The unicorn is a legendary horse like creature with a large, pointed, spiraling horn projecting from its forehead. Its white coloring made it a natural symbol for purity, chastity and virginity. The horn of the unicorn was the weapon of the faithful and of Christ. It was a symbol of chivalry with qualities of being proud and untamable. In heraldry it became a popular symbol around the 15th century and is best known as the symbol of Scotland.
In European folklore, the unicorn is often depicted as a white horse-like or goat-like animal with a long horn and cloven hooves (sometimes a goat’s beard). In the Middle Ages and Renaissance, it was commonly described as an extremely wild woodland creature, a symbol of purity and grace, which could only be captured by a virgin. If the horn was filed down, the dust from the horn was supposed to protect against deadly diseases if mixed into a potion. Or, if you drank from the horn, you would be protected against any poison. In medieval and Renaissance times, the tusk of the narwhal was sometimes sold as unicorn horns.
It was traditionally believed that only a virgin who was naked sitting beneath a tree could catch the delicate unicorn. The unicorn, who craves purity, would be drawn to the girl and lie down with his head in her lap. While it slept, the hunter could capture it. If, however, the girl was merely pretending to be a virgin, the unicorn would tear her apart.
We think of them being mainly of Greek origin but many other countries have their different versions of unicorns and today they are even more popular with the fantasy genre. I actually can’t get enough of them.