What Do Deer Mean in Dreams?

Updated on January 21, 2019
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Aisling Ireland, author of Dog Funeral Evangelism, writes extensively on dream symbolism, Jungian psychology, and Eastern Orthodoxy.

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What Do Deer Dreams Mean?

Deer may not be in the top ten of all dream symbols, but when they do show up they are as magical in dream life as they are in the waking world.

When deer take the stage in dreams, they can be the embodiments of guides or messengers. Additionally, they may symbolize:

  • Resurrection
  • Grace in trials
  • Success and prosperity
  • Christ

Which of the above does your dream deer symbolize?

Let's read on and find out!

Deer as Resurrection Symbols

Did you know that deer antlers are bone?

They are!

Horns grow on bovids—cows, goats, sheep and the like. Antlers grow on cervids—all deer, elk, and caribou. Horns are made from keratin, the same thing your finger and toe nails are made of. Antlers are made of bone.

Horns grow throughout an animal's entire lifetime; they never fall off.

Antlers grow only through mating season. The end of the year's mating season is the end of that year's antlers. But the deer don't worry about losing their antlers; they grow back the next year with the whole process beginning again.

And what does any of that have to do with deer dreams?

The growth, shedding, and regrowth of cervid antlers is one of the factors that make deer beautiful symbols of resurrection. This is bone that is regrowing—not cut fingernails. This is the same substance that carries and forms the substance of life-blood.

Horns also grow in a point, antlers branch off making them symbolically similar to the Tree of Life.

Those facts coupled with the fact that deer are associated with Christ make them wonderful symbols of Resurrection.

Have you been going through a rough time, living through something you hope is coming to an end, or completing a cycle in your life? If so, deer dreams may mean that you are returning to life after a period of trial.

Deer grow extra points after each shedding. When we undergo trials and emerge victorious we also grow new "points." Resurrection doesn't simply mean a return to what was. Resurrection, ἀνάστασις (anástasis) in Greek, means a "re-standing" —it means being brought back and stood aright, brought to something new and better than what was before.

Deer as guides and messengers.
Deer as guides and messengers. | Source

Deer as Guides and Messengers

In the mythologies and folklore of cultures such as the Celts, the Scots, the Native Americans, and the Huichol, deer were considered messengers.

For the Huichol, deer translated the language of the divine into words human beings could comprehend.

In Christianity, several saints were transformed and/or converted after encountering deer who either in visions or in answer to prayer made the divine accessible to them.

When deer appear in dreams they may be guiding the dreamer to deeper spirituality or asking the dreamer to be attentive to the soul's calls to encounter the divine.

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Grace in Trials

Deer have the ability to move as beautifully and gracefully through forests no matter whether they are simply grazing on vegetation or fleeing a predator. It doesn't matter if they are in a safe space or literally running for their lives, they still move like air.

If going through a time of trial, dreams of deer can remind us that it is always preferable to attempt to move through adversity with peace in our hearts, instead of allowing ourselves to identify with and be defined by our adversaries and adversity.

Deer as Symbols of Success and Prosperity

Because of their antlers which shed and return more beautifully and more spectacularly with each passing year, deer in dreams are wonderful symbols of success and prosperity.

Deer antlers will regrow every season—they will regrow from nothing and come back from that nothing not just as they were before but with more points than they had the last year.

Think about that for a moment—the same amount of time between antler shedding and maturity passes. The length of the season does not change, but the antlers growth does.

A deer in a dream may symbolize a sort of exponential growth in your own life—either spiritually, mentally, emotionally, or physically. Well done!

Did You Know?

There really are reindeer with red noses! Some reindeer have very dense blood vessels near their skin's surface making their noses red.

Oisin the Deer Dog.
Oisin the Deer Dog. | Source

Deer in Mythology

Because learning about a symbol's mythological significance can be key to interpreting its dream meaning, here is a table of a few ways deer appear in various cultures' mythologies.

