We love animals at Peach Perfect - as Jess, our gorgeous Border terrier (and Instagram star), knows all too well! And when choosing our animal inspired Crystal and Spiritual Gifts, we wanted to find out more about their magical and mysterious backgrounds. Here we share some of the fascinating facts we found out about four very different creatures, ranging from the fabulous unicorn to the humble bee.
Iconic symbol of purity and power
The unicorn has galloped throughout history since its earliest appearances in the 4th century BC. Possibly influenced by sightings of rhinos and wild oxen, it was described by Indian travellers as being the size of a large ass, white with a reddish-purple head and multicoloured long horn. The Greeks described unicorns as being real creatures, rather than fantastic beasts!
In medieval times, the unicorn came to symbolise purity and grace, although it was also seen as being a wild and fearless animal that could only be tamed by a virgin. Unicorn horn (usually from a rhino or narwhal) was especially prized by nobles as they believed it would protect them against poisoned drinks.
These days, the unicorn seems to appear everywhere, from sportswear to stationery, from luggage to lighting, from trending Twitter hashtags to positive Pinterest quotes … but did you know that it's also the national animal of Scotland?
This is due to the unicorn's link with longstanding Celtic ideals of chivalry and dominance - and of being almost impossible to conquer! It first appeared on the Scottish royal coat of arms in the 13th century and adorns lots of historic buildings like Edinburgh Castle.
Legendary sea creature and lucky charm
The Greeks often pictured Poisedon, their powerful god of the sea, driving a chariot pulled by strong, fierce seahorses. These exotic half horse, half fish creatures also appeared in many mosaics created by the Romans (dedicated to their equivalent - and equally terrifying - god, Neptune, who was also the god of horses).
In ancient China, the seahorse was revered for its power and its appearance as a magical sea dragon. Traditional Chinese medicine practitioners believed these fish, in powdered form, could cure many conditions, including infertility, baldness, asthma and arthritis. More recent research has indicated they may have biomedical properties that can not only affect arthritis but also the ageing process!
The image of a seahorse is often used as a good luck charm - especially for sailors, as legend had it they would accompany the souls of drowned sailors to keep them safe until reaching the underworld. So patience and perseverance are also qualities associated with these unique underwater creatures.
Some people also see the seahorse as representing romance as it's monogamous and couples up with its partner for life. Very unusually, though, it's the male who carries the babies or "fry" (up to about 2,000 although its pregnancy only lasts for between 10-25 days). We're definitely in favour of that!
Universal messenger of peace and love
Another naturally monogamous creature, the dove also symbolises romance - and a flock of doves would follow the Greek goddess of love, Aphrodite (and her Roman counterpart, Venus). Rather cruelly, because of this association, a dove's heart later became a crucial ingredient in many medieval love potions.
Doves appear throughout history and different cultures as emblems of peace and divinity. In the Bible, the Holy Spirit is often depicted as a white dove and Noah and the inhabitants of the Ark knew dry land was at hand when a dove returned to them with an olive branch in its beak.
As members of the pigeon family, doves are natural navigators and well suited as messengers. Sometimes they can be seen as a warning of danger - traditionally, miners have refused to descend underground if a dove is seen at the pithead.
Picasso designed his famous Dove of Peace illustration for the first International Peace Conference in Paris in 1949 - his daughter Paloma, born at the same time, was also named after the Latin word for dove! He later developed this image into a simpler drawing which would become a universally recognised symbol of peace.
Royal herald of health and wealth
Bees may be small but they're vitally important to life on earth - it's estimated that about one third of the foods we eat relies on bees for its production. And it's no wonder we use the expressions "as busy as a bee" when it's estimated that a single honeybee needs to visit two million flowers to make one pound of honey!
Did you know that Pharoahs in ancient Egypt used bees as a symbol of royalty? Legend had it that bees were created from the tears of Ra, the sun god, and acted as messengers to the spirit world. Some ancient Egyptians believed that a person's soul took flight as a bee after death.
These busy little creatures are often seen as symbols of wisdom and hard work - and bee charms are said to attract wealth and prosperity, too! In folklore, bee stings are used for helping to ease the pain of rheumatism and arthritis, and honey has been used for all sorts of treatments including wound management and fighting infection.
Sadly their populations are declining worldwide and they are an endangered species in the UK. This article by Friends of the Earth has some great practical suggestions on how we can all help to save the bees!
Have you got any interesting stories about animal magic and mystery that you'd like to share with us?
And if you like the crystal animal gifts shown above, why not take a look at our lovely Crystal and Spiritual Gifts Collection? As well as animal designs, you'll find sparkling Angels (large and small), glowing Witch Balls, mesmerising Wind Chimes and much more!
We'd love to hear from you so please leave a comment below or get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.