In my novel, A Lost Gospel, a Unicorn is present at the birth of Jesus.This is something – as far as I know – not disputed by religious scholars. Glarus, the Celtic priestess who accompanied the Unicorn, describes this event to Bettine and Sirona, themselves young women attending unicorns. Glarus was asked to be present at the birth by the astrologers seeking the Baby. We know of them as the Three Wise Men, or Kings.
“The kings had some information, but the rest they had to figure out. They had
surrounded themselves with astrologers, navigators and philosophers. They knew
from the Jew’s Holy Book that the baby was to be born in Bet Lehem, and the Star
helped lead them to that town. We didn’t need the Star the last couple of days, but
it had given us comfort during a hard and uncomfortable trip. That last night we
waited on the outskirts of the town, and went in after sunset.”
“Were you afraid?” Sirona leaned closer.
“No. Why would I be?”
“You were going to see god.” Bettine glanced at Sirona as she spoke.
“To see God is a joy – not a fear.”
“And was he a baby?” Sirona giggled. “A baby god.”
“It was a time for the paying of taxes to Caesar, and Bet Lehem was crowded with people.” Glarus examined the fire for a moment. “The inns and resting places were fully occupied. We finally found Yeshua and his parents in a barn, beside one of the inns. He was settled with the animals, and sleeping in the hay.”
“But this was a god.”
“But – ” Bettine sounded perplexed. “He should have been in a temple – or a palace. Not surrounded by animals.”
“There are more barns than palaces.” Glarus nudged the wood in the fire with a poker. “And more animals than priests. God is god of the world – not some carved gold in a temple.”
“But god can have whatever he wants.”
“Yes.” Glarus leaned forward and touched the young woman. “So remember what he chose.”
“What was god like?” Sirona was impatient, and pulled on Glarus’ skirt.
“God was the baby of a woman. A baby such as any of us could have.” Glarus looked at them closely. “You must not forget that. This god is as much man as god.” She stood suddenly and leaned toward the fireplace. “He was asleep when we entered. Even his mother was dozing as she held him.”
“What was she like?” Sirona didn’t realize one question interrupted another.
“Her name was Mary.” Glarus removed the pot from the open flame, and placed it upon a squat stone jutting into the hearth. “She smiled as her head nodded – she seemed quite peaceful. She was attractive, but not what one would call beautiful. She didn’t seem much older than me.” Glarus looked mildly surprised. “She could still be alive, for that matter. She certainly seemed healthy enough.”
“Did she talk to you?” Sirona leaned forward, the heat of the fire against her face.
“She spoke to the ones who knew her tongue.” Glarus looked down at the women. “But no – not to me.” She suddenly smiled. “I saw her glancing at me a few times, as her husband talked to the others. And she took a liking to the unicorn – as did the baby.”
“Did she – “
“What I felt most was her bewilderment.” Glarus didn’t realize she had interrupted Bettine. “She must have wondered why rich and powerful people were crowding into a barn to see her son. Giving birth for the first time was enough to get used to.”
The women were silent for awhile. Glarus stirred the pot, and tasted the liquid in the ladle. Bettine looked curiously around the house, while Sirona stared thoughtfully at her mother. She was hearing things she had never heard before.
“When did the baby wake up?” Bettine’s question broke into the silence.
“We hadn’t been there long.” Glarus began moving about the room, gathering mugs together, along with food and utensils. “I think I was the first to notice. I just followed the lead of the unicorn, which already was walking toward him.”
“Did he touch the unicorn?”
“Yes.” Glarus took a loaf of bread from a cupboard, and removed some wedges of
cheese from a pottery jar. “It was obvious Mary had never seen such a creature. I
don’t think she was afraid, but she was hesitant to let the unicorn get too close
to the baby.” Glarus ladled the hot drink into the mugs. “However, Yeshua reached
out with his tiny hands, and tried to touch the ivory horn.”
“Did he touch you?” Bettine sipped the drink, and found the fruit tasted as if it were off the tree.
“Mary let me hold him, as she and Joseph prepared some of their food for the kings.” Glarus passed the platter of bread and cheese to the young women. “Food less grand than this. But still, the best of what they had.”
“You held god in your hands?” Sirona marvelled at the secrets she had never heard.
“Yes. While the others ate.”
“What was it like?”
“Damp.” Glarus looked at them both and laughed. “He was a warm and wet little baby, open-mouthed and smiling one moment, squeezing up his eyes in frustration the next. I still had the smell of myrrh on me, and he pushed his face into my breast, making contented baby noises. To the others, it looked as if he were trying to get fed. Joseph said something which made the others laugh.” Glarus chuckled as she took a bite of cheese. “When I finally heard what it was, I smiled too, even though I was embarrassed.”
“What did he say?” Sirona and Bettine asked the question together.
“Well. It’s no secret I’m big up here.” Glarus placed an arm across her chest. “I’ve had too much attention from too many men to let me forget.” Glarus cut more slices from the loaf of bread. “Joseph had said, that if the baby became too used to me, they’d have to use one of the cows after I left.”
“What did you say?” Sirona shared a glance with Bettine.
“It wasn’t my place to say anything. Anyway, I could tell he wasn’t trying to be offensive – or attentive. He was a poor man surrounded by rich and powerful strangers, and he was trying to be accepted.”
“Did Mary say anything?”
“Mary did not push out her garment, even if she was full of milk. After the laughter had stopped, I dared glance at her. She gave a shy smile and shrugged her shoulders.”
“If you hadn’t gone the way you did.” Bettine dipped her mug back into the flavoured drink. “Without following the star and the kings – would you have known Yeshua was a god?”
“No.” Glarus sipped from her mug, then placed it on the table. “But the circumstances were not natural.” Glarus hesitated before slicing more cheese. “The unicorn would not have been present, and I would not have seen them share time.”
“What did he do?”
“Both.” Sirona was excited. “When they were together.”
“They looked at each other with recognition.”
“But – ” Sirona coughed over her drink. “They had never seen each other before.”
“They saw more than just the bodies they possess.” Glarus placed her hands side-by-side on the table, almost touching. “When Mary realized the unicorn would do no harm, she held the baby this close to him. Yeshua reached a grasping little fist toward the ivory horn.” Glarus smiled at the two women. “You know how the unicorns avoid a stranger’s touch.”
“Yes.” They both again spoke in unison, and laughed.
“He bent his head carefully toward Mary, and let the tiny fingers rub against his horn. Yeshua’s eyes went wide as he sniffed him all over. The unicorn pawed in the dirt and the straw, and as much as his face is capable of smiling, I’d swear that he did.
“He didn’t even mind when Mary began to scratch him behind the ears. He moved his head so she could stroke the base of his horn, which he loves most of all.”
“I didn’t know of that place for years.” Bettine absently rubbed her fingers across the table. “I hesitated a long time before I even touched the horn. It can be so cold.”
“They don’t encourage contact,” agreed Sirona.
“Perhaps I was jealous. He encouraged Mary and the baby to do things for which I had waited years.” Glarus looked into the fire a long time. “He showed complete trust amid the strangers and the tumult. Usually, just the smell of humans and other animals make him disappear. This time, he ceased being wary, and concentrated fully on that little baby.”
“And Yeshua?” Sirona stared at her mother. “What did he do?”
“The baby turned his head, and stared at me.” Glarus again hesitated. “It was then I knew that I was looking into eyes which had seen the OtherWorld.”