Culture
Name
Mythology
Jewish
Keresh
Giant stag inhabiting the mythic forest of Bei Ilai.
Slavic
Golden Horned Deer
Beautiful deer creature with golden antlers popular in Slavic/Uralic cultures in the 18th century.
Insular Celts
Supernatural Deer
Numerous stories associating deer with spiritual figures as well as humans shapeshifting into deer.
Scottish/Irish
Deer as Fairy Cattle
Deer as "cattle" tended and herded by fairies such as the bean-sídhe.
Celtic
Oisin
Legendary poet born to a woman turned into a deer by a druid.
Huichol
Magical Deer
Translates the language of the divine into human language. Embodiment of that which feeds the soul and nourishes the body.

Saints and Deer

The number of saints and churches associated with deer further underscores their significance as a spiritual symbol. Here are a few of them.

Saint Eustace

Eastern Orthodox saint commemorated on September 20. St. Eustace was a Roman general named Placidus who encountered a magnificent stag. When he gave chase he saw a vision of a crucifix between the stag's antlers. He immediately converted, taking the name Eustace meaning "steadfast." He was ultimately martyred.

Saint Giles

Saint Giles, predominantly revered in France, is a Catholic saint who lived in the Nîmes forest with his companion deer. He is traditionally depicted with his deer in artwork.

Saint King Ladislaus I and His Brother King Géza I of Hungary

The two noble brothers encountered a deer with what Geza originally thought were antlers filled with candles. Saint Ladislaus however, revealed to his brother that what they had encountered was no deer at all, but instead, was an Angel of the Lord with the antlers in fact, being wings and the candles, shining feathers.

King Clovis

Bishop Saint Gregory of Tours reported the story of how King Clovis I, in desperate need of finding a safe place for his army to cross the Vienne river, prayed to Christ to show him that place. In answer to his prayer, a giant deer appeared and leaped across the river, indicating the place where the army could cross.

The White Hart & Deer as Christ Symbols

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The White Hart and Christ

The White Hart was an integral part of Arthurian and Grail mythology. Just like St. Eustace, grail knights were alerted that it was time for them to leave behind the earthly world and pursue the Kingdom of Heaven by encounters with the White Hart.

Why does the White Hart stand in for Christ?

One reason is because of the symbolism of the color white, which is a universal symbol for purity. Another is that the White Hart was considered interchangeable with the unicorn which was itself a symbol of Christ. Another reason is that deer, by providing food with its very flesh was seen as an animal of capable of extreme sacrifice and unconditional love, qualities embodied by Christ Himself.

If dreaming of deer, and in particular a white deer, you may ask yourself if it is time for you, like the grail knights, to begin your own Grail quest and leave behind that which is temporal in favor of seeking that which is eternal.

Kenyan woman with her dearest deer.
Kenyan woman with her dearest deer.

Word Play

Dreams love using word play and deer dreams may, in fact, be attempting to communicate via pun. Deer dreams may be coming to you to ask you to consider what is "dear" to you.

Is there something you've been meaning to do but put off for some reason?

Is there a talent you've wanted to nurture but neglected because you feel it's not practical to indulge?

Is there a risk you'd love to take but are holding back on out of fear?

Your deer dream may be a message to start embracing that which is dear to you and stop clinging to what isn't.

Sometimes we forget what is "dear" to us, so take a look at the surrounding symbols in your dream, see what stands out, and investigate those areas as well. Remember what you were like as a little child, remember what you held close to your heart before you grew up and discarded that which wasn't practical.

Sometimes we surrender that which is dear to us because we mistakenly believe it isn't practical or useful when in fact, it may simply be that that which was given up simply hadn't had time to develop or wasn't in a place where it or you were mature enough to integrate it into your life.

Look around and see if it might be time to return to your "dearest."

The Last Nomadic Reindeer Herders on Earth

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2019 Aisling Ireland

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