October 26: Yukon Cornelius sees a White Stag

Hiddens and Cryptids and Monsters can all have a spiritual side, if they choose. Some Moth Men believe in an all-compelling Great Light; others believe they are the vessel of warning to those careening into darkness. Chupacabrae and Vampires regard blood as a wellspring of emotions and memories, and drinking others bring them closer to something they think of as Bliss. Many Moon Fairies and Sun Fairies worship their deities in the skies, while other fairies are pure hedonists and affirm their own self-guidance as the best way to live. I’ve seen some Bigfoots revere asceticism until they can disappear into the world they are a part of; hermit sphinxes, searching for The Answers; questing leprechauns, abandoning their gold for something more substantial; daemons who search the minds of sleepers as research to a grand theory of everything. Spirituality seeds every being, grows in many. Our inability to see it in those unlike ourselves speaks more to our own primitive minds than it does to the quality or quantity of others’ mysticism.

Bumble believes in synchronicities. If he hears something three times, or sees it, or reads something that correlates two other things, he stops and listens to the universe for further conversation.  He attunes. He will sign to me that the World is Speaking. Does he seem more meditative to me because he doesn’t have much of a vocal language?  Because he is quiet? I don’t know, but I do think he has watered and tended his spiritual side more than I have.  

My mother was a mystic. She spoke with Bigfoots long before I was aware of her conversations with them. She was chatty outside in the garden, at the clothesline, or picking cranberries, and I thought she was just telling herself about her day. They were invisible. They can do that. Most of her mysticism she picked up from them. They taught her, especially when I was away. They taught her about life, about death, and how to walk away with them into the wild, possibly to never die. That’s where she is now. With them in some nether place. I don’t know if she died. I may never know. I can’t mourn her—she might be alive. I don’t know. I just miss her. We never got to say goodbye. I don’t blame her. I blame them, sometimes, though I know it was her choice, and her health was failing.

I was off on a quest. A quest I was warned about. Told not to go. I wasn’t afraid of something bad happening to me, though. Turns out, it wasn’t me that something happened to. When I came back she was gone. I searched for her. Maybe that warning WAS about something happening to me—pain and loss and regret that I’d never truly released. And some anger. They’re the only cryptid I didn’t go check on. Bigfoots were notoriously self-reliant and more hidden than Hiddens. I didn’t go looking for them. They didn’t come to me. I’ve always thought it was better that way.

But this morning, something happened that I can’t explain. I was drinking coffee on the deck looking out across our country yard. ‘Snow had fallen, snow on snow,’ as the song goes. After the colder weather we’d had lately, this morning was warmer, the snow seeming to usher in a warmth so enticing, half naked men want to come outside and sit on the deck in flannel pajama bottoms and house shoes. I watched jays and sparrows and chickadees at Bumble’s City of Feeders jostling for seeds.

Then, in the distance, across the snow, I saw a white stag standing, looking at me. Many deer species have a white genetic pattern that is rare, but it happens. I thought to myself all the times in mythology and folklore that someone would see a white stag and how it symbolized something different for everyone depending on their belief system. Purity, innocence, some saw it as a sign to convert to a particular faith. It did look otherworldly, standing out there, even with its legs deep in the snow. It kept looking at me. What an incredible moment just to witness, I thought. I continued to drink coffee and look at it. The pursuit of a white stag is a fairly common trope in fairy tales too. You can never catch them—but they lead you to someplace new. A spiritual quest sometimes. Well, as I’d mentioned, I wasn’t the most spiritual person—more in awe of the wonder I saw everyday (and with all the Hiddens I knew existed, there was plenty of wonder in every day!) I thought, Go on, Big Deer, I’m not going to follow you on some spiritual quest.

But it stood there. Looking at me. I got up and walked to the railing at the edge of the deck, hoping I didn’t spook it away. It didn’t move. It looked like a caribou (reindeer to most folks) but I couldn’t be sure at this distance and with the white deer against the white snow, I was lucky to see it at all. As the seconds ticked by, I started to wonder if this were a Hidden. I waited to see if they would come to me. I waved to let them know I saw them. Drank coffee. Waited. They continued to stare at me. If they were a Hidden, perhaps they were fulfilling a role for someone in this community. I did have houses nearby, who could see the deer. I wondered what kind of role it might be playing for someone. I confess we didn’t know our neighbors well because our house is frequently visited by Hiddens in the night. We chose a place where we could keep everything covert for them.

You know, I thought, white stags were also seen as messengers from the Otherworld in some cultures.

The stag never wavered. It simply looked at me across the long yard. Maybe 30-40 yards away. “Why are you here?” I whispered to myself. Who needed a message? If Bumble were here, I’d ask him—is it meaning something to you? But he wasn’t. Just me.

