Login  
 
 
Go Back   Chamber of Secrets > Harry Potter > The Cloak > The Pensieve

The White Stag and Doe



Reply
 
Thread Tools
  #1  
Old June 29th, 2011, 3:07 pm
eliza101  Female.gif eliza101 is offline
Banned
 
Joined: 4636 days
Location: Bag End
Posts: 1,605
The White Stag and Doe

With the launch of Pottermore I have been thinking about J K Rowling’s use of the Mythology of the United Kingdom in her books. Rowling has interwoven through her stories a lot of the British myths and legendary creatures. She has also utilized the legendary creatures of the mythologies most notably the Centaurs from Greek myth. One use of British myth that has always fascinated me because it is so beautiful is the Patronuses of James and Lily and by extension their son Harry. The White Stag and Doe. One reason that it interests me is because of the high importance place on deer by the Celts of ancient Britain. For the ancient hunters in the Highlands of Scotland, the deer was the most prominent symbol of prosperity. The highlands are not the most fertile of lands and hunting was very important if you wanted to feed yourself and your family. So we have the veneration of the deer. The deer in Scotland are Red Deer and sometimes you would get a deer that would have what is called leucism
a condition that reduces the natural pigment in skin and hair, such an animal would be termed white.
. Scarcity if something has always made that something to be valued and white deer were valued. They came to symbolise purity and in Scotland good luck. It has always been the most positive of symbols, incorporating the sun, long life, fertility and perhaps most importantly, entry to the land of faerie.
We can see this with James Potter. He is in many ways the entry to a faerie land for Lily. He is her heart’s true mate. Is it coincidence that a What Stag is also called a Hart. She is the Doe, the Stag’s mate and mother of offspring. But in modern literure the White Stag also leads us to normality as in The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. It is a White Stag that the four Pevensy grown Kings and Queens follow that leads them back out of Narnia and in to the portal to their original world. That the Stag and Doe are James’ and Lily’s Patronuses is I think very important. We see in the novels that it is possible for Patronuses to change Tonks’ and Snape’s Patronuses change but they were not the originals.
What really impresses me about this symbolism for Lily and James is how closely it does mirror the White deer in mythology. How the White Stag and Doe that is used to represent nobility and chivalry in heraldry is used in the books to convey the true nature of James and Lily. They can truly be seen to be the best representatives of the Wizarding World. The pureblood and Muggle unite to give birth to the bravest and the noblest of them all, Harry Potter.



Last edited by eliza101; June 29th, 2011 at 3:22 pm.
Reply With Quote
Sponsored Links
  #2  
Old June 30th, 2011, 12:56 pm
Daggerstone's Avatar
Daggerstone  Female.gif Daggerstone is offline
Splendide Mendax
 
Joined: 4056 days
Location: In Snape's pocket
Age: 42
Posts: 1,284
Re: The White Stag and Doe

Quote:
Originally Posted by eliza101 View Post
One reason that it interests me is because of the high importance place on deer by the Celts of ancient Britain.
Quite so. Apart from the "Tree Astrology" - which Jo used for associating wand wood with characters - the Celts of ancient Britain attributed animals to birth dates as well.

Date of Birth: December 24 – January 20
Celtic Birth Animal: STAG
Gaelic Name: DAMH (approximate pronunciation: DAV)
Ruling Planet: The Sun
Birthstone: Crystal
Key Words: Independence, Majesty, Integrity, Pride
Description: Stag people direct their energy and enterprise through ambitious strategy; they are also reliable and trustworthy; very successful financially
Gift, Quality or Ability: Sensitivity to the Otherworld, Shape Shifting, Initiation, Journeying
Compatibility: Harmonious relations with Adder and Salmon; will also relate well to Seal, Otter & Goose; difficulties may be expected in relation to all other signs


Incidentally, The White Stag is also coat of arms of Richard II of England, born on January 6th.


But I don't think it's necessarily the Celtic myth alone that Jo had in mind when using the symbol - The Horned God (like Cernunnos on Gundestrup cauldron) is a common solar deity in ancient cultures, even in Slavic regions.

