The White Deer

White Deer















It is impossible for me not to experience magic, mystery and immense sense of wonder when I look at this photograph. I took it one misty afternoon a couple of years ago from my window in Chapel Hill, one of dozens of photos of this deer taken while it graced our home over the course of two years.  The white deer's visits, while frequent, never seemed commonplace- perhaps because he was not ordinary. His appearance, first with his brown spotted twin and mother doe, then on his own, always caused a ripple of excitement to run through the house, a dash for a camera, and reverent hushed voices. He may as well have been a unicorn. Perhaps he really was.

There are many stories from diverse cultures that mention the appearance of white animals. The Celtic people considered them to be messengers from the otherworld. In the King Arthur legends, the white stag, always pursued, but never captured, represents mankind’s quest for spiritual knowledge, in that case the search for the Holy Grail. Native American lore suggests that white animals are a sign of prophecy, a message from the Great Spirit to be discussed among the tribal elders. The deer, its spreading antlers like a sunrise, represents both the sun and Great Spirit, a sense of renewal.

If I had known nothing of these stories, its appearance in my life would still have been deeply moving. For the white deer evoked in me the world of imagination, spirit, and a reminder of that which is not easily seen in our everyday world.

One winter afternoon, I stood in my kitchen and shook a bottle of vitamins vigorously to loosen them. Its sound reminded me of that of a shaman’s rattle, calling forth spirit. At that moment the white deer appeared in the yard. Shortly afterward, a large red hawk flew by  the room where I meditate -a light filled space with many windows surrounded by trees. It landed on a low branch and when
I stood to get a closer look, I saw that the deer was also now outside that room. He finally lay down in the dry winter leaves facing me, staring, as if waiting for me. I stood a moment watching , and felt called to meditate. I sat facing the deer and went into a beautiful state full of imagery of the deer and hawk. I felt a deep heart connection with the animals, a sense of peace and love. When I opened my eyes, both had gone.

Remembering the dreamlike quality of that winter scene, I am reminded about the coming Solstice. How many of this season’s spiritual traditions-Christian, Jewish, pagan, are rooted in the introspection and contemplation of the darkness and the hope of the return of light. It seems especially incongruous that a season that so naturally calls ourselves inward instead finds most of us on a literal marathon of activity and extroversion. Pay attention. It is not only counterproductive and out of sync with the natural world and our soul’s calling, but also a potentially missed opportunity to appreciate the real meaning of this season.

For me the white deer’s presence was a profound call to remember that without magic, without opening our heart to wonder, the world is a far darker place. The compelling presence of this creature makes it easy for us to lose ourselves in the world of fantasy and magic. We project our deepest longings and drink the elixir of joy and hope.  Part of our brain says not to make too much of this, to put away such childish thoughts and dreams.  The immersion of our self into the pure light of its presence gives us a sense of immense well being, joy. And yet perhaps it is our greatest human failing to so live in a world of mind and rationalism that we cannot comprehend or experience this other world. There is danger in thinking we can know all things, that what we know with our minds is the only reality. It is even arrogant. It is a way of being that shrinks our world.  When we cannot embrace the inexplicable and unseen, our world, our spirits are diminished. It is the closed mind that fails to recognize the essential worth of an ancient stand of trees or the delicate balance of the eco system that exists, sight unseen , beneath the sea. It is the closed heart that fails to see hope in despair, gratitude in the midst of deprivation, the soul that resides within each of us.

I have not seen the white deer in two years. But in this season of long darkness, the stillness of a winter earth, and the hope for the return of light, I have no doubt that sight unseen, he is still there.

White fawn


  1.  Cindy Doty's avatar
    Cindy Doty
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    The white deer has made several appearances in our neighborhood this winter. My daughter has seen him on many occassions as she is quite connected.
    thanks for sharing you story.
  2. Kay Goldstein's avatar
    Kay Goldstein
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    Thanks for letting me know. He may be the same one or another that has frequented the area north of Chapel Hill. Always magical..
  3. M. Smith's avatar
    M. Smith
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    Dear Kay,

    I am working on a website to help protect a small population of white and albino deer in Southern Wisconsin.

    I have quoted your "white deer" essay on one of my pages. You are given full credit, plus I added a link to your website.

    Can I also use the large photo of the albino deer on the page?

    Thank you for your attention.

