Fauna Of Ireland & The British Isles.

Fauna Of Ireland & The British Isles.

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  • #6919

    Loegaire
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    The Mystique Of Birds & Beasts In Celtic Folklore :

    Native-born people all over the world use animals and birds as tribal symbols and magical totems, sacred and spiritual creatures that can act like the Dog as your spiritual guide to the after-world, or your guardian spirit found in the Native-American beliefs, to the ancient Celts the Hare was a sacred creature, never to be eaten, if you broke this taboo you might experience the wrath of the moon-goddess, depriving yourself of the virtues of rebirth, regeneration and spiritual happiness.

    The perceived qualities and attributes of the creatures of the fauna make it pretty much universal in their symbolic meanings and interpretations, the desired virtues of warriors in the Celtic world was either that of a European Bear or working together like a Wolf Pack. The courage of the Bear when cornered by hunters, the cool and stubborn strength of the Wolf, the keen sight of the Crow and the Lynx Cat, the wisdom and hunting vigilance of the Owl, and the calculated cunningness of the Fox.

    Reference : David O’Neill.

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  • #7112
    Loegaire
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    The Wren :

    Although the wren is one of the smallest birds, to the druids it was like the eagle, the king of birds, symbolising the much needed attribute among the learned druids as a symbol of humility, acting as a potent symbol when dealing with the politics of high-chieftains and tribal in-fighting.

    Also the symbolism that the wren protects its home vigorously, the feather of the wren became a totemic symbol of a tribes territories, the paradox of the wren is that it possessed the souls of Otherworldly spirits as well as malevolent spirits of the Celtic underworld.

    To early humankind, the wren was the bringer of fire, this myth is explained by the reddish appearance of the wren in flight. In the Celtic pantheon, the wren became the symbol of the druidic religion, in Irish Gaelic the word for wren is ‘drui’ and in the tongue of Cymru, ‘drwy’, the root-word association with the druids.

    Reference : David O’Neill.

  • #7085
    Loegaire
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    The Raven :

    Has one of the highest IQ’s, the most intelligent of all birds, its linguistic skills are legendary, and it is possible that the raven can both understand and imitate human words, it is this intelligence and its playful nature that made the raven the symbol of the trickster in many mythologies.

    In Denmark the term ‘Ravn-Mudder’, became a euphemism for poor parenting skills, and stems from the notion that the bird waits to see the colours of its chicks feathers before starting to feed and nurture.

    Even if the raven has never been taught to speak in a human language, its voice carries a surprisingly human inflection and tone, this led to the belief that the bird knew everything that the sky-gods would impart, as personified by the ravens of the Norse god Odin, called Hugin & Munin, from the words for Thought & Memory.

    Odin as the Raven-god had daughters called Valkyries, who appeared as ravens, seen on the aftermath of battlefields, this led to the raven being called a harbinger of death, as personified by the Morrigan in Irish mythology.

    As the raven is a carrion bird, consuming dead things it became the symbol of death and darkness, but ravens are also associated with both prophecies and oracles, in Irish mythology and early literature, prophecy and destruction became well stated in the words of the scribes, the magic ravens warned Lugh of the impending invasion of the Fomorians.

    Reference : Adele Nozedar, David O’Neill & Miranda Green.

  • #7084
    Loegaire
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    The Goose :

    If birds are a symbol of divine communication, then the goose is also a symbolic of a more practical way of message giving, as the goose feather is strong and durable yet very malleable, it became the most popular feather for making a quill pen.

    The appearance and behaviour of the goose was considered as a reliable indicator of the weather and the changing seasons, and because of this, the goose was accorded with divinatory powers.

    For the Romans, the goose was a powerful symbol of protection, during the Gaulish invasion of Rome in the third century BC, the flight of the geese alerted the Romans that the Gauls were at the Gates of Rome.

    The Goose lintel of Roquepertuse in Provence stands a huge carved goose stone, the symbol of watchfulness, aggression and alertness, guarding the shrine against intruders, to the Celts the goose symbolised war and protection, the goose image would be painted on the warriors shield, also discovered in Brittany was a Celtic warrior’s helmet with a goose crest.

    Both geese and swans were regarded as sacred in the British Isles, the ancient Britons would not feast upon the flesh of these birds, but things change with the occupation of the Romans, then later in Medieval times the goose became part of the Yule time feasting.

