my helping spirits that were meaningful to me, but I had not heeded the warnings. I chose to see the best in others and not necessarily the reality of a very dysfunctional system that was doomed to implode upon itself. I had offered my services for a short while. My work was done.
The stag has long been a symbol of Christ with its antlers reaching up and bringing light down from the heavens. It is also known to be an enemy of snakes, stamping out darkness. I cannot think of a more appropriate symbol to receive three days prior to the truth being revealed to me. Each year the stag sheds its horns symbolizing a cycle complete and a shedding of the past. Sometimes people don't like when your light shines too bright and you speak the truth because it causes them to look at their own lies and inadequacies. In time I know that the next part of my journey will be revealed to me. I have faith in the Stag's appearance. My Spirit has once again been renewed.
Clarissa Harison is an advocate for the natural world and has been writing since the 90s about her experiences with nature on behalf of those who have no voice. Her travels and observations healing her own land, as well as her diverse background in international studies, energy of space, the corporate world and consulting/teaching work have led her to develop an intimate understanding of the perfection existing in nature and our own individual journey of finding our way back to ourselves and ultimately restoring the well being of our planet.
Copyright 2017 Clarissa Harison/Awen Environments.
All photos: Source unknown.