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Occultopedia

Occultopedia

The Occult and Unexplained Encyclopedia  
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Unicorn

              

         


 
 


A legendary animal generally depicted as having the head and body of a horse, the hind legs of a stag, the tail of a lion, and having a long tapering horn growing from the middle of its forehead.


Born of misunderstood travelers' tales, nurtured by the error of biblical translators and adopted by the alchemists, the legend of the unicorn who combines male and female in one beast is rich in the symbolism of opposites.


According to legend, only a virgin holding a mirror was able to tame a unicorn, and with dust filed from its horn a potion against deadly drugs could be produced. They were a pure white, cloven-hoofed, blue-eyed, horse-like beast with a single spiraled horn in its forehead, about a foot and a half in length, its base being pure white, the upper part sharp and red.

   
          

   
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Regarded as a symbol of both purity (its color) and virility (its horn), the unicorn was portrayed in medieval bestiaries (collections of moral tales about animals) as a swift, fierce, solitary animal that could be captured only in a certain way. In 'A Dictionary of Fabulous Beasts' (1971) British writers Richard Barber and Anne Riches describe the method:


"A virgin, preferably both beautiful and naked, (was) bound to a tree; at which the unicorn, attracted by a creature as rare and chaste as itself, would approach, and meekly lay its head in her lap; and this would so entrance it that it could easily be killed by the hunter waiting in ambush."


The first known references to the unicorn are in the Gilgamesh verse epic of ancient Mesopotamia, dating from about 2000 BC, and in the Hindu epic poem the "Mahabharata" (AD 400). But from classical times onward, belief in the existence of the unicorn flowed from two sources. One of these sources was a history of India by the Greek historian and physician Ctesias (400 BC). Ctesias wrote:


"There are in India certain wild asses which are as large as horses.... Their bodies are white, their heads dark red, and their eyes dark blue. They have a horn on the forehead which is about a foot and a half long.... The animal is exceedingly swift and powerful, so that no creature...can ever overtake it."


Zoologists believe this extraordinary, colorful creature to have been a mixture of the Indian rhinoceros, the onager (the Asian wild ass), and a considerable amount of wild imagination. The other source for belief in the unicorn was the Bible.


The Authorized Version has nine references to the animal, among them:


"God brought them out of Egypt; he hath as it were the strength of an unicorn." (Numbers 23: 22)


Yet the biblical references appear to be due to a linguistic error made by Hebrew scholars in the 3rd century B.C. when they translated the Bible into Greek. They rendered the Hebrew re'em (meaning "aurochs," a wild, long-horned ox by then extinct in the Holy Land) as monoceros (meaning "single-horned"), which in translations from the creek became "unicorn." As a result the Scriptures seemed to lend weight to the belief that the animal existed.

   
           

  
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The unicorn myth became transformed into a religious allegory, that of the Holy Hunt, which was depicted in countless medieval paintings, sculptures, and tapestries. In this, it can be said, the maiden represented the Virgin Mary, the unicorn Christ, the animal's horn the unity of Father and Son, and its death the Crucifixion. A beautiful version of this allegory — one in which the maiden is clothed — is depicted in the Unicorn Tapestries, a masterpiece of French Renaissance art, in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.


The unicorn's traditional enemy was the lion, which in medieval fable was said to defeat its foe in the following way. The lion would run to a tree, inviting the unicorn to charge it. As the unicorn drew near, the lion would move aside, and the unicorn, driving its horn into the tree, would become wedged fast. The lion would then fall upon its helpless foe. In the British royal coat-of-arms, however, the two animals represent not conflict but union. They came together in 1603, when James VI of Scotland, upon becoming James I of England, added the Scottish unicorn to the English heraldic lion.

   
           

    
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During the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, what were claimed to be unicorn horns were sold throughout Europe for great prices. They were used to make eating and drinking vessels. It was believed that if these sweated, the food or drink in them was poisoned. Elizabeth I kept such a horn at Windsor, and there was another at the French court (now in the Musee Cluny, Paris). In 1638, however, the Danish zoologist Ole Wurm proved that these "unicorn" horns were in fact the tusks of narwhals, small whales found in Arctic waters.

   
            

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Over the years various travelers reported having seen unicorns. But in 1827 the French zoologist Georges Cuvier claimed that the unicorn was a physical impossibility. If the unicorn was a cloven-hoofed animal, he said, the front of its skull must, like that of all other such animals, also be cloven. But, if this was the case, a horn could not grow from the center of its forehead.