    Reference : Adele Nozedar & Miranda Green.

  • #7083
    Loegaire
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    The Eagle :

    One of the most important archetypal bird symbols, as the prominence of the eagle is a world-wide phenomena, the eagle is regarded by many cultures as the king of the birds, for humankind it resembled power, authority, nobility and truth.

    Representations of the eagle with the snake secured in its talons symbolises spiritual concepts of heaven and earth, instinct and intelligence, and the mundane leading towards the sublime, in Norse mythology the eagle sits in the leafy boughs of the World Tree, while the snake twists its body around the roots.

    The eagle became a symbol of truth and sharp sightedness, the eyesight of the eagle is at least four times sharper than humankind, shaman and druids believed that the eagle communicated with the sky-gods.

    For the native Americans, the possession of an eagle feather was the ultimate accolade, a sacred symbol of might, the eagle had a special place in the heart and pantheon of the native Americans.

    Reference : David O’Neill.

  • #7055
    Loegaire
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    The Crane :

    Long-legged wading or marsh birds, like cranes, herons and egrets, figure strongly in iconic Celtic art and written mythologies, you could say the Maeve, the Queen of Connacht was also associated with the long-legged waders.

    Our ancient ancestors regarded all birds as divine communicators, their druids did not understand the concept of autumn migration to warmer climates, such as swifts and swallows, their misconception was that these birds metamorphosis, shape-shifted into perhaps the more sturdy crow family to get through the winter months.

    There is evidence that the crane has been present on planet Earth for 10 million years, their individual life-spans can reach 50 years, so by many cultures the Crane became a symbol of longevity.

    Most important in the Romano-Celtic imagery are two stone reliefs figuring the Crane or Egrets, the sculptured reliefs from Paris & Trier respectively, both stones date from the 1st century AD, and they show striking similarities with one another.

    On each monument three cranes are associated with a bull, a willow tree and a woodcutter with an axe ready to cut down the willow tree, the interpretation of these ancient scenes is difficult to understand.

    On the Paris stone, the bull has three cranes on his back, and there is  an accompanying dedication to ‘Tarvostrigaranus’, the bull with three cranes, the imagery on both reliefs has specific links, in that the cranes eat parasites from the hide of the bull, thus having a symbiotic relationship with the bull.

    Egrets and Cranes have an affinity with willow trees, both tree and bird have strong associations with water, the imagery of the woodcutter and the tree is sometimes explained as the Tree of Life, being cut down as an seasonal allegory of winter.

    Reference : Miranda Green & Adele Nozedar.

  • #6977
    Loegaire
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    The Goat & The Beaver :

    Perhaps the Egyptian Goat of Mendes became bad pagan press for the Church of Rome, as the goat in the pagan world was considered the symbol of sexual virility therefore demonised by the new religion sweeping across the Roman Empire, although the ancient rituals of Baphomet are to say the least extremely perverse as the word ‘horny’ suggests.

    Although this misconception goes further back than Christianity, the ancient Romans also saw the innocent creature as lascivious, but also a symbol for barren women, which seems a very male-orientated point-of-view, the Festival of Lupercalia was considered as ‘the purification by means of the goat’, also the Greek Satyr was associated with carnality, telling humankind what could happen if they surrendered themselves to primordial desires, hence the Old Testaments use of the word ‘scapegoat’, referring to the demon Azazel.

    In some world mythologies the goat is the symbol of fire, adding to western images of Hades and the fiery goat misinterpretation, in the Vedic tales the goat is used to transport the Lord Agni, the Lord of Fire, and in China & Tibet similar imagery is found, as the goat is seen as a messenger that coveys the Otherworldly blessing of the goddess’s and sky-gods.

    The Beaver :

    The beaver is the symbol of industry and construction because on their dam-building skills, which has at last been seen as a wetland and environmental asset, we have many expressing in the English vocabulary ‘Busy as a Bee’, & ‘A busy person works like a Beaver’, or ‘Beavering away at her task’, for the Native Americans the beaver has a goddess-like persona within their mythology, as the beaver was the bringer of good fortune in the hunt, also the beaver carries within its spirit a strong sense of homeliness, also bearing the instinctive qualities of the feminine side of nature.

