The transition between the worlds is often heralded by a luminous messenger.
This is a place of overlap, neither this nor that. It is time outside of time, like Saturnalia, where normal rules do not apply.
A door lies half open and the herald announces that something has changed.
White rabbit, white stag or whichever magical beast; It is the other world made manifest in this one and it asks the question of the traveller; A question in purely symbolic form:
“Will you pursue me or turn away, heading back to the world you know?
The traveller always has a choice. But once the pursuit is joined, the route of return becomes sealed.
There is sense of sadness, for we realise the old familiar world is drawing to an end.
The magical animal seems predominantly a white albino; Like Castaneda’s white falcon, Don Juan’s deer, Alice’s white rabbit and the white stag the kings and queens of Narnia are chasing, before they re-encounter the lamp post; That nagging intrusion from their ‘mother world.’
The reinjection of ‘Gandalf’ into the little world of ‘middle earth’ after ‘darkness took him and he strayed out of thought and time’, also seems to have ties with this. He returns luminous, with the mantle of the other world about him; His earlier middle earth incarnation does not immediately spring to his mind.
Gandalf, the old man repeated, as if recalling from old memory a long disused word. ‘Yes, that was the name. I was Gandalf.
He announces that he is sent back — for a brief time; Only until his task is done.
Don Juan discusses magical animals with Castaneda:
“What do you think makes them so difficult to find and so unique?” he asked.
I shrugged my shoulders because I did not know what to say.
“They have no routines,” he said in a tone of revelation. “That’s what makes them magical.”
“A deer has to sleep at night,” I said. “Isn’t that a routine?”
“Certainly, if the deer sleeps every night at a specific time and in one specific place. But those magical beings do not behave like that. In fact, someday you may verify this for yourself. Perhaps it’ll be your fate to chase one of them for the rest of your life.”
“What do you mean by that?”
“You like hunting: Perhaps someday, in some place in the world, your path may cross the path of a magical being and you might go after it.
“A magical being is a sight to behold. I was fortunate enough to cross paths with one. Our encounter took place after I had learned and practised a great deal of hunting.
“Once, I was in a forest of thick trees in the mountains of central Mexico when suddenly I heard a sweet whistle. It was unknown to me. Never in all my years of roaming in the wilderness had I heard such a sound. I could not place it in the terrain. It seemed to come from different places. I thought that perhaps I was surrounded by a herd or a pack of some unknown animals.
“I heard the tantalizing whistle once more. It seemed to come from everywhere. I realized then my good fortune. I knew it was a magical being; a deer. I also knew that a magical deer is aware of the routines of ordinary men and the routines of hunters.
“It is very easy to figure out what an average man would do in a situation like that. First of all his fear would immediately turn him into a prey. Once he becomes a prey, he has two courses of action left. He either flees or he makes his stand. If he is not armed he would ordinarily flee into the open field to run for his life. If he is armed, he could get his weapon ready, and would then make his stand either by freezing on the spot, or by dropping to the ground.
“A hunter, on the other hand, when he stalks in the wilderness would never walk into any place without figuring out his points of protection. Therefore, he would immediately take cover. He might drop his poncho on the ground, or he might hang it from a branch as a decoy; and then he would hide and wait until the game makes its next move.
“So, in the presence of the magical deer, I didn’t behave like either. I quickly stood on my head, and began to wail softly. I actually wept tears and sobbed for such a long time that I was about to faint.
“Suddenly I felt a soft breeze. Something was sniffing my hair behind my right ear. I tried to turn my head to see what it was and tumbled down. I sat up and saw a radiant creature staring at me. The deer looked at me, and I told him I would not harm him. Then the deer talked to me.”
Don Juan stopped and looked at me. I smiled involuntarily. The idea of a talking deer was quite incredible, to put it mildly.
“He talked to me,” don Juan said with a grin.
“The deer talked?”
Don Juan stood, and picked up his bundle of hunting paraphernalia.
“Did it really talk?” I asked in a tone of perplexity.
Don Juan roared with laughter.
“What did it say?” I asked half in jest.
I thought he was pulling my leg. Don Juan was quiet for a moment as if he were trying to remember. Then his eyes brightened as he told me what the deer had said.
“The magical deer said, ‘Hello friend,’” don Juan went on. “And I answered, ‘Hello.’ Then he asked me, ‘Why are you crying?’ and I said, ‘Because I’m sad.’ Then the magical creature came to my ear and said as clearly as I am speaking now, ‘Don’t be sad.’”
Don Juan stared into my eyes. He had a glint of sheer mischievousness. He began to laugh uproariously.
I said that his dialogue with the deer had been sort of dumb.
“What did you expect?” he asked, still laughing. “I’m an Indian.”
His sense of humour was so outlandish that all I could do was laugh with him.
“You don’t believe that a magical deer talks, do you?”
“I’m sorry but I just can’t believe things like that can happen,” I said.
“I don’t blame you,” he said reassuringly. “It’s one of the darndest things.”
I love the score for this 70’s animation. It’s by Michael J Lewis and won him an ‘Emmy’. There seems to be a longing and sadness here that gets me every time.