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doe / deer

doe / deer

The origins of the deer image on a coat of arms goes back many generations and probably comes from a family who claimed a beloved family member since the charge is of the canting arms type, meaning a "dear" person. Heraldic writers say the deer represents peace and harmony and one who will not fight unless provoked. It is important to note that a deer can also be called a stag, buck, hind, or brocket and the female of the species is called a doe. Stag's heads and antlers also can appear as charges, but mainly it is the head that appears on the more ancient coat of arms. The deer has been linked to the Tree of Life because of the resemblance of the antlers to branches and because of the shedding and renewal of these horns. During the Middle Ages the stag was often shown with a crucifix between the horns representing Christianity. The Chinese regard this charge as a symbol of virility and happiness and spend a lot of money on the powder of specific antler horns.


Does are gentle, timid animals, content to graze quietly in dappled meadows. Native peoples of the Americas associate the doe with peace and with the earth. Along with gentleness, the doe is also a symbol of innocence and compassion.


As the protector of women, the Roman goddess Diana is frequently depicted with a doe by her side. Deer Woman is a Native American figure who served as a guide for young women especially in the context of courtship, marriage, and fertility.


The doe is sacred to Diana, the Roman goddess of hunting. In stories, poems, and myths, the deer often appears in the context of the hunt, as in the case of the medieval poem Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and the story of Bambi.