Unicorn -- n. an imaginary animal like a horse but having a single horn in the middle of its forehead, the hind legs of an antelope, and the tail of a lion. [< Latin unicornis < unus one + cornu horn] - from the Thorndike-Barnhart Student Dictionary
"The unicorns were the most recognizable magic the fairies possessed, and they sent them to those worlds where belief in the magic was in danger of failing altogether. After all there has to be some belief in magic - however small - for any world to survive".
(Terry Brooks, The Black Unicorn)
The Unicorn was a mystical creature described in ancient Greek and Roman myths. They were placed among virgin saints and said to be an emblem of purity. Though it would fight savagely when cornered, it could be tamed by a virgin's touch. During the Middle Ages, and even later, the unicorn's horn (as it was alleged to be), because of its fabled purity, was a popular ingredient for medicines and for alchemical reactions. Potentates and pontiffs obtained reputed unicorn's horn because it was considered a strong protection against poison. The horn was also believed to ward off stomach trouble and epilepsy. The Unicorn is found throughout world legends.
"All of the beasts obeyed Noah when he admitted them into the ark. All but the unicorn. Confident of his strength he boasted 'I shall swim!'. For fourty days and fourty nights the rains poured down and the oceans boiled as in a pot and all the heights were flooded. The birds of the air clung onto the ark and when the ark pitched they were all engulfed. But the unicorn kept on swimming. When, however, the birds emerged again they perched on his horn and he went under -- and that's why there are no more unicorns now."
-- from a Ukranian folk tale
"Do you know, I always thought unicorns were fabulous monsters, too? I never saw one alive before !" "Well, now that we have seen each other," said the unicorn, "if you'll believe in me, I'll believe in you."
--Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking Glass
When the last eagle flies over the last crumbling mountain. And the last lion roars at the last dusty fountain. In the shadow of the forest though she may be old and worn. They will stare unbelieving at the Last Unicorn.
When the first breath of winter through the flowers is icing. And you look to the north and a pale moon is rising and it seems like all is dying and would leave the world to mourn in the distance. Hear her laughter It's the Last Unicorn. I'm alive... I'm alive.
When the last moon is cast over the last star of morning. And the future is past without even a last desparate warning. Look into the sky where through the clouds a path is formed. Look and see how she sparkles. It's the Last Unicorn I'm alive... I'm alive...
It has been rumored that a mystic ruby could be found at the base of a Unicorn's horn. This rare jewel was called a "carbuncle". It is believed that the jewel was a source of the horn's powers, but was not seen on all unicorns.
In the Middle Ages the carbuncle was believed to be the "King of Gems", being able to banish sadness, evil and dispel all poisons. It is possible that the ruby is some kind of distillation of the essence of the horn. Perhaps it may only occur in very old or wise unicorns and be caused by the crystallization of blood.
From "The Book of the Unicorn" by Nigel Suckling