NeoCeltic Animal Totems
by Donald Leitch
I have listed the name of the animal, then the name in Gaelic(if it is known to me), and it’s qualities.
Badger(Breach) or Bear(Arth) – Animals of strength and stamina; and due to hibernation, guides in sleep and dreaming. It is said that Arthur was so-named because of these qualities.
Blackbird(Druid-dhubh) – Bird of magical and otherworldly passage. Able to impart secrets with its song, singing people into a magical sleep that would carry them to the Otherworld. Associated with the druids, hence the name(druid and black (if my translations are correct.)) Powerful in Welsh systems.
Bull – Wealth,strength,stamina,power,vision. Linked symbolically to the oak(both have the same attributes) and Mistletoe(the white berries as the sperm or seed of the bull.)
Cat(Caoit) – Strong guardian,protector of inner powers, fierce in confrontations. A sudden striker often with fiery attributes.
Crow(Bahb) or Raven(Bran) – Bird of omen(often ill-omen), skillful, cunning, single-minded,oracular. Associated with war-gods(who are often followed by these birds) or most often war-goddesses
Deer(Abhach) or Stag(Sailetheach) – Guide to the sidhe realms, often leading a hunter into them. A shape-shifter, The Fith-Fath(pronounced fee-faw) or “deer-aspect” is a charm said to bestow the image of animals onto people.
Compassionate, graceful, and swift.
Dog(Cu), Hound(Abach), or Wolf(Crimthann) – Pack animal, protective of its group. Animal of the hunt and of battle, due to it’s tracking, near human instinct, and protective nature; associated with Gwyn ap Nudd, Kernunnos, and Cuchulain. Also St.columbia’s original name was Crimthan, he changed it because of the connotations (columba means dove.)
Eagle(Iolair) – Swiftness, keen sight, magic, renewed wisdom, an explorers’ companion.
Eel (as-chu) – Wisdom and inspiration, because of the phallic shape and for consuming salmon. Defensive and protective, also a warrior totem ( the Morrigan took the form of an eel while fighting cuchulain.)
Hawk(Aracos) – Far reaching memory (in one story the oldest living creature) And ancient knowledge. Strong ancestral ties. The hawk is also a solar totem, Lugh is said to have assumed this guise.
Horse (cab-all) – Speed, stamina, power, nobility. Faithful and loyal.
This totem is linked to Rhiannon, who was forced to act as “horse” because of false witness to a crime she did not commit. The horse is also a royal animal.
Otter(Balgair) – Faithful, single minded, a protector, healing animal totem.
Salmon(Brionnfhionn) – The totem of wisdom and acquiring Knowledge. The consumer of the sacred hazelnuts of wisdom. This totem is commonplace in celtic myth, it is often eaten to convey its wisdom.
Swan – Symbols of love and hardships, as evident in the story of the children of Lir.
Sow(Aire) and the boar(culloch / Bacrie), also young boar(orcc) – The sow is said to be wise and providing, fertile and motherly. The Boar is fierce and strong, Powerful and inspirational. To see a boar in the fields before a harvest is a bad omen. Also healing as sidhe pigs were eaten, only to be found whole and restored in the morning. Also, Lugh had a magical pig skin that possessed curative and healing powers.
Crane – Guardian of watery gateways to the otherworld.