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Unicorns Defined: The History, Symbolism and Deeper Meanings of the Unicorn

Unicorn Definition

Throughout history the unicorn has been depicted as a pale white horse with a single grooved horn extending from its forehead; a feature that is not found anywhere else in the animal kingdom. Sure, there are narwhals – the large arctic porpoise with a single long eye tooth extending from its mouth. There’s the rhinoceros and the aptly named unicorn fish; with a large fleshy horn-like growth on its head. But there’s no animal quite like the elusive and mysterious, rainbow farting unicorn.

The Unicorn in History

For a supposed legendary creature the unicorn appears a lot in documented history. Images of the unicorn were found etched into stone seals unearthed in areas previously inhabited by the ancient Indus Valley Civilisation, estimated to be from as long ago as 2500 BC. And interestingly, the unicorn doesn’t make an appearance in ancient Greek Mythology but it does feature in the Greek records of natural history.

The Unicorn not only appeared in the bible, translated from the word Re’em,  but it was painted, sculpted and woven into various scenes depicting the virgin Mary. The famous bronze statue Virgin Mary Holding Unicorn is still on display at the National Museum in Warsaw today.

The Virgin and the Unicorn

The unicorn has always had an association with the virgin. Perhaps due to its symbolism of purity. Even Leonardo Di Vinci wrote about the unicorn and the virgin in his notebooks. Legend has it that only a female virgin could attract and tame the illusory creature. The tale went further to include that said virgin would then be made to tame the unicorn so that hunters could slay the beast in order to retrieve its horn. The seven part story of the Hunt of the Unicorn was woven into tapestries which still hang in the Cloisters of the Met.

Unicorn Horn and Alicorn Powder

For millennia unicorn horn was considered to be a prized commodity. Kings were gifted cups said to be carved from the horns of the creatures, which were said to protect against poisons. The throne chair of Denmark was believed by many to be made from the horns of unicorns.

Ground unicorn horn was known as alicorn powder and it had many medicinal uses. Up until around the 1800 it was used to purify potentially contaminated water, taken to protect against plague and administered as a treatment for most ailments. Some even believed that it could bring the gift of eternal life. The price the powder fetched was so high that alicorn was a substance only reserved for royalty.

 The Unicorn as a Totem

My first encounter with unicorns was as a young child. I wasn’t out in the forest or in a deep dream, nope, I was watching a very young Tom Cruise in Legend. When the unicorns trotted onto the screen I was transfixed. My whole body shivered with goosebumps – the way it still does today when I am confronted with a heavy realisation or a spark of inspiration. I knew right then that the unicorn was important. That it was to be my guide and my totem for life.

I didn’t quite know how or why at the time but I knew in the deepest part of my soul that one day the importance of the unicorn would present itself to me, and many years later, it did.

Modern Symbolism

These days unicorns are everywhere! The unicorn has become a symbol for individuality and authenticity. It’s used as a term to describe a startup company worth over a billion dollars, a symbol for gay pride and a urban dictionary term for a sexually experimental person who enjoys sleeping with couples! 

The Full Time Unicorn

Personally, I believe a unicorn is anyone who chooses to embrace the magic in life. It’s a person who follows their heart and follows the yearning deep inside them to do what they are called to do. It means having a voice and choosing to use it. It means honouring your quirks and understanding that your true mighty power resides in your weirdness, not in your ability to camouflage it.

Being a unicorn takes bravery. It takes big sparkly to be your true authentic self and boldly step into the world owning your awesomeness.

If you’ve ever felt like you don’t belong; you are a unicorn. If you’ve ever felt like you think differently to other people; you are a unicorn. If you’ve ever felt like you have strange and wonderful gifts to offer the world; you are a unicorn. If you’ve ever felt like you’re connected to something bigger, something magical and something wonderful, then you my friend are a unicorn.

It’s time to stop pretending to be anything other than what you are.

Your ideas, your thoughts, your dreams, they are the stuff of legends. Stop holding back and holding yourself in* it’s time you stopped apologising for who you are and started letting that magic free.

Do the world a massive favour and be yourself! Please! We can’t wait to meet you and experience your gifts!

Full Time Unicorn

*Unless you are a bigot or a murderer. Feel free to suppress that shit.

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