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Week three of the Creatures and Happiness series! Much can be said about unicorns; of their purity, their beauty and their powers. Today, I would like to focus on one particular trait: their unbelievability.

The unicorn, perhaps more than any other magical creature, has come to symbolize that which is impossible to find, irrational, extremely rare, or does not exist at all. It has been equated with those who are irrational or gullible as well as eccentric, I.E. “I’m not weird; I’m a unicorn.” I even once had a philosophy professor use the unicorn to question the definition of existence: “If the idea of a unicorn exists, does that mean a unicorn exists?”

This desperate need to believe in the unbelievable with regards to unicorns has probably been laughed at since the first Viking tried to con some unsuspecting European into buying Narwhal tusks: “Oh SURE it is a magical unicorn horn with special powers (hehehe, suckers!).”

Often mention of “special unicorns” and the like is done mockingly by the most rational among us. However, is admiration of unicorns such a bad thing? Consider this: if the unicorn were commonplace, if we could catch them and breed them and discern their properties, would they still be unicorns? Maybe, but they would certainly lose a lot of their mystique.

The unicorn, in this way, represents the quintessential power of magic. We cannot ever hope to capture it, explain it, or quantify it. And we shouldn’t. This doesn’t mean that it denies facts or stands in opposition to them. Rather, magic’s job is to make us look beyond that which can be concretely explained; to imagine, to dream, to create, to wonder. To realize that there is always more to explore. This is what the unicorn, in all its white rainbow horned sparkly glory, reminds us. Those who admire unicorns know how important it is to believe in the extraordinary. For those who believe, the unicorn is, and always will be, just over the next horizon.

For an intuitive and absolutely hilarious take on the connection between unicorns and happiness, you can’t miss Shawn Achor’s talk on Amy the Unicorn. Check it out.

(Source: Encyclopedia of Fantasy: Unicorns)