From Greek natural history which was convinced the unicorn was a real animal to medieval mythology surrounding these noble beasts, unicorn lore is a vast topic spanning thousands of years. These beautiful creatures have been described by countless individuals and the focus has largely been on their single majestic spiral horn, its properties, and its powers. The mythology tells us that unicorns had the unique ability to purify poisoned water and heal the sick. What they didn’t tell you is that they can also ruin a perfectly good game of volleyball.

This is why you don’t bring your unicorn to the beach.

Many people throughout history have considered the unicorn to be more than just another myth or fairy tale, more than a symbol of purity and willfulness. Tales of unicorns had circulated through the western world from the time of the ancient Greeks to the early 19th century, tales that were believed to be true accounts of encounters with a creature that lived in the forest. Most stories agree that the unicorn appeared to be a creature not unlike a wild horse but pure white, with cloven hoofs, and the telltale horn protruding from its forehead. Christian lore added many traits to the unicorn like its own purity of spirit and the ability to sense the pure spirit of others. In keeping with this concept, it was thought (in Medieval Europe) that only a virgin woman could coax and draw in such a wild creature.

So widespread was the belief in the unicorn that even the famous explorer Marco Polo tried to describe it in his journals. Unfortunately, what he described was actually very clearly a rhinoceros. Woops!

Good thing he didn’t try to use a virgin woman to capture one of those bad boys!

With most people believing in unicorns, there were plenty of swindlers and cheats out there trying to make a buck off of easy marks. The incredible substance known as alicorn, of which the unicorn’s horn was said to consist, and its many healing properties became a fixation for the sick and the maimed. Numerous individuals sold unicorn horn that seemed legitimate. It had the spiral shape, the right length, and many people had never seen anything like it before. What they didn’t know was that these sorts of horns are commonly found on the decidedly un-magical Narwhal. Naturalists and physicians like Ole Worm of Denmark Sir Thomas Browne of England wrote at length about common superstitions like those surrounding the unicorn and its horn, including the fact that many of these horns came from these strange sea creatures and NOT a white horse-like creature. Sadly, it doesn’t seem like most people were willing to listen to their sound advice.

Anyway, time has passed and belief in unicorns has faded. We’ve realized the potency of its symbolism and the majesty of its image, but we have largely given up the belief that we’ll find a unicorn somewhere in the forest. While that may be a little sad, it’s also a good thing, as we move closer to truth and away from being swindled by Narwhal horns.

We also don’t have to worry about unicorns ruining our beach parties anymore.

Also: Happle Tea is back! Hooray! Sorry for being gone last week, I just needed a break. There will be a comic on Friday!