This story begins at twilight on the cobbled streets of Hexham Christmas Eve 2018. A crescent moon hung above the Abbey which was draped in silver fairy lights as I, along with the last of the Christmas shoppers made my way amongst the low hum of anticipation. Everything was perfect. Well at least I thought it was, I had forgotten a Christmas card for my partner. Luckily Gaia was still open and I was able to choose one with a white stag framed between two tree branches, inside I scribbled a poem about connecting to that which is sacred and signed it with love. That evening as we swapped gifts, he presented me with a gold plated pen made of holly wood “I think there is something important you need to write with that,” he smiled.
“The pain that you’ve been feeling, can’t compare to the joy that’s coming.” Romans 8:18
I’ve always admired the way in life how something so small and seemingly insignificant can in time become oh so big. Only six weeks later whilst out walking in the woods a synchronous sequence of events began to unfold that would change my entire life. A white stag stood before us, luminous and brazen. Not only had the card come to life but we even photographed his image framed in exactly the same way, between two tree branches. He was straight out of Disney! We likened it to seeing a ghost, as he had the uncanny knack of being able to disappear amongst the silver birch with the swiftest of movements. He was quite the extroverted and playful little fella. “It’s like the wildlife equivalent of watching Freddie Mercury at Live Aid in 1985,” I proclaimed filling up with tears. The time spent with him on those cold wintery days was life affirming, and also deeply healing.
After seeking advice we identified him as a roebuck, and with only six white wild roebucks sighted in the British Isles since the end of the 1940s had a deep reverence for his appearance in our lives. He felt like the culmination of all my prayers, a miracle made manifest to wipe the slates clean. We knew it was a great privilege to not only glimpse such a rare and elusive creature but to gain his trust and capture his essence on film. People have since asked us, often upon seeing his image if he was an albino? Ghost has leucism a very rare genetic mutation which results in the loss of pigmentation in an animal. I find his very existence in the wild to be quite symbolic and especially poignant at this point in our worlds natural history, nature can and will survive even if seems against all odds.
“Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war.” Revelations 19:11
Due to their rare and elusive nature white stags are steeped in myth and legend. Their appearance often foretells of a great spiritual change. To the Celts, the white stag was an otherworldly creature who could transition between realms, in Arthurian legend its mystical power was often a sign to Arthur and his knights to embark upon a quest. To early Christians it was interchangeable with the unicorn and Christ. I figured, due its significant nature I best seek the wise counsel of my two godchildren (both of whom are under the age of 5).
“We MUST tell Santa,” they exclaimed and so began the creation of ‘Ghost the Christmas Stag.’ The story arrived fully formed as if it was sent straight from heaven. All I had to do was pick the pen gifted to me on Christmas Eve and let it out!
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” Mathew 5:8
Art moves through us all and we are but vessels for its articulation. Luckily, art also moves through Instagram and I was lucky enough to have befriended a very talented one through a chance meeting earlier that year. On the same day we found Ghost Kathryn Holeman posted a Harry Potter themed illustration featuring the white hart Patronus. Another wonderful synchronicity! She became a natural choice to illuminate the story and I have no doubt the reason I have found publication.
‘Ghost the Christmas Stag’ begins with a magic many understand but quickly reaches into the power of nature and our duty to protect the wildlife that share this beautiful earth with us. The story is told in rhythm and rhyme through the eyes of a young boy ‘Hector the Forest Protector,’ and serves as a reminder for children and adults alike to honour and protect that which is sacred in all beings and creatures.
“In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” Proverbs 3:6
‘Ghost the Christmas Stag’ will be available to buy early in December. A portion of the proceeds will be donated towards the ReWilding of areas in the North of England & Scottish Highlands.