Quote:
Originally Posted by eliza101 View Post
What really impresses me about this symbolism for Lily and James is how closely it does mirror the White deer in mythology.
I don't know if you're familiar with the Hungarian legend - I think you'll find the song quite interesting.


__________________
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old June 30th, 2011, 2:12 pm
OldMotherCrow's Avatar
OldMotherCrow  Female.gif OldMotherCrow is offline
Sixth Year
 
Joined: 4186 days
Location: Here. I'm pretty sure of it.
Posts: 1,297
Re: The White Stag and Doe

That was a great and informative essay, Eliza. I especially liked learning about Scottish mythology.

What I find interesting is that James's Animagus form is a stag, but apparently not a white one. Harry's Patronus transforms James into the White Stag, which could be seen as a transformation from fact to legend, but also as a transformation from life, to death, and back to life again (to paraphrase Dumbledore, the dead who loved us can be found within).


__________________
".... You've chosen your way, I've chosen mine."
I love Lily because she chooses a path to match her convictions, and chooses to live her life fighting for what is right. It is our choices that show who we truly are.

"UNTIL THE VERY END"
-- JK Rowling to Harry Potter fans at the beginning of Deathly Hallows, and James Potter to his son at the end of Deathly Hallows.
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old June 30th, 2011, 3:09 pm
MsJPotter  Undisclosed.gif MsJPotter is offline
Banned
 
Joined: 3346 days
Posts: 526
Re: The White Stag and Doe

Quote:
Originally Posted by Daggerstone View Post

Incidentally, The White Stag is also coat of arms of Richard II of England, born on January 6th.
Yeah, I found that Coat of Arms in my research. I like Eliza's take on heraldry.


Quote:
But I don't think it's necessarily the Celtic myth alone that Jo had in mind when using the symbol - The Horned God (like Cernunnos on [url="http://www.unc.edu/celtic/catalogue/Gundestrup/kauldron.html"]
I first read about Cernunnous in a real good book called 'The Horse Goddess' by Morganna Llewellan. She writes about the Celtic culture and mythology. It's fiction, but well researched fiction.

Quote:
I don't know if you're familiar with the Hungarian legend - I think you'll find the song quite interesting.
[/quote]

That's interesting

Quote:
Org Post OldMotherCrow:
That was a great and informative essay, Eliza. I especially liked learning about Scottish mythology.
Can I say how much I agree with this.

Quote:
What I find interesting is that James's Animagus form is a stag, but apparently not a white one. Harry's Patronus transforms James into the White Stag, which could be seen as a transformation from fact to legend, but also as a transformation from life, to death, and back to life again (to paraphrase Dumbledore, the dead who loved us can be found within
I thought it pretty obvious that in Harry's Patronus we see the embodiment of James and Lily's love for their son.



Last edited by MsJPotter; June 30th, 2011 at 3:14 pm.
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old July 4th, 2011, 9:03 pm
FurryDice's Avatar
FurryDice  Female.gif FurryDice is offline
Hogwarts Graduate
 
Joined: 4483 days
Location: Ireland
Age: 35
Posts: 2,591
Re: The White Stag and Doe

Very interesting essay, Eliza. I don't think it's clear if James' Animagus form was ever a white stag, but it's never shown or mentioned, so he might have been, or he might not. James is represented in the White Stag of Harry's Patronus, though, and the symbolism of that is beautiful.


