|Adder, Snake (Nadredd):
The snake has long been associated with wisdom, reincarnation, and
cunning. The Poisonous adder of the British Isles has the same reputation.
Although there were no snakes in Ireland, the Irish Celts knew about them.
The Druids were known in Wales as Nadredd. The Druids also carried an amulet
called gloine nathair (Serpent Glass); which was suppose to be formed from
the eggs of an adder.
This animal is unyielding in the face of danger and is noted for its
tenacity and courage. In the Welsh tale of Pwyll's courting of Rhiannon,
a badger is mentioned as a guide during dreaming. The badger will teach
you to fight for your rites and defend your spiritual ideas.
Associated with the underworld or Awwyn, as the bats radar guides it
through the night avoiding obstacles and barriers, so it can teach you
to do the same.
Although the bear was native to the Isles, it is now extinct there.
The word Arth, means bear, which is the root word for the name Arthur.
The bear was noted for its strength and stamina. It is said to help give
you balance in life and the strength to do what is necessary.
The bee is reveared as industrious, single minded when performing a
task, and fearless when deffending its home.
Blackbird (Druid-dhubh, Lon Duhb):
Legends say that the birds of Rhiannan are three blackbirds, which
sit and sing in the World Tree of the Otherworlds. Their singing puts the
listener into a sleep or a trance which enables him/her to travel to the
otherworld. It was said to impart mystic secrets.
Important in the arts and myths of the celtic people, the boar was
known for its cunning and ferocious nature. A famous legendary boar was
Orc Triath, which the goddess Brigit owned. In the Arthurian tales of the
Mabinogion the boar Twrch Trwyth was a terrible foe to Arthur. The White
Boar of Marvan sent inspiration to its master to write music and poetry.
A common animal figure in Celtic mythology, the bull symbolizes strength
and potency. Certain divination rituals required the sacrifice of a white
bull. In the tale of the TAin Bo Cuailgne (Cattle raid of Cooley), two
special bulls are coveted by two rulers. The Tar-roo-Ushtey (Water bull)
is said to haunt the Isle of Man.
In many cultures the butterfly is thought to be the souls of the dead
and keepers of power. There is said to be no negative energies experienced
in any otherworld area when there is the presence of butterflies. It is
said that they will help you to view matters with greater clarity.
Cat (Caoit, Cat):
Many of the Celtic legends picture the cat as a ferocious, evil creature,
but that may have been because cats at that time were untamed. In Ireland
Finn mac Cumhail was said to have fought a clan of "cat-headed" people.
The cat is a strong protector, especially when placed in confrontation.
In several Celtic legends the cock chases away ghosts and unwanted
spirits by his crowing at dawn. It represents the power of the word to
Once so important to the Celts it was used as a form of currency or
monetary exchange. Ancient Irish lords were known as bo-aire or cow-lord.
The cow was sacred to the goddess Brigit. The cow symbolizes contentedness,
defending the inner child, and providing for daily needs.
At one time the crane was a common animal in the British Isles. One
later Celtic tradition, apparently originated after the arrival of Christianity,
is that cranes are people who are paying a penance for some wrong doing.
The crane is associated with the Cailleach and Manannan Mac Lir, who made
his crane bag from its skin. The crane with its colors of black, white,
and red, was a moon bird, sacred to the Triple Goddess. Magick, shamanic
travel, learning and keeping secrets, reaching deeper mysteries and truths
is said to be taught by the crane.
This animal is to be treated with care. Along with the raven, the crow
is a symbol of conflict and death, an ill-omen associated with such Goddess
as Macha, Badb, and Morrigan. The Irish word for crow is badb, which is
also the name of a Celtic war Goddess. Although the crow was ill-omened,
it was also considered to be skillfull, cunning, and a bringer of knowledge.
It teaches you to learn from the past, but not to hold onto it. It is of
most value when trickery is in need.
Deer (Abhach) or Stag (Sailetheach):
In its form of the white doe or white stag, the deer was often a messenger
and guide from the Otherworld. Following such an animal led the unsuspecting
human into contact with supernatural beings. The antlered headdress of
Cernunnos is a symbol of the stags stature. The deer represents keen scent,
grace, swiftness, and gentleness. These are the ways of reaching our goals
without using force.
Dog (Abach, Mada) or Hound (Cu):
Devoted hounds are often mentioned in Celtic myth, such as Bran and
Sceolan which belonged to Finn mac Cumhail. Underworld hounds, such as
the Welsh Cwn Annwn belonged to Arawn, are always white with red ears.
The Underworld Hounds run down and punish the guilty. Dogs represent tracking
skills, the ability to scent a trail, and companionship.
This creature was associated with the sea deities. It deals with dreams
and harmony, and recognizing and balancing the rythms of your body with
those of nature.
Dragon (Piastras (payshtha), Horn):
The dragon in Celtic-British mythology has more varieties than the
standard legged form; it is sometimes represented as a water serpent or
worm-shaped beast. There are many references to serpents or dragons in
Celtic myth. On many occasions the Fianna fought huge dragons in lakes.
Most cultures consider the dragon a benevolent dwellar of caves, lakes,
and the inner Earth. It was an ancient symbol of wealth. The dragon symbolizes
the power of the Elements, especially that of the Earth, but also of the
treasure of the subconscious mind.
A bird noted for wisdom and long life in Celtic stories. The eagle
represents swiftness, strength, keen sight, and the knowledge of magick.
It helps you to see hidden spiritual truths. Eel (As-chu): One of many
stories in which the eel is mentioned is the story of the swineherds who
battled through a variety of shape-shifting forms. In their final forms
as eels, the swineherds were swallowed by cows who later gave birth to
magickal bulls. Cu Chulainn's spear Gae-Bolga got its name from the eel.
