We have all seen various images of unicorns, and the unicorn itself has been embraced as a symbol for various meanings in history. You can find images and descriptions of unicorns dating all the way back to biblical times, and they have even been embraced by Kings, Countries and Empires.
Images of unicorns throughout time have also varied greatly from powerful beasts to pure white horse-like animals that can fly. This is because they have been tied to so many symbols and beliefs over the years.
We want to take a closer look at the different things unicorns have symbolized over time and why they were chosen to be such a diverse array of symbolism.
Unicorns have long been associated with purity and innocence and we can find examples of this throughout human history. Many have believed that only the pure of heart could ever see a unicorn, in fact the belief was that a unicorn would refuse to show itself to anyone who wasn’t pure themselves.
That is why it was long believed that only a virgin could tame a unicorn. This belief was based off of a story that a unicorn approached a woman who was a virgin and laid its head on the woman’s lap and fell asleep. The belief went even further as they believed unicorns could detect who was a virgin and who was not. If the woman was a virgin the unicorn would lay its head on her lap, if she was not it would stab her with its horn.
The horn itself of the unicorn was also to believed to be pure and have purification power. It was believed that a unicorns horn could purify water and food.
Lastly, the link to unicorns and purity is also why we so often see them depicted as being white. The color white is very often associated with purity and innocence around the world.
As mentioned in the previous paragraph unicorns have long been tied to virginity and women so I won’t go much further into that aspect of it. I will however add that unicorn hunters back in the day wouldn’t even attempt to hunt them without a woman present because of the belief in the connection that women (especially virgins) had with unicorns.
Another symbol linking unicorns to femininity is its connection to the moon. The moon itself has been connected to women and their natural cycle with its own lunar cycle. That is why you find so many paintings and other artwork of unicorns at night, more specifically in the direct moonlight or under the moon.
The main connection of unicorns with magic is the belief that unicorns hold infinite possibilities. Some believe that at all times we have infinite possibilities surrounding us but only a unicorn can give us the necessary vision to see these possibilities. Unicorns are also believed to be able to pass from the visible world into the invisible world at anytime and is why many believe they are so difficult to find.
Unicorns are also believed to posses divine energy, purifying properties, great strength, ability to remain undetected, visions into peoples souls, power of flight, and being surrounded by a special magical aura.
The people of Scotland long believed the unicorn to be the strongest of all animals. Many pictures from Scotland depict the Unicorn with chains around its neck as they could not be contained by men. The people of Scotland also believed the unicorn was the only animal able to fight a lion, which is the background story to how the unicorn became the National Animal of Scotland. Scotland fought for many years against England who’s symbol was the lion, so Scotland chose the unicorn based off their belief in its power.
The earliest paintings and depictions of unicorns were nothing like how we see them today, in fact they were mostly large, muscular, and bulky beast like animals.
As we can see based off these examples the unicorns have been tied to a variety of symbols and beliefs. They range anywhere from purity and innocence to strength and power which seem like opposite traits, however we believe this just show the diversity in what the unicorn is capable of.
Unicorns are also believed to be a “Spirit Animal” there are numerous tests you can take online that will tell you what your Spirit Animal is…how awesome it would be to find out the unicorn was your Spirit Animal?