__________________

Pic by julvett at deviantart http://julvett.deviantart.com/gallery/2984632
"Relationships are like glass; sometimes it's better to leave them broken than to hurt yourself trying to put them back together." Anonymous
"Like this one time I sort of ran over this girl on her bike. It was the most traumatising event of my life and she’s trying to make it about her leg. Like my pain meant nothing." - Cordelia; Buffy the Vampire Slayer S1Ep11.
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old July 9th, 2011, 11:02 am
eliza101  Female.gif eliza101 is offline
Banned
 
Joined: 4636 days
Location: Bag End
Posts: 1,605
Re: The White Stag and Doe

Quote:
Originally Posted by FurryDice View Post
Very interesting essay, Eliza. I don't think it's clear if James' Animagus form was ever a white stag, but it's never shown or mentioned, so he might have been, or he might not. James is represented in the White Stag of Harry's Patronus, though, and the symbolism of that is beautiful.
I think the image is certainly that of a White Stag as all Patronuses are refered to as silvery.


Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old June 1st, 2012, 11:32 am
Melaszka's Avatar
Melaszka  Female.gif Melaszka is offline
HighFunctioning Sociopath
 
Joined: 5068 days
Location: England
Age: 52
Posts: 3,294
Re: The White Stag and Doe

I have deleted a couple of posts. I do not want to see this thread turn into a massive breach of the No Snape Vs The Marauders rule by stealth. And I would remind people that the rules against character bashing and character worship also apply here.


Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old June 14th, 2012, 8:13 am
ccollinsmith's Avatar
ccollinsmith  Female.gif ccollinsmith is offline
Nitwit! Blubber! Oddment! Tweak!
 
Joined: 3756 days
Location: The Village
Posts: 2,273
Re: The White Stag and Doe

Okay, let's try this again... now that I'm not sick and am therefore more capable of teasing out my ideas sufficiently.

CONTEXT: I have been reading Celtic mythology lately and just have an interest in exploring this topic and in examining the interpretive paradigm established by the original poster. So my comments below should be taken as referring to the paradigm itself and not to any of the characters associated with the paradigm. Perhaps after exploring the paradigm it will be possible to go back to the characters and see if the paradigm fits. But my personal interest at the moment is with exploring the actual paradigm. Fair enough?

So, with that in mind, here's the first point that I'd like to mention:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Eliza
I think the image is certainly that of a White Stag as all Patronuses are refered to as silvery.
Silver, though, is a different color than white. In fact, if you look at the RGB (red-green-blue) color values, the code for silver is #C0C0C0 (Red = 192 Green = 192 Blue = 192) while the code for white is #FFFFFF (Red = 255 Green = 255 Blue = 255). They both have equal values across the spectrum, but there is approximately 25% more black color values in silver than there are in white (which has no black color values). So I personally don't think silver should be interpreted as white. Also, we could say that if the deer patroni are "white," then all patroni are "white" - including Umbridge's cat. Anyway, as FurryDice seems to indicate, we don't know if James Potter's animagus took the form of a white stag. And the animagus, I think, would be the most concrete indicator that we are dealing with a specifically white stag.

But let's say for the sake of argument that we are talking about a specifically white stag…

Just based on some of the mythology I've read, it seems that the interpretation of the white stag found in the original post is a somewhat later development. The more ancient uses of the white stag seem a bit more problematic.

Cernunnos has been mentioned in a couple of posts, but the Horned God has some distinctly "dark" interpretations. (Again, I'm not referring to James Potter - or Harry Potter - here. I'm referring only to the mythology itself). Cernunnos is an admittedly murky figure, and we know very little about how he was actually worshipped. But a common modern interpretation (based largely on the imagery found on the Gundestrup cauldron) associates the Horned God with sacrificial rites. Medieval interpretations often associate the Horned God with the devil, and it does seem that Cernunnos' stag horns form the basis for the horned devil imagery that finds its way into Medieval iconography. Of course, Cernunnos' stag horns do not necessarily come from a specifically white stag.

Cernunnos was worshipped, most likely, during pre-literate times. But in the mythology recorded later (presumably by Briton monks), we still find a somewhat equivocal - rather than an exalted - presentation of the white stag.

By the time we get to C.S. Lewis, the stag hunt has been idealized and rendered bloodless. The motivation for the hunt is to catch the white stag so that it will grant a wish. (BTW, I'm not criticizing Lewis. I read Lewis voraciously, and Narnia is one of my favorite series of books).

