Three ‘discoveries’ in 1980, 1981 and 1985, respectively, helped lay the foundation for the journey of a lifetime, as well as a script for an epic film.
The first occurred while tidying and cleaning-out ‘under the wooden stage’ in my Church Hall at Pennal, a small village in the foothills of the southern Snowdonia mountain range, in Wales. Yes. I was once a Country Parson! It was here that I discovered two 500 years old wooden St Hubert carvings, one depicting a stag and the other a hunting dog.
My introduction to the legend of St Hubert (Eustace) and the Pagan-Christian symbol of a Crucifix rooted between the antlers of a Stag, were very down to earth ones! (A string of ‘stag’ co-incidences were to follow over many years, but that story is for another time).
The second, was the discovery of old stag antlers, again while tidying and ‘cleaning out’, this time an old 1760’s bread oven in the garage of our Parsonage House.
Finally, it was on Samhain or All Hallowed Eve, in 1985 that I came across a second hand copy of Emma Jung’s ‘The Grail Legend’. This was my first encounter with the “cervus fugitivus” or the fugitive stag – an alchemical symbol – that continues to fascinate me to this
But the catalyst for what would become the epic story of ‘The Fugitive Stag’ was the theft of our much loved ‘stag carvings’ from my church in 1988. I was devastated. Wounded in a way that took me years to come to terms with.
The Spanish mystic St John of the Cross and his hymn to the ‘Wounded Stag’, with its theme of ‘intimacy and ‘loss’, best embodies the beginning of that quest:
Where did you hide yourself,
Beloved, and leave me crying?
Like a stag you fled
Once having struck me;
I ran after, calling but You were gone …