   
            

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In 1934, however, American biologist Dr. F. W. Dove proved Cuvier wrong. Dove took a day-old bull calf, trimmed each of its two horn buds, and transplanted them to the center of the animal's forehead. As the bull grew, it developed a massive single horn. Although the horn allowed it to dominate the rest of the herd, it had a gentle nature. Dove had created a type of unicorn, raising speculation that this fabled creature might once have existed as a freak of nature.  At Marine World in Ukiah, California, several goats have been transformed into 'unicorns" by transplanting two horn buds to the center of the forehead.

   
          

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Sources: (1) Rose, Carol, Giants, Monsters, and Dragons: An Encyclopedia of Folklore, Legend, and Myth, W. W. Norton & Company; (2) Dictionary of the Occult
, Caxton Publishing; (3) Chaucer, Geoffrey, Clerk's Tale, Longman.
 

 
-- Further Learning

Copyright Info --
-- Videos and DVDs Bibliography --
-- Art and Graphics Basic Navigation --
-- Suggested Reading Additional Online Info --

  


       
Suggested Software:
 
Courses on New Age and Alternative Beliefs:
 
 
 

 
-- Dream Interpreter CD-ROM: Spiritual, Psychological and Traditional Interpretations of Dreams.

--
Dragon Riders: Chronicles of Pern CD-ROM.

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Dragon's Lair 3D CD-ROM.

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Dungeons & Dragons Online: StormReach.

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Full-Color Angels CD-ROM.

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Greek Mythology CD-ROM.

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I of the Dragon CD-ROM.

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Monsters of Greek Mythology: A Video Introduction to Greek Mythology.

-- The Alchemist CD-ROM.

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The Myth and Legend of Osiris CD-ROM.

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The Totally New Complete Edgar Cayce Readings CD-Rom.

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The URANTIA Book CD-ROM: The History of Earth.

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Ultimate Divination 4 CD-ROM Set: Astrology, Tarot, Palmistry, I Ching.

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Wild Africa 4 CD-ROM Set.

--
Who's Who in Greek and Roman Mythology DVD.

-- Click HERE for more related software.

-- Click HERE for the best prices on top-selling software titles.
 


Suggested Videos:
 
 

 
-- Creature Collector's Set.

--
Dark Mirror of Magick DVD (Record of an actual magical operation of historical significance).

--
Dragons (documentary).

--
Dragons - Fire & Ice DVD.

--
Dragons - Myths & Legends.

--
Dragons - Myths and Legends DVD.

--
Dragons, Fantasy Made Real - DVD.

--
Dungeons & Dragons DVD.

--
Dungeons & Dragons - The Complete Animated Series DVD.

--
Dungeons and Dragons - Wrath of the Dragon God (Widescreen Edition) DVD.

--
George and the Dragon DVD.

--
Lake Monsters.

--
Monsters of the Deep.

--
Monsters of the Sea.

--
Mysteries & Myths of the Twentieth Century: Loch Ness.

--
National Geographic: Creepy Creatures DVD.

-- National Geographic's Really Wild Animals: Dinosaurs and Other Creature Features.

--
Paleo World: Sea Monsters.

--
Quest for Dragons DVD.

--
Sea Monsters: Search for Giant Squid.

--
Sea Serpent.

-- Search For Africa's Most Secret Animals.

--
Secrets of Alchemy: The Great Cross and the End of Time - DVD.

--
The Flight of Dragons.

--
The Last Unicorn DVD.

--
The Little Unicorn DVD.

--
The Magical Legend of the Leprechauns DVD.

--
The Magick of Solomon - A History of Western Magick DVD.

--
The Mysterious Monsters DVD.

--
Unexplained Mysteries DVD.

-- Click
HERE for more related videos.

-- Click HERE for the best prices on top-selling DVD titles.
 


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-- Dragon Fire T-Shirt.

-- Fire Eyes Dragon T-shirt.

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Lost Dragon Valley The Mountain T-shirt.
   
 

       
-- Cryptozoology 101.

-- Greek Mythology.


--
Finding Your Animal Teachers.

--
Working with Your Animal Allies, Teachers and Totems.

--
Understanding Parapsychology and the Paranormal.

-- Click HERE for more new age and alternative beliefs courses.