    In the Western world of the Medieval times a curious legend about the beaver was circulated, that there was great medicinal properties within the testicles of the beaver, and rather than be captured by the hunter, the male beaver would bite off his own testicles, rendering itself valueless in the eyes of its predator.

    Hence another symbol of the chastity of Christianity, thwarting basic desires, there is now a modern appendage in reference of the beaver becoming the vaginal sheath, and young men suffering from the hormonal ailment of beaver-fever.

    Reference : Adele Nozedar & David O’Neill.

  • #6976
    Loegaire
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    The Wild Boar :

    The symbolic tradition of the Wild Boar in the dense forestry of Europe and beyond, date back thousands of years, at time when the creatures of the world were more prevalent in the psyche of humankind, the wild boar was a symbol of wealth and ferociousness, entering many of the early mythologies of Earth, although it became extinct in the British Isles in the 17th century.

    Like a hermit, the wild boar tends to lead an isolated existence, living alone in forests and woods, therefore the wild boar is symbolic of a solitary spiritual quest, in the Celtic Pantheon, the boar is a symbol of raw unadulterated power that can be channelled in the direction of warrior will-power.

    So its not surprising that the Wild Boar became a battle-standard for the ancient Gauls, painting the wild boar upon the shields, their battlefield banners and engraving the same image on their coinage, wild boars were carved in both wood and stone, signifying the ferociousness of the territorial warriors of that region.

    In both of the Gaelic countries of Ireland & Scotland there exists ancient sculptured art depicting the wild boar on stone monoliths, it is possible it was tribal markers and possibly boar-hunts, though there is a confusing image of a comb & mirror appearing along side the boar, the comb & mirror imagery that we now associated with aquatic images of mermaids.

    An explanation for this points in the direction of the long-haired Celtic Wild Boar goddess Arduinna who live among the trees of the Ardennes area, a bronze figurine was discovered with the goddess astride a boar’s back with a dagger or hunting-knife in her right hand, as another Celtic ambiguity of being both protector and hunter of the wild boar, the beast is killed then reincarnated.

    Because lives by rooting in the undergrowth its not surprising its spiritual classified in the earth element of symbolism, in the Hindu religion and mythology Vishnu takes the form of a boar to raise the sunken earth above sea-level, the Persian warriors incorporated the name of ‘boraz’ to their existing first names as recognition of bravery on the battlefield.

    When it comes to heraldry, the incorporation of the wild boar for the chosen family’s coat of arms, told others they possessed the virtues of bravery, ferocity, spiritual solitude and courage in the face of adversity.

    Reference : David O’Neill.

  • #6975
    Loegaire
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    The Bee :

    In the ancient world, the bee was a very important insect, as it is today, the honey the bees produced was the only natural sweetness available to our ancestors, but also a good preservative agent too, you could taste the sweetness of summer whilst cabined-up in the dark days of winter, the importance of the bee to humankind is reflected in the coins of the Ephesus, coinage dating back to the 5th century BCE, and in Minoan symbolism where their goddess is depicted has being half woman with her lower half being a bees body. In ancient Egypt, the humble bee was the symbol of the Lower Kingdom.

    The bee itself is symbolic of industry and mutual co-operation, however , there is a spiritual side to the beloved insect, one of the symbols of Aphrodite was the golden honeycomb, and it was believed that the souls of Aphrodite’s priestess’s lived in a hive existence, the priestess’s were called the ‘Melissae’, a root-word with associations with ‘the honey of bees’. Their male counterparts equating to drones became the worlds first eunuchs (ouch).

    Because of the by-product of wax, bee-keeping was encouraged by the Irish monks and their great need for candles, bees are a symbolic of immortality, also a symbol of female supremacy, because of the queen bee and her fertility ability of producing life-giving eggs.

    If a bee has to defend herself, then her sting will be ripped from her body, and once the sting is administered, she will die, thus the bee became symbolic of great female heroism and personal sacrifice, like many winged creatures the bee is able to communicate in ways quite alien to humankinds interpretations, such as the pollen dance to alert other bees of the direction of a rich supply of pollen-bearing flowers.

    Reference : Adele Nozedar.

  • #6947
    Loegaire
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    The Red Deer & The Stag :

    In the Celtic Pantheon, the Irish red deer  is thought to be an Otherworldly creature, belonging to the world of the goddess’s and sidhe and possessing supernatural powers, considered one of the oldest creatures in Ireland.

