A White Deer in Middle Earth

Magical animals, especially white ones, play an important role in various legends and myths. Their presence in these stories is no accident.

Very often a white deer “signifies a spiritual quest, where new insight and knowledge can be gained, and the deer becomes a foreboder of great change to follow.”

Bilbo Baggins, in The Hobbit (J.R.R. Tolkien) meets just such an animal while traveling with his Dwarf companions in the dark and dangerous forest of Mirkwood.

“Suddenly on the path ahead appeared (a) snowy white deer” gleaming in the darkness.  Even though the Dwarves are impelled to shoot their arrows at the deer… “(none) seemed to find their mark. The deer turned and vanished in the trees as silently as (it) had come.”

Bilbo and his friends are subsequently attacked by giant spiders.  They barely escape, only to be captured by Wood Elves.  Their way and their cause all seem lost, but the trials and tribulations are in fact a spiritual quest unfolding. Hearts and destinies are being shaped.

Bilbo undergoes the most dramatic changes of all:  He “felt a different person…much fiercer and bolder.” By facing challenges—fighting off giant spiders and helping his friends escape the Elves—Bilbo gains wisdom, courage, and respect.

From “a quiet Hobbit overfond of his Hobbit hole,” Bilbo becomes a true adventurer, ready to fulfill his destiny to reclaim the Dwarf homeland of Erebor…just like the white deer foreshadowed.

(Quotes in this article are from Middle Earth Reflections, Spotting the White Deer.)