Was I the person the stag was here for?  I thought about that. Messages from the otherworld. They weren’t coming to me. Who would send me a message? And then, suddenly, I knew it was about my mom. I was sure. I tried to put the coffee cup down but missed the railing and the cup disappeared into the snow.

“Stay right there,” I called out.  “I’ll be right–,” I looked around for snow boots or galoshes. I hopped around tossing my slippers behind me. I found my snow boots, looked over my shoulder. The White Stag was still there. “I’m just putting on some boots!” I didn’t want it to leave, so I skipped the shirt, launched right into the yard. The first few yards were fine, and then the snow got deeper, and deeper. My steps slowed. It started snowing again. Big flakes. Much deeper now than the boots could handle, and I could feel the snow through my PJ pants.  I was stepping over hurdles. Lifting my legs high enough for the next step was so slow. I fell several times. I looked up and they were still there, calm, and now only half the distance away. They came up to my waist. Apparently my plan for taking the most direct route to get to them was through a small valley. How much did it snow??

I fell face first into a drift, and looked up, my body covered in snow, and it was still at least 10 yards away, “Do you have a message for me?” Was she alive? Had she died? Is this the way they tell someone that there was a death?  Assholes. The Bigfoots could just come find me themselves. I was frustrated, cold, the snow on my skin pierced through. The stag just looked at me. “Did you need my help?” I called, standing up and trying to leap into the air. “I can help—” and fell deeper into the snowdrift. The snow was up to my chest. “Please,” I begged. “Is she okay? Is there a message for me?” The next leap was shallower, and I realized the deer was on a small hill. I climbed, pushing the snow out of my way, till I could almost touch them. “What do you need?” Their eyes were kind.  “Bumble can speak some sign—he’s not here—but I can’t speak Hidden or deer or whatever you speak. I hope you understand me.”

I reached out my hand, asking, “Can I touch you?” They lowered their head. I lurched through the drift now at my knees and my hand connected to their body. Warm. I pushed the last few feet, my other hand touching them. They stood steady. “I’m here. I’m here,” I said, out of breath. “Do you—is there a—do you have a message?” They didn’t speak. Nothing. “But I thought you might have a message for me. Are you here because of my mom?  Did they send you? Did she send you?” It closed its eyes and touched my head with its warm head. I cried, “Is there—anything?” I just erupted—like a well full of tears was being pulled out of me. I must have cried heavy for more than a few minutes, and the stag kept their head against mine. Maybe there was no message for me at all.  I wondered what I was there for. This was all mystery and no answers. I felt just like I did that day discovering she was gone, with her little jaunty note, “It’s okay. I’ve gone to live with the Bigfoots. Don’t worry about me. This is the best way. Love, Mom.” I had no real answers then; of course I worried. I went off into the forest to find her, to find them, for a week. If this is about her, I can’t have the message in front of me and not be able to hear it.  No. No. This is my message. This message is for me. “Why won’t you tell me the message?” I asked. They opened their eyes. I thought they would speak, and they didn’t.  This made no sense.  How can a Messenger from the Otherworld come to you and not have a message?

I said to myself, “Because they don’t have it yet.”

I asked, “Can you take messages?” They blinked slowly. “To my mom?” They blinked again. I  laughed, held my hand over my mouth for a minute, fighting back tears again. “Tell her I love her.  Tell her I miss her. Ask her if I get to see her again. Ask her to send me something to tell me she’s okay.” I stopped. “Oh. Wait,” I said, realizing. “That’s you. She sent you to tell me she was okay.” They blinked. I held onto the neck of the stag, buried my face in its fur and cried hot tears. In a few minutes, I lifted my head and laughed. “Twenty-five years to tell me she’s okay.” Then I thought, “Hey, she’s made it twenty-five more years! She’s made it a long time.” I wiped my eyes. “I guess it was the right thing,” I said quietly. “Tell the—tell the Bigfoots,” I looked at the snow coming down. “Tell them thank you for taking care of her.” The snow gathered on the deer’s back. “Maybe they can come see me sometime and we can talk.  Yeah, I’d like to see them. And her if it’s possible. Can you say all that? Can you tell them everything?” The snow on their eyelids tumbled as they blinked once for me. “Okay. Take those messages with you, please. Thank you for coming.”

The path back to the house was easier because I had shoved all the snow aside with my falling stumbling body. I’d made my own good path to the house, a path only visible on the way back. But it felt like someplace new, or I was new. I don’t know. That was perhaps the most spiritual thing I’d ever experienced—a complete mystery that I attached some meaning to, hoping I was right, hoping the blinks were yes. All I know is that it gave me relief and some peace. I don’t know if she got the message, but I believe she did.  I hear my friends who are spiritual talk in this same way. It’s why I think of this as a spiritual experience–so much balances on mystery and belief.

When Bumble comes back from his trip, I will tell him I’ve heard the World Speaking.  Maybe he will sit down on the couch and help me understand what I’ve heard.

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