But the first white stag hunt of the Mabinogion - the Welsh cycle of myths - is not nearly so idealized... and does not turn out well at all for the stag. In the opening of the First Branch of the Mabinogi, Pwyll (prince of Dyfed) comes across a pack of hounds feasting on a white stag that the hounds have brought down. Pwyll drives them away so that he can feed his own pack of hounds on the stag. Arawn, the Otherworld king whose hounds were driven off, considers Pwyll's actions a great injury to himself (point of comparison: in the high Medieval period, these actions would be considered a breach of chivalry)... and Pwyll must make it right by entering the Otherworld, ruling Arawn's kingdom for a year and a day, and battling Arawn's foe. In this instance, the white stag does seem to be a messenger from the Otherworld, and the appearance of the stag does end well for Pwyll - solidifying his friendship with Arawn - but it involves the sacrifice of the white stag.

Similarly, the first Arthurian story from Chretien de Troyes - Erec et Ened - begins with a hunt for the white stag. In this story, successfully hunting the white stag carries a reward (as it does in Lewis): the successful hunter gets to kiss the most beautiful woman in the Arthurian court. But as in the First Branch of the Mabinogi, it involves the sacrifice (i.e. the violent death) of the white stag. Additionally, the reward itself is a bit like the Apple of Discord that Eris tosses in to the Olympian Court. In both cases, there's a lot of contention about who the most beautiful woman in the court is. Now, this is from the French cycle, but it is taking as its subject matter the court of a Briton king, and the French cycle has strong associations with Brittany. (The Bretons, of course, were descended from British Celts).

Anyway, here are the salient points concerning the white stag based on the myths mentioned above: The white stag often has associations with and/or serves as a messenger for the Otherworld, but the white stag is often sacrificed during the course of carrying out its purpose. In addition, the white stag is sometimes a driver of contention.

This seems a more complex view of the white stag than the one presented in the original post. Now, how all this applies to any of the characters who have deer patroni… I don't know.

BTW, the heraldic use of the white stag for Richard II is an interesting development. Richard II, so far as I know, did not have a drop of British Celtic blood (though it's possible he had some ancient Gaulish blood... but that's a different beast). So this would tend to indicate the extent to which the dominant Norman culture (which was standing on top of the previously dominant Anglo-Saxon culture, which itself was standing on top of the previously dominant Romano-Briton culture) attempted to assimilate elements of the culture of the British Celts, while idealizing the Celtic material. (And idealization of a conquered people's culture is always one possible outcome of colonization).

It would be interesting to trace the development of the Scottish version of the white stag that the original post mentions, but that version would probably have more in common with Irish sources than with British sources (are there Irish sources for this myth?), unless the Scottish version is coming from the parts of Scotland that were dominated by Britons rather than by Scotti (Irish) or Picti... or unless the Scottish mythology goes back to a proto-Celtic society pre-dating such distinctions.


__________________



Hogsmeade Awards 2013: Voted #1 - Biggest Cat Lover | Voted #2 - Most Creative Member |
Voted #2 - Most Likely to Make a Doctor Who Reference


VIVA LA GLITTELUTION!

Last edited by ccollinsmith; June 14th, 2012 at 10:48 pm. Reason: readability
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old June 15th, 2012, 11:35 pm
joebthegreat  Male.gif joebthegreat is offline
First Year
 
Joined: 2853 days
Location: Utah
Age: 29
Posts: 21
Re: The White Stag and Doe

Quote:
Originally Posted by ccollinsmith View Post
Silver, though, is a different color than white. In fact, if you look at the RGB (red-green-blue) color values, the code for silver is #C0C0C0 (Red = 192 Green = 192 Blue = 192) while the code for white is #FFFFFF (Red = 255 Green = 255 Blue = 255). They both have equal values across the spectrum, but there is approximately 25% more black color values in silver than there are in white (which has no black color values). So I personally don't think silver should be interpreted as white.
One minor point of contention. It is common to refer to "off-white" colors as white. An albino animal is still not going to be pure white.

