3 Distinctive Magical Creatures
The Magical Unicorn
The Unicorn is a legendary creature. Strong, wild and fierce, it was impossible to tame by man. This mythical creature from European folklore resembles a white horse with a large pointed, spiraling horn projecting from its forehead.
First mentioned by the Ancient Greeks, the Unicorn became the most important imaginary creature of the Middle Ages and Renaissance when it was commonly described as an extremely wild woodland creature, a symbol of purity and grace, which could only be captured by a virgin.
The legend goes that the Unicorn, filled with intemperance and an inability to control itself, forgets its ferocity and wildness for the love it bears to fair maidens. Laying aside all fear, it will go up to a seated damsel and go to sleep in her lap, thus allowing the hunters to take it.
In Medieval lore, the spiraled horn of the Unicorn was called the alicorn, and was thought to neutralize poisons. In popular mythology, Unicorns were hunted for their horns, which were said to protect one against diseases, or if made into a cup, would offer protection from any poison that might have been added to one’s drink. During this time, people sold what they claimed to be Unicorn horns, but were actually selling the horn-like tusks of narwalls, a type of whale.
A widespread legend is that when Noah gathered two of every kind of animal, he neglected to gather the Unicorns, which is why they don’t exist today.
The Magical Griffin
The Griffin or Gryphon is a legendary creature with the body of a lion and the head and wings of an eagle. As the lion was traditionally considered to be the king of the beasts and the eagle was the king of the birds, the Griffin was thought to be an especially powerful and majestic creature. Griffins are known for guarding treasure and priceless possessions.
While Griffins are most common in the art and lore of Ancient Greece, there is also evidence of representations of Griffins in Ancient Egyptian art as far back as 3,300BC. Most statues have bird-like talons, although in some older illustrations Griffins have a lion’s forelimbs. They generally have a lion’s hindquarters. Its eagle’s head is conventionally given prominent ears.
Griffins not only mated for life according to legend, but also, if either partner died, the other would continue throughout the rest of its life alone, never to search for a new mate. The Griffin was thus made an emblem of the church’s views on remarriage.
A Griffin’s claws were believed to have medicinal properties and one of its feathers could restore sight to the blind. Goblets supposedly fashioned from Griffin claws were actually made from antelope horns. And griffin eggs (actually ostrich eggs) were highly prized in Medieval European courts.
Griffins were thought to be the pets of the Gods. It’s been said that the Gods wanted a true, pure creature that would defend to the death, but not cause problems otherwise. The Griffin can control both land and the air in its form.
Throughout time and cultures the Griffin appeared on many coats of arms because of it’s being the symbol of great strength and power, not to mention its ties with royalty, being the King of all creatures. Even today, the Griffin is the symbol of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the logo of United Paper Mills, Vauxhall Motors, and of Scania and its former group partners, SAAB-aircraft and Saab Automobile. It’s also on the crest of Trinity College, Oxford, the official seal of Purdue University as well as the mascot of the College of William and Mary in Virginia.
The Magical Pegasus
Pegasus is one of the best-known mythological creatures in Greek mythology. He is a winged divine horse, usually depicted as white in color. He was sired by Poseidon, in his role as horse-god and foaled by the Gorgon Medusa.
He ascended to heaven after his birth and was obedient to Zeus, king of the gods. It was Zeus who instructed Pegasus to bring lightening and thunder from Olympus. It was also Zeus who transformed him into the constellation Pegasus and placed him in the sky.
According to legend, everywhere the winged horse struck his hoof to earth, an inspiring spring burst forth. Friend of the Muses, Pegasus is the creator of Hippocrene, the fountain on Mt. Helicon, the Muses’ mount. He was captured by the Greek hero, Bellerophon, with the help of Athena and Poseidon. Pegasus allows the hero to ride him to defeat a monster, the Chimera, before realizing many other exploits.
The symbolism of Pegasus varies with time. Symbol of wisdom and especially fame from the Middle Ages until the Renaissance, he became one symbol of the poetry and the creator of sources in which the poets come to draw inspiration, particularly in the 19th century.
His iconic form figures prominently in ancient Greek pottery and paintings and sculptures of the Renaissance. In the 20th and 21st century Pegasus appears in movies, in fantasy, in video games and in role play.