Suggested Art prints and Posters:

         
Celtic Dragon
Celtic Dragon
Anne Stokes
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Basilisk Depicted with Wings Birdlike But with a Tail
Basilisk Depicted with Wings Birdlike But with a Tail Giclee Print
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Saint George with His Foot on the Neck of the Dragon He Has Just Slain
Saint George with His Foot on the Neck of the Dragon He Has Just Slain Giclee Print
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The Sorcerer's Apprentice Accidentally Lets the Dragon out of the Bottle Giclee Print
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The Mythical Phoenix Rising from Ashes
The Mythical...
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Pegasus, by Jacopo de'Barbari
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Three Unicorns
Three Unicorns Art Print
Wingerter, Linda
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    Alchemy Sagnov
Alchemy Sagnov
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The Dragon of Wantley Seizes Another Victim
The Dragon of Wantley Seizes Another Victim Giclee Print
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    Sphinx
Sphinx
Derek Mckindles
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Fight Between a Dragon and a Lion, a Detail
Fight Between a...
Leonardo da...
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    Arachne, from the 12th Canto of Dante's "Purgatory"
Arachne, from the...
Gustave Doré
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Hercules and the Lernaean Hydra, after Gustave Moreau, circa 1876
Hercules and the Lernaean Hydra, after Gustave Moreau, circa 1876 Giclee Print
Berchere,...
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    Dragon from the Caves of Mount Pilatus Switzerland
Dragon from the Caves of Mount Pilatus Switzerland Giclee Print
Kircher,...
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Hercules Slays the Hydra of Lerna
Hercules Slays...
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    Yoveo
Yoveo
Lynne Davies
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-- Click HERE for more related art prints and posters.
 
-- Click HERE for related magazines and periodicals.
 
 

Suggested Books:

             
     
-- A Guide to the Imaginary Birds of the World.

-- Animals in Celtic Life and Myth.

--
Behold...the Dragons!

-- Bestiary: An Illuminated Alphabet of Medieval Beasts.

-- Bewildering Beasties (Dover Pictorial Archive Series).

--
Birds and Beasts of Ancient Latin America.

--
Curious and Fantastic Creatures (Dover Pictorial Archives).

--
Dancing With Dragons: Invoke Their Ageless Wisdom & Power.

-- Dictionary of Symbolic And Mythological Animals.

--
Dragon Tarotdeck.

-- Dragonart: How to Draw Fantastic Dragons and Fantasy Creatures.

-- Dragonology: The Complete Book of Dragons.

--
Dragons: A Book of Designs.

-- Dragons: A Natural History.

--
Dragons, Unicorns and Sea Serpents: A Classic Study of the Evidence for Their Existence.

-- Dragons 2008 Wall Calendar.

--
Dragons and Unicorns: A Natural History.

-- Encyclopedia of Things That Never Were: Creatures, Places, and People.

-- Fabulous Beasts.

--
Fabulous Monsters.

-- From Flying Toads to Snakes with Wings: From the Pages of Fate Magazine.

-- Great Book of Dragon Patterns: The Ultimate Design Sourcebook for Artists and Craftspeople.

--
Hargreaves New Illustrated Bestiary.

--
Hydra and Kraken, Or, the Lore and Lure of Lake-Monsters and Sea-Serpents.

-- Magickal, Mythical, Mystical Beasts: How to Invite Them into Your Life.

-- Mysteries of the Bizarre Animals and Freaks of Nature (Strange Unsolved Mysteries).

--
Mysterious America: The Revised Edition.

-- Mythical and Fabulous Creatures: A Source Book and Research Guide.

-- Mythical Beasts.

-- Mythical Birds & Beasts from Many Lands.

--
Mythical Monsters.

--
Olde Missus Milliwhistle's Book of Beneficial Beasties.

--
Pegasus.

--
Pegasus: The Flying Horse.

--
Pegasus the Winged Horse.

-- Practical Guide to Dragons.

--
Strange Birds (Birds Up Close).

--
The Age of Fable.

--
The Bestiary (Dramatic Supplement).

--
The Book of Dragons.

-- The Book of Fabulous Beasts: A Treasury from Ancient Times to the Present.

-- The Complete Guide to Mysterious Beings.

--
The Discovery of Dragons.

--
The Dragon Tarot.

--
The Flying Horse: The Story of Pegasus (All Aboard Books Reading Level 1).

--
The Hydra (Monsters of Mythology).

-- The Lion and the Unicorn.


--
The Mythological Monsters And Animals Of Chaldea
.

-- The Secret World of Unicorns.

-- The Unicorn: An Historical Fantasy.

-- The Unicorn Book of 1955.

-- The Unicorn Book of 1956.

-- The Unicorn Book of 1957.

-- Treasury of Fantastic and Mythological Creatures: 1087 Renderings from Historic Sources.


--
Unexplained!

-- Wonder Beasts: Tales and Lore of the Phoenix, the Griffin, the Unicorn, and the Dragon.

-- Click HERE for more related books.

-- Click HERE for the best prices on top-selling book titles.
 

 

  

Further info:

-- Legendary Creatures.
-- Mysterious Creatures.
-- Unicorn.
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