C0C0C0 is close to white, and I was always under the impression that it was a "silvery" white, instead of the pure color silver. So it might be more correct to use the code D8D8D8.

Now, when you view that color against a white background, you wouldn't call it white. When you view that color in a dark setting, and the thing is actually producing its own light, I think most people would consider it white.

And yes, we would then have to consider all patroni to be "white", so they would all have the same "purity" connotation to them. They're patroni, they're supposed to have that bright pure inherent goodness to them. I would agree that it doesn't actually say anything about the nature of the person casting the patronus.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ccollinsmith View Post
This seems a more complex view of the white stag than the one presented in the original post. Now, how all this applies to any of the characters who have deer patroni… I don't know.
Well, James was sacrificed to bring Harry into this world. Lily was sacrificed to offer him the protection of love. Snape was sacrificed to give Harry the final information about what he must do. Harry was sacrificed (in spirit) to defeat Voldemort.

So, yeah, all the white deer were sacrificed for their purpose.


__________________
"When you're calling someone a fruit, you're calling them tasty."

"First be good, then be great."
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Old June 16th, 2012, 5:31 am
ccollinsmith's Avatar
ccollinsmith  Female.gif ccollinsmith is offline
Nitwit! Blubber! Oddment! Tweak!
 
Joined: 3756 days
Location: The Village
Posts: 2,273
Re: The White Stag and Doe

Quote:
Originally Posted by joebthegreat View Post
One minor point of contention. It is common to refer to "off-white" colors as white. An albino animal is still not going to be pure white.

C0C0C0 is close to white, and I was always under the impression that it was a "silvery" white, instead of the pure color silver. So it might be more correct to use the code D8D8D8.
Well, D8D8D8 is fine. My point being that a patonus is not exactly white. (And D8D8D8 is still about 15% black). Whether the patronus is pure silver or not, it's got a silvery tint to its hue. An albino animal may be slightly off-white, but would it have a silvery tint?

Quote:
Originally Posted by joebthegreat View Post
Now, when you view that color against a white background, you wouldn't call it white. When you view that color in a dark setting, and the thing is actually producing its own light, I think most people would consider it white.
Well, as you say, it's not a major point. But I do think the fact that silver is mentioned indicates that the perceiver sees the silver in it.

However, I think the more salient point is that there's not enough variety in the color of patroni to compare a patronus with an albino animal. I don't imagine that we are supposed to assume that Hermione is conjuring an albino otter or that Mr. Weasley is conjuring an albino weasel or that Kingsley Shacklebolt is conjuring an albino lynx. So if the analogy holds, then I don't see why we should assume that any of the characters who cast deer patroni are conjuring albino deer.

So, the real question for me is whether or not James Potter's animagus was a white stag. I don't believe we currently know the answer to that question... though it's possible that Pottermore might give us more animagus (and more Marauder) information with PoA.

But back to the implications of the white stag interpretation...

Quote:
Originally Posted by joebthegreat View Post
Well, James was sacrificed to bring Harry into this world. Lily was sacrificed to offer him the protection of love. Snape was sacrificed to give Harry the final information about what he must do. Harry was sacrificed (in spirit) to defeat Voldemort.

So, yeah, all the white deer were sacrificed for their purpose.
Yes, I was thinking along the same lines actually. For me the interesting point is that the deer patroni characters are not passively sacrificed. They each make a decision to willingly lay down their lives.

A quibble though: James was not sacrificed to bring Harry into the world. He willingly sacrificed himself to give Lily and Harry time. True, he was a dead man regardless of his actions, but he ran directly at Voldemort... just as Lily refused to step aside... just as Snape occluded his mind and protected the mission even as Voldemort killed him. As for Harry... his intention was to die when he met with Voldemort, so I definitely think his own sacrifice counts.

Anyway, the sacrificial element was definitely on my mind as I pulled together the various bits of mythical evidence concerning the white stag.