    The deer & the stags live in the darkness of the dense forests and are party to a lot of the esoteric knowledge of the goddess’s of earthly existence, mainly Flidass, the Celtic goddess of all Wild Things, her green vegetated chariot was drawn by the deer.

    There are some elements of deer symbolism that are universal, namely their majestic meekness, their gentleness and their swiftness of feet, despite the masculine energy of the stag, it was always regarded at a feminine creature, associated with the Earth goddess in her aspect of a hunter.

    The antlers of the deer were bestowed upon the herd to be emblematic of the tree of knowledge, the power of femininity, fertility and vitality, the deer is one of the most prominent creatures painted on the walls of caves by our early ancestors, in contemplation of the sacred significance of the animal.

    Shaman and hunters seeking good fortune connected with the Otherworldly spirits of the deer, by wearing antlers and deer-skins, believing that they could have direct contact with the goddess of the Otherworld, so the deer became the guarding spirit in the after-life.

    A funeral rites, figurines of the deer were presented to speed the departed soul of the love on to their final destination. In Buddhism, Buddha started his radical teachings in several deer parks and in the Hindu societies the goddess of great learning, Saraswati, takes the form of a deer, and followers of the goddess hope that meditating on deer-skin mats with help them absorb the sacred knowledge of Saraswati.

    The Stag :

    The antlers of the majestic stag lend it an especial significance as a magical, sacred and Otherworldly creature that we a privileged to see and share our earthy domain with, like the deer the goddess bestowed upon the stag a reminder to humankind of the tree of knowledge, or if you prefer the World Tree symbolising rebirth, the Hopi Indians carved their sun and sky gods like tall antlered humanoids, possibly wearing deer-skins.

    In the pagan world of Greece , the god Pan like Cernunnos wears the head-dress antlers of the stag, both were regarded as the Lords of the Fauna, also the gods of plenty, the behaviour of the stag informs the observer of its symbolic significance, a sensitive creature, able to detect scents in the air from a long way off.

    Stags are swift to react and can make up a lot of ground in a short space of time, therefore vanishing before the eyes of the would-be hunter, the stag is also a courageous fighter, determinedly clashing antlers with an interloper to his territory, especially in the rutting season, the white stag appears in myths, folklore and dreams, it signifies the world of spirit.

    In the Arthurian legends the appearance of the supernatural white stag sends the knights of the round table off on a spiritual quest, the stag is also believed to have great healing qualities, in the early middle-ages the stag was depicted with an arrow in his side with medicinal herbs falling from his mouth.

    For the stag was regarded like the cunning folk of the forest, the male deer consumed the medicinal plants and herbs and could magically heal a warriors wounds, hence the ancient symbol of a stag crushing a snake underfoot as a sign of victory over the negative forces of the world.

    Reference : Adele Nozedar.

     

  • #6922
    Loegaire
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    The Symbolism Of The Fish, The Lamb & The Lynx Cat :

    The Fish, inevitably, is the most prominent symbol of the element of water, living in the depths of the Celtic Underworld, with the Fishes access to the forbidden places of humankind, the early shaman watched the Fish access in hidden depths in search of secret and sacred information of the Underworld deities, delivering and receiving arcane esoteric knowledge of the ancient goddess’s and gods, the main reason why the Irish salmon who lives in both salt and freshwater was always associated with the wisdom and knowledge that could increase humankind’s intelligence.

    The Lamb to the ancient Celts was a very positive symbol of innocence, purity and spirituality, also the ewes connection with Brigid and the Imbolc, the Lambing season signified the beginning of Summer period, that today we call Spring, a time for new hope and the agricultural triumph over the cold months of Winter. The full grown sheep was not such a positive image to the ancient Celts, who regarded their symbolism as blindly running with the flock with the inability of individual thought.

    The Lynx Cat, to the Celts the Lynx was a nocturnal creature, living in a pack in its youth and then preferring a solitary and private existence in its maturity, the Lynx symbolised clairvoyance and the keepers of secret knowledge, because of its amazing eye-sight that would spook a few with its reflective cats-eyes and night-vision, in truth the Lynx Cat does not possess exceptional eye-sight, the Lynx Cat was a prevalent species in both Ireland & the British Isles before extinction, the strings of Lugh’s harp were made of Lynx cat-cut.