The eel symbolizes adaptability, wisdom, inspiration, and defense.
Fox (Mada Rua):
In Taliesin's Song of His Origins, the Bard says he assumed the shape
of a satirizing fox, a reference to the cunning, slyness, and ability of
the fox to make fools out of those who chase it. The ability to watch the
motivations and movements of others while remaining unobserved is the skill
which we may learn from the fox.
In many cultures the frog is a symbol of magick. It can teach you to
leap swiftly from one level of consciousness to another, from this world
to the Otherworld. The frog can also help you find the courage to accept'
new ideas, nuture yourself, and find connections between ideas.
Hare or Rabbit (Coinin):
An animal sacred to the Goddess Andraste in particular. Its movements
were sometimes used for divination; Boudicia used a hare this way just
before her last battle with the Romans. It is associated with transformation,
the recieving of hidden teachings, and intuitive messages.
Celtic oral tradition lists the oldest animal as the Hawk of Achill.
As with other birds, the hawk is a messenger between the Otherworld and
this world. However, it is of greater skill and strength than other birds.
It symbolizes clear sightedness and longevity of the memory. If you hear
a hawk cry during a journey, be alert to upcoming situations that need
boldness and decisiveness to keep from being thrown off balance.
Horse (Cab-all, Capall):
A popular animal of the Celts. Sacred to the Goddesses Epona and Rhiannon.
The horse was considered to be a faithful guide to the Otherworld. It symbolizes
stamina, endurance, and faithfulness.
The lizard symbolizes the shadowy plane of manifestation where events
are constantly changing shapes and patterns. If you see a lizard on a journey,
be alert to all below the suface activities going on around you.
This creature is considered the keeper of deep secrets and hidden knowledge.
It can help with divinatory skills and the development of psychic senses.
Sometimes it symbolizes the need to look deeper within yourself to see
that which is often hidden.
This bird is said to deal with omens and prophecies, as well as the
mysteries of life and death.
The mouse is often mentioned in Celtic folklore. In a Welsh story with
Manawydan and Pryderi, a mouse is portrayed as the shape shifted wife of
the magician Llwyd. The mouse represents secrets, cunning, shyness, and
the ability to hide in times of danger.
These animals were considered very magickal by the Celts. Otters were
said to appear and help during the voyages of Maelduine, Brendan, and others.
The otter is a strong protector who helps with gaining wisdom, finding
inner talents, faithfulness, and the ability to recover from any crisis.
These birds were most often associated with the Crone aspects of the
Goddess. The word "cailleach" in the Scottish Gaelic means "owl." The owl
is often a guide to and through the Underworld, a creature of keen sight
in darkness, and a silent and swift hunter. It can help unmask those who
would decieve you or take advantage of you.
A swine was considered to be the magickal, sacred food of the Tuatha
De Dannan and an animal of Manannan mac Lir. In the Mabinogion Pwyll received
a gift of pigs from the underworld God, Awrawn. Their later theft by Gwydion
caused the death of Pwyll's son Pryderi. The writtings of Merlin say that
he spoke with a little pig in visions. Symbolic of the spiritual food necessary
to the Druids who were said to be swine herders.
Rats are not mentioned in a favorable light in Celtic folklore, but
they have their place. Rats are sly, sometimes aggressive, creatures who
can track down whatever they seek, defending themselves ferociously.
Take care when dealing with this bird. An important animal of the Celts.
In Ireland the raven was associated with the battlefields and such Goddesses
as Morrigu or the later Welsh Morrigan, just as the crow. The bird was
connected with Bran the Blessed. In Welsh, bran means, "raven." Although
its reputation is dubious, it is an oracular bird. It often represents
the upsets and crisis of life that are necessary for new creation.
A very wise, magickal creature in Celtic lore. A salmon of great knowledge
is said to swim in the Well of Segais, eating the mystical hazelnuts that
fall into the well. When the Irish hero Finn mac Cumhail burned his thumb
on a salmon and then put the thumb in his mouth, he gained shamanic knowledge.
The salmon teaches how to get in touch with ancestral knowledge and how
to put it to practicle use.
There is no refference in Celtic lore that I have found, however, they
are connected to sea deities, such as the God Manannan mac Lir and the
Goddess Don in Celtic Shamanism. Like other birds, they are messengers
from the Otherworld.
The Goddess Cerridwen was known as the White Sow. The sow was considered
a very powerful creature in the Underworld. As a creature of Cerridwen,
it was associated with the Sacred Cauldren and the granting of inspiration;
also a creature of death and rebirth.
This creature is always prepairing for the future; it is said to have
shown the druid how to do this in a practical way. Sometimes its appearance
heralds changes, even adversities. Plan ahead so that you may always be
A mystical bird who finds its way into several Celtic stories. Its
feathers were often used in the ritual cloak of the Bards. Swans are connected
with music and song. Swans also help with the interpretation of dream symbols,
transitions, and spiritual evolution.
The turtle is a slow moving, methodical creature, carrying its protection
constantly with it. It is said to teach the druid to be grounded, how to
stay in tune with Earth energies, the wisdom of flowing with the cycles
of life, and to be gentle with the body's needs.
This mythical Celtic creature had the body of a white horse, the legs
of an antelope, tail of a lion; and a single horn on its head. It is the
symbol of supreme magickal power. It teaches that every action is creation,
so make every day count.
The wolf is a cunning, intelligent creature, capable of out thinking
hunters. It can teach you how to read the signs of nature in everything,
how to pass danger invisibly, how to outwit those who would wish you harm,
and how to fight when needed.
Wren (Dryw, Dreoilin):
A sacred bird to the Druids specifically, its musical notes were used
for divination. As with many other birds, the wren was considered a messenger
from the deities.