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Unicorns - enchanted



Unicorns
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Unicorns - unicorn
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Many varieties of Unicorn have been reported through the ages and from around the world. The most famous kind is probably that which appears in the tapestries of the European Middle Ages. These show the milk-white Unicorn looking horse like at first glance but more delicately build and with distinctly cloven hooves like that of a deer. It has a wispy beard and long, silky mane and tail. The horn stands out straight and tall from the centre of its forehead.

It is said that Unicorns's eyes are deep blue and seems to be full of stars. They are also reputed to be able to converse with humans but in a strange telepathic way that has no need for words. Their audible voice is rarely heard and then only as a cry of rage when driven beyond endurance, a screem so dreadful that often it is enough in itself to destroy the sanity of an aggressor.

Unicorns are not easily provoked but they guard their lives and independance fiercely and would sooner die than submit to the indignity of capture. Usualy they are of a placid, gently disposition and the natural friend of most other creatures.

The touch of a Unicorn's horn dispels poison, so other beasts let it drink first from the spring. This is one reason why the Unicorn is often called Lord of the Beasts and why all pure-hearted animals will shield it from its enemies if they can.

Although friendly towards other animals, the Unicorn is solitary by inclination, particularly keeping away from its own kind exept after mating, when couples live together in tenderness while rearing their young.

Unicorns have always been fond of maidens. The Unicorn's trust in maidens is thought by some to be due to its association, in pagan times and lands, with cults of the moon and the priestesses who administered to them.

The Harz Mountains of central Germany have long been concidered a haunt of the unicorn, known as the Einhorn, and there is still a cave there today called the Einhornhohle.

In 1663, great excitement was prompted by the discovery of a large Unicorn skeleton. It was found among piles of other fossil bones in a limestone cave near Quendlinburg, a little north of the Harz Mountains. Crowds flocked to the site and many helped themselves to souvenirs. After a legal battle, the Abbess of Quendlinburg took charge. Despite her supervision, the skeleton was damaged during the excavations.

Scientific examination was undertaken by the famous scientist, Otto von Guericke. The most interesting feature, the skull, survived intact, firmly attached to it was a single, straight, tapering horn some seven feet in length. Perhaps proof was at last found of the Unicorn's existance.

About a hundred years later, a similar skeleton was unearthed in the Einhornloch at nearby Scharzfeld, and both were examined by the philosopher and scientist Leibniz. He declared that these bones had completely converted him to a belief in Unicorns, whose existance he had previously doubted.

In an interview with Die Ganze Woch magazine in December 1991, the renowned Austrian naturalist Antal Festetics, made a startling claim. While filming a wildlife documentary in the Harz Mountains, he had,he said, been out on horseback one night with a video camera, when, 'Suddenly a Unicorn came towards me at a gallop. There was a glow of light around the animal. My horse reared and almost threw me. Then, just as quickly, it was gone.' What is more, Festetics claims to have captured the encounter on video. The footage is on hand in Gottingen for sceptics to view, though none was broadcast in his three-part programme.

Whatever the truth, one can hardly imagine a more likely place to find a Unicorn in this day and age. The forest is domintated by Brocken Mountains, it is one of the last true wildernesses left in Europe, a slice of the dark enchanted wood of German folklore and legend, and one of the last possible refuges for creatures such as Unicorns that are unable to tolerate close proximity to humans.

The Unicorn is found in legends accross the world. In Buddhism legend has it that when the Buddha delivered his famous sermon at Benares, a Unicorn came and knelt at his feet to listen. Depicted as a one-horned gazelle, its single curved horn was seen as a symbol of Nirvana. The beast itself was viewed as a model of good behaviour. In Tibet, where Buddhism became the national religion, the Unicorn was widely celebrated in art and sculpture.

Unicorns remain a mystery flitting through the borderlands of possibility. Creatures of the moon and of water, Unicorns share their reflective nature. There is always one Unicorn anyone can find on a star map or in the heavens between Orion and the belt of Cancer. How the constelation received its name of Unicornis is, appropriately enough, unknown.

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