    Reference : David O’Neill.

  • #6921
    Loegaire
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    The Horse :

    For several millennia the Horse has enjoyed a spiritual, symbolic and mythical significance that arguably surpasses that of any other living creature. Accordingly, its symbolic significance is massive and varied. That the Horse has long enjoyed a vital link with humankind as a hunting companion, a means of travel, an agricultural asset and unfortunately a beast of burden and a warhorse.

    The Horse appears in many of the worlds mythologies with characters like Epona, Odin & Rhiannon, to name but a few, but our praise of the Horse can go back further then that, to 30,000 years in the past to the cave drawings in the caverns of Lascaux, in France. the story of humankind is closely connected between the equine and the human species.

    The Horse belongs to the Sun element of fire, Horses proudly pulled the Sun-god’s chariot daily across the sky, at the same time the Horse is also a familiar to the moon-goddess and the element of water, since it carries on its back the goddess of the oceans, it was believe that wherever the Horse stamped, a freshwater spring would appear, and so the Horse became a life-giver by the grace of the goddess of the seas.

    In ancient Greece, there is a sacred well called the, ‘Hippocrene’, – The Horse’s Well, which the labourers shaped into a horse-shoe and is dedicated to the Greek Muses. The speed of the Horse at full-gallop and its air-bourn qualities of jumping over obstacles, – led to the creation of the myth of Pegasus, the Winged Horse that rode like the wind.

    The Horse represents power and wealth, since having a Horse, or stables with many Horses, conferred the superiority and prestige of the human in ancient societies, not only in terms of monetary value, but also the distance the rich owners were able to cover over fledgling countries, which leads to another aspect of the Horse, as the symbol of ancient freedom, a person who could become a wandering spirit.

    The individual colour of the Horse, too, carries great significance, the white Horse appears as a symbol of purity and godliness, the white Horse being the favourite of Kings & Queens. The White Horse used by William III of England as he rode from the South Coast to London, William who had been raised in the Dutch Republic of the Netherlands, the white Horse signifying the purity and godliness of the democratic system over the recent tyranny of Charles I & James II, a mural on the walls of the House of Parliament in Westminster depicts this transition from a political powder-keg to the voices of The House of Commons and the new King’s wish for elected democracy.

    Both Buddha and Queen Elizabeth of England are depicted riding a white palfrey, the black horse was popularly used in Victorian funerals with the horse-drawn hearst, the golden Horse figurines from the world over are associated with Sun & Solar deities.

    Reference : Adele Nozadar.

  • #6920
    Loegaire
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    The Celtic Fauna :

    For the ancient Celts the European Bear, which was smaller than its contemporaries in America, was synonymous with the bravery of the warriors, an attribute that wasn’t inclusively male, as the female warriors of Artio, Scathach & Aife can contest too, in the Arthurian legends, you could say another name for Arthur was the Bear King.

    The Bear is also associated with the moon-goddess, an earthly creature that hibernates in the cold winter months, in ancient times the tribes that worshipped the moon-goddess and the Bear, imitated the Bear’s characteristics of hibernation, by stocking up food and fuel and spending the cold winter months closeted in their roundhouses, a tradition that continued in the early parts of Medieval France.

    Some druids and shaman absorbed the spiritual energies of the Bear in their numerous rituals, wearing Bear-Skins in their rites, and also on the field of battle, the Romans being a superstitious lot allowed their Centurions to copy this example of warfare.

    Keeping with the referred creatures of the moon-goddess, with their nocturnal activities, is the association with the sacred Hare, the Celtic Hare was regarded as the light in the darkness, the concealed wisdom of the moon-goddess, who had created the Hare to be the symbol of her rebirth, regeneration and the ritual of renaming a mortal, all linked to the moon because of its changing visual appearance in the night sky, a time without light pollution.

    The Celts believed that the Hare shares these qualities with the moon-goddess, further reinforcing the connection between the lunar deity and the Hare, the fact that the Hare was never eaten by the ancient Celts is a general indication of its sacred status. The Badger is also a nocturnal creature, with vicious claws that would defend its communal Brock, to the point of death, that inspired the hearts of warriors.

    Reference : David O’Neill.

     

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