How to Learn About the Unicorn

"Now I will believe that there are unicorns..." -- William Shakespeare; The Tempest

The unicorn is a mythical creature that is featured in many legends and tales from times of old. Modern day tales also have a tendency to use the unicorn as a symbol of purity and elusiveness. If you need to brush up on your unicorn knowledge, this article will help you get started.


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    Note that while the unicorn is a legendary creature, it has long captured the imaginations of many self-imagined damsels and knights and has been a source of inspiration for authors and illustrators alike. It is possible that a variety of horned beasts from the rhinoceros to the Oryx influenced the myth of the unicorn. One particular favourite is the narwhal, with its long tusk (males only).
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    Become familiar with legends that feature unicorns. Legends from medieval times are an especially good source for unicorn lore. Other legends include the natural historical accounts of the Ancient Greeks, Roman tales and Ancient Chinese tales (although the unicorn in Chinese legend is not the unicorn most people are familiar with). Much of the original tales influence our thinking on unicorns even to this day.
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    Find unicorn artwork to learn about the various depictions of unicorns through the ages. Look online or in art books for the Hunt of the Unicorn tapestries (1495 - 1500). These depict unicorns from medieval times. Another excellent series of unicorns can be found in the Musée National du Moyen Âge in Paris, known as 'La dame et la licorne' (The Lady and the Unicorn). Each of these tapestries carry much symbolism, which you learn more about by researching. Other depictions of unicorns can be found in paintings, book artwork, filet crochet and lacework from the late nineteenth century and in modern cartoons and posters. Look up high on buildings in countries such as England, Wales and France and you will often find statues upon roofs or carvings on walls featuring the unicorn. Buckingham Palace in England is a good example.
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    Compare the modern depictions of the unicorn with the unicorns of times past. Today's unicorns are sleek, beautiful and more strongly horse-like in their presentation. They vary in colour - depicted in many differing colours and even a mixture of glistening golds, silvers and sometimes rainbows.
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    Learn about the qualities of unicorns:
    • Unicorns are white
    • Unicorn eyes are said to be sky blue or purple haze, with matching hooves
    • Unicorn blood is silvery blue.
    • They are horse-like but have certain differences, including the horn. The legs are meant to resemble an antelope and in many depictions has the tail of a lion and the beard of a goat
    • The horn has magical properties - it is said to cure illnesses and neutralize poison - poisonous plants are meant to burst when brought near a horn. Modern interpretations have held that the horn can change colour with the mood of the unicorn
    • Unicorns were depicted as highly intelligent, possibly communicating by telepathy
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    Know some of the myths associated with unicorns:
    • They can only be captured by use of a maiden as a lure; a male unicorn would come and lay its head on the lap of a maiden should be sitting in the forest in which the unicorn dwelt. Note that some of this myth was tied up with the rabid requirement that women be chaste before marriage during the Middle Ages, a fact that influenced this myth to suggest that only the purest of maidens would have such success. Literature seems to have left female unicorns aside; it'd be nice to imagine this was in acceptance that female unicorns had better things to be getting on with but more likely because a chaste male human was not a requirement of the times
    • You should never lose faith in a unicorn or things will bode ill for you
    • Some depictions of the unicorn compared it with the purity of Christ
    • Unicorns barely touch the ground; some even say they merely skim it, so finding the trail of a unicorn is almost impossible
    • Removal of the entire horn kills a unicorn; however, a unicorn in a relationship of trust may choose to offer a portion of its horn to heal a sick individual
    • The blood of a unicorn is considered to be deadly, for the blood of an innocent and pure creature should never be caused to flow
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    Understand the symbolism of unicorns. As with many mythical creatures, unicorns are graced with certain meanings. Common interpretations hold that these values are reflected by a unicorn:
    • Nobility
    • Loyalty
    • Quick to anger at disloyalty
    • Steadfastness
    • Purity
    • Selflessness
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    Choose the unicorn as your talisman or protector if you feel that these values accord with your way of seeing the world.


  • Learning more about unicorns is not only fascinating for what you can find out about the unicorn but it is also a very useful and interesting exercise in the beliefs and customs of people during different eras of history. Today unicorns are in the realm of fantasy but once people truly believed they existed and there was even a market for the horns and tests for their authenticity which made some people very rich or had them locked away for faking horns! Royalty often sought the horn to fend off inevitable death.
  • Many modern toys depict unicorns, including My Little Pony™.
  • If the unicorn comes with wings (in the form of Pegasus), the unicorn is known as an Alicorn.

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Categories: Fantasy Animals