    M. Smith
  4. Scott Reavis's avatar
    Scott Reavis
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    A white deer showed up in my backyard yesterday and I found your website after deciding to research white deer. I live in Parkwood in southern Durham, NC, so I'm not far from Chapel Hill. I really like what you wrote. It captures the magical and spiritual feeling I had when I spotted him in the yard. If you want pics I can send a couple to you.
  5. Meghan E. Doty's avatar
    Meghan E. Doty
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    When my eldest niece was 5-6yrs old, she had a white doe approach her while outside their RV on a family camping trip! While OUTSIDE! She is a very psychically gifted child, I took it to be a gift from The Fae, as she has been able to see Faeries ever since age three, when I told her how to look, where to look, and how to identify them. She is quite a remarkable child!
  6. Susanne's avatar
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    1/22/2015: Saw a beautiful white doe and her 2 young ones here in Chapel Hill. I live off of Old Greensboro Road near White Cross. So magical and amazing. Looked up the symbolism and feel excited and blessed!
  7. Janet T's avatar
    Janet T
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    I had the honor of waking up on my birthday last month to a white fawn outside the window, first and only time I've seen her. We're in northern CA. I had heard of her, but what a thrill! She was with a family, so I hope well-protected. I share your appreciation.
  8. Cheryl G.'s avatar
    Cheryl G.
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    October 24th, 2016 around 6pm. I saw a white deer for the first time in my life, eating from a bush in my backyard. It had a few dark spots on its upper neck area and it just stood there eating then walked away in the woods. I live off Dearborn drive in Durham, NC.
  9. Nancy D.'s avatar
    Nancy D.
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    I'm sure the white deer my husband and I saw tonight in Central Pennsylvania is not "your" white deer, but it did lead me to you, via the web. Thanks so much for your lovely essay...our sighting, as your's and others' were, was profoundly moving. If, as the Native Americans believe, that it is a sign from the great spirit that a major shift in our world is to come, may we each be up for the task ahead. Thanks again and blessings to you!
  10. Rebecca's avatar
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    I saw a white deer in my wooded yard of Chapel Hill too. It was 2013. That year, I became very sick. Chronic illness. But that deer medicine predicted the spiritual journey my suffering would ignight! I did not take this brief sighting lightly :). Thanks for your insight!
  11. Ellen Anderson's avatar
    Ellen Anderson
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    I too was researching white deer and found your website. I was elated to see a beautiful solo white female deer coming through my side yard from the woods this past early Sunday morning. She was so close to my window. I was given a private special viewing. I managed a few pics through the window, but was shaking from excitement, so they were kinda blurry. I look for her often now. Life/health has been quite a challenge for me lately. I took this deer's visit as a positive sign, one of God's special creatures, letting me know all is truly well.
  12. Michael J Zoosman's avatar
    Michael J Zoosman
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    Thank you for posting this, Ms. Goldstein. I just saw a piebald deer (mostly white) in a highway ride that led to more hawk sightings in one sitting that I’ve ever seen in my life. The ride took place after my first consultation with a medium who conveyed the message that I am prophetic and the sighting of the deer occurred when I was conveying this to my aunt. Oy! Your elucidating and beautiful article and picture were very helpful in my understanding of this experience. May our sightings continue for blessings!
  13. Martha Maclean's avatar
    Martha Maclean
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    On a current visit to our property, we were told by our neighbor there was a white deer on our property. It was not long after we saw this beautiful creature. It truly gave us a warm feeling to know our vacant land is providing a home for such a miraculous animal.
  14. Ashley Motha's avatar
    Ashley Motha
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    I went out on the Jon boat today with my boyfriend on the occoquan reservoir and saw a herd of 5 deer, 2 were white with a few brown spots. I was able to take pictures of them but I don't think there's a place to post them on here
    White deer are so breathtakingly beautiful and have a very spiritual aura that you can feel in your core! Such a beautiful creature well two this trip!! Magical...
  15. Amy Marie Shaver's avatar
    Amy Marie Shaver
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    A completely white deer was spotted In Jasper county, Iowa and photographed 3 days ago. In these times is this a spiritual sign of hope of lighter days to come?
  16. Sharon Shea's avatar
    Sharon Shea
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    On Jan. 12th 2021 in Morrisville, NC in the woods adjacent to my Office off of Davis approx. 5:15pm stood a large completely white deer that appeared to be a doe. Two young brown deer played nearby. It was a sight that made my heart sing!
  17. Kayla's avatar
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    @Sharon Shea, I believe I saw that same deer today, too! It was twilight and I was in the passenger seat of my boyfriend’s car, driving in the area of the Duke Health Urgent Care in Morrisville, and we were talking about the fact that my car had refused to start for some reason earlier in the day, even though it was inspected recently and had gotten a clean ‘bill of health.’ We thought this could be a sign/happened for a reason, because it led me to having a three (!) -hour long phone conversation with my dad that centered around spirituality and meditation and mystical experiences, and how I felt I was becoming more deeply connected to my own spirituality and had been getting more and more signs recently from the universe that change was coming. (For a conversation that started with technical car questions, it took quite an awesome but unexpected turn!)

    As my boyfriend and I were saying this, not two seconds later, in the dim, hazy-blue light of the twilight woods, I saw a very large, pure-white doe that almost seemed to glow in the gloom. I swear her head was turned toward the road, and our car, as we drove by. I absolutely couldn’t believe it; I was beside myself with excitement. My boyfriend didn’t catch a glimpse of her, unfortunately, and the whole experience had a very powerful, mystical feel to it.

    And then, just to add to the insane synchronicity of it all, a few moments later, we turned down a street that was called “Transformation Road.” After looking up the deeper spiritual meaning of white deer, and white does in particular, I am blown away by how intricately these signs align.

    I feel very blessed the doe allowed me a glimpse of her, and I’m sure others feel similarly when they catch sight of such a magnificent creature!

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