In order to begin the analysis of the nature of white animals in modern day as well as mythology we must first look at what the color symbolizes. The color white can mean several things depending upon your interpretation but in general it is; peace, love, simplicity, innocence, spirituality and the concept of light. Though there are several white animals scattered throughout many myths I have condensed this to only a few. The importance of white animals is not as wide spread in modern time as it was in the ancient times that brought us many myths. Many of the animals that are important today get their status from the actual myth itself.
There are many white animals in Celtic and Welsh mythology. They are generally pursued by a hunter who notices them due to their unnatural color. There is the appearance of a white stag in many of the Arthurian tales. In these tales the white stag is generally leading a knight to a battle or magic. In these tales the white animal takes on the role of an intermediary , guiding people to their destiny. (Divine Intervention? Maybe.)
In line with the Celtic and Welsh the Hungarians also have a white stag. The ruler of Sumeria, Nimrud had two sons, Hunor and Magor that followed a white stag to a bountiful land that they ended up settling. The decedents of these two sons are the Huns and the Magyar. They believe that the stag was a magical creature that led them to their destiny.
Southeast Asian cultures have many white animals in their myths. Most notable is the White Elephant. It was told that a white elephant appeared in a dream to Queen Mahamaya. In this dream the elephant gave the gift of a lotus while she was conceiving the child that would later be Lord Buddha. The lotus is a symbol of purity and divine birth. It is the white animal in this myth that delivers purity and spirituality.
Native American Myth is rich with animals of importance. The myth White Buffalo Calf Woman is very important to the Lakota. As there have been white buffalo births in recent years, I feel it is important to know the story so that we can understand why people feel those births are significant.
While two warriors are out hunting they come across a white buffalo calf. As they get closer she turns into a woman. One of the warriors has bad thoughts about this woman and she asks him to step forward. As he steps forward a black cloud consumes him and when it left there was no sign of the warrior. The other warrior kneels and starts to pray. The woman told him to tell his people that she would deliver a sacred package in four days.
On the fourth day a cloud appeared in the sky and a white buffalo came down out of it. When it touched the ground it turned into the woman, who was holding a bundle. She gave the people the bundle and thought them seven sacred ceremonies.
She left the bundle with the people in the promise that she would return again someday to get the bundle back. As she left she rolled four times and turned into a White buffalo again.
The bundle is known as the White Buffalo Bundle and is still kept protected to this day by Avrol Looking Horse on the Cheyenne Indian Reservation in South Dakota. It is also believed that when the woman returns she will restore harmony, balance and spirituality.
In present day the white elephant and the white buffalo hold important meaning to the cultures in which the myth began. When sited they are believed to be messengers of peace. Think of all the news when a white buffalo was born recently.
In the Hindu religion the white elephant is considered to be a sacred symbol of appreciation. A gift of a white elephant statue is seen as a gift of good luck and is similar to receiving a Buddha.
Among those cultural meanings we have the thought that white animals bring higher thoughts, higher ideals, purity, cleansing of spirit and the attaining of higher knowledge, peace and love. Think of what the presence of a dove means to you. Doves are released at wedding in celebration of unity, love and harmony. This goes along with the belief that seeing a dove flying overhead will bring good luck for the year.
As we can see most of the white animals that we believe to hold important meaning to us today came from the belief ancient people had in myths and legends.
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