Quote:
Originally Posted by eliza101 View Post
We can see this with James Potter. He is in many ways the entry to a faerie land for Lily. He is her heart’s true mate.
In the mythology I've read of the British Celts, the Otherworld ("land of faerie") is more of a mystical and magical realm - and a pretty dangerous one at that. It does not seem to be focused on human love.

The HP universe equivalent to the Otherworld is, in my opinion, the Wizarding World itself. Lily officially enters the Wizarding World/"Otherworld" on the day that the Hogwarts representative visits her family.

Quote:
Originally Posted by eliza101 View Post
We see in the novels that it is possible for Patronuses to change Tonks’ and Snape’s Patronuses change but they were not the originals.
We see in the novels that Tonks' patronus changed. The novels give us the "what" and the "why" of Snape's patronus - but not its history.


__________________



Hogsmeade Awards 2013: Voted #1 - Biggest Cat Lover | Voted #2 - Most Creative Member |
Voted #2 - Most Likely to Make a Doctor Who Reference


VIVA LA GLITTELUTION!
Reply With Quote
  #11  
Old June 16th, 2012, 8:36 am
joebthegreat  Male.gif joebthegreat is offline
First Year
 
Joined: 2853 days
Location: Utah
Age: 29
Posts: 21
Re: The White Stag and Doe

Quote:
Originally Posted by ccollinsmith View Post
I don't imagine that we are supposed to assume that Hermione is conjuring an albino otter or that Mr. Weasley is conjuring an albino weasel or that Kingsley Shacklebolt is conjuring an albino lynx. So if the analogy holds, then I don't see why we should assume that any of the characters who cast deer patroni are conjuring albino deer.
Hey, why not? You skipped what I thought was my most compelling argument. All patroni are white (or white enough, dang it!). They all have the connotation of "white" creatures, with all that purity and otherworldly silliness. So the deer are also white, and carry the connotation of "white stag" and "white doe". But just as importantly, the creation of a patronus itself is meaningful.

So I'm going to go do some research on the Celtic symbolism behind albino otters and get back to you on the depths of Hermione's soul.


__________________
"When you're calling someone a fruit, you're calling them tasty."

"First be good, then be great."
Reply With Quote
  #12  
Old June 16th, 2012, 5:19 pm
ccollinsmith's Avatar
ccollinsmith  Female.gif ccollinsmith is offline
Nitwit! Blubber! Oddment! Tweak!
 
Joined: 3756 days
Location: The Village
Posts: 2,273
Re: The White Stag and Doe

Quote:
Originally Posted by joebthegreat View Post
Hey, why not? You skipped what I thought was my most compelling argument. All patroni are white (or white enough, dang it!). They all have the connotation of "white" creatures, with all that purity and otherworldly silliness. So the deer are also white, and carry the connotation of "white stag" and "white doe". But just as importantly, the creation of a patronus itself is meaningful.

So I'm going to go do some research on the Celtic symbolism behind albino otters and get back to you on the depths of Hermione's soul.
Well, I didn't consider it a major point. I'm just being picky with the details. Obviously, I'm fine with a "white stag" interpretation, given that I devoted about 3/4 of a very lengthy post to it. And I think it would be cool to find that JKR is drawing on Celtic myth.

I'd like to go more thoroughly through Dags' post, though, and take a look at the white stag in world mythology and see what I find.


__________________



Hogsmeade Awards 2013: Voted #1 - Biggest Cat Lover | Voted #2 - Most Creative Member |
Voted #2 - Most Likely to Make a Doctor Who Reference


VIVA LA GLITTELUTION!
Reply With Quote
Reply
Go Back  Chamber of Secrets > Harry Potter > The Cloak > The Pensieve

Bookmarks


Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
 
Thread Tools

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off


All times are GMT +1. The time now is 9:09 am.


Powered by: vBulletin, Copyright ©2000 - 2020, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
Original content is Copyright © MMII - MMVIII, CoSForums.com. All Rights Reserved.
Other content (posts, images, etc) is Copyright © its respective owners.