Deer must be one of my favorite animals. You just got to love those brown eyed, big eared voracious eaters, forest dwellers that often find their way into urbanized areas as well. I am always happy to spot them on the edges of my town crossing the road that divides fields and woods. There is something especially magical about seeing deer on a warm, humid summer morning, as they move swiftly through mist like blue shadows across open land and through wheat fields only to disappear into the safety of the forest just seconds before day breaks.
In July 2017 I experienced one very moving deer encounter, the one I will always cherish. On a sultry evening during a particularly unpleasant heat wave I went outside hoping to take pictures of a sunset. But heavy, humid weather diffused the sunlight muddying the colors, making the whole landscape look boring. Instead of taking pictures I just kept on strolling around. As it got darker my attention was drawn to the Moon and wanting to get a nice picture of it I found myself on a walking trail next to a creek, a lovely place for people to walk their dogs, hang out with friends or play with their kids. Gazing at the Moon I was caught by surprise as two deer rushed by next to me so close they almost knocked me over. They ran over the trail, jumped down form at least 5 meter high hill straight into the creek, continued racing through water to finally slip into the dark tunnel of trees under the bridge, a passage into local forest. I was fascinated by their maneuvers all executed at the same speed of motion.
The event shook me up, not only because deer almost knocked me over but because nobody else seemed to react to them. I stood still and kept staring into the dark tunnel under the bridge. Later that night I had a dream of coming closer to this very spot, this dark entry leading into forest, it felt like a portal into the unknown, into something potentially dangerous, dark or scary. In my dream I was afraid of what lived on the other side of this entrance yet I walked in anyway encouraged by confidence displayed by deer when rushing into darkness. As if their bold and assured move sparked something bold and daring in me as well even if only in a dream. As my dream unfolded and I walked through the dark forest of my mind and soul I realized my fear of the unknown was unfounded and I was more than capable of facing (and embracing) whatever I believed was dark in me. A dream became a vehicle of healing a waking fear.
After I woke up I thought more about my encounter with deer and how it was almost like an initiation of sorts, an event that moved me to explore darker parts of me through dream state. Perhaps, in some sense, they showed me the door into the dark forest of my heart and invited me to explore it fearlessly. It made me appreciate those beautiful, graceful animals even more and also opened me to different ways nature speaks to us in subtle yet powerful language blurring the boundaries between reality and dreams, our environment, our outer and inner worlds. I don’t paint deer very often, but I do incorporate lessons they taught me into my creative process, a lessons of boldly stepping into the what appears dark and scary territory and lessons of using dreams as healing tool as well a source of inspiration. Magic is truly all around us.