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Animal Symbolism in Celtic Philosophy
Throughout history, cultures emerge representative to the importance animals have towards the human understanding of social and personal vitality. From the ancient Egyptians and far-east cultures, to the Native American cultures of the Great Plains, unmistakably animal worlds have intertwined with our own. In the Celtic philosophy, animals were both tools for teaching as well as beings for spiritual guidance. Here is an overview of the four most significant players in human evolution.
Dog: The dog is most often thought of as a familiar, or an animal that helps in matters of spiritual guidance. The philosophy behind this perception is sound. Consider a person who lives with a dog and has had a bad day. One of the first acts of such a person is to pet and hug their dog, frequently gentle conversation between the human and animal is overheard. This exchange affords a person to gain spiritual comfort in times of distress. Hence, the dog acts in an empathetic manner that is familiar, or easily recognizable, to humans.
Boar: The boar stands for abundance, healing, and rebirth. Swineherds were viewed as magical shepherds between the living and the Otherworld. Spiritual gods and goddesses charged with caring for a prosperous boar population were also responsible for the careful selection of hunters. To be entitled with the privilege of hunter, one needed to demonstrate proficient obedience to the laws of nature and not the greed of man. Hunters selected in such a manner would ensure the prosperity and harmony between the people and the animal. In turn, this provided a stable food supply for healthy living and was an adequate gesture of enthusiasm, for both realms, where feasts celebrating the dead were involved.
Salmon: Fish, particularly salmon, represent the center of knowledge. They hold the sacred explanations for the mysteries of nature, and have the ability to teach people how to understand and utilize the powerful talent of empathy. It is likely that the salmon finds stronger symbolism, over other fish, for their resiliency and self-sacrifice.
Snake: The snake represents the natural cycle of life and incorporates the concepts of male and female. The shape of a snake is representative of the male and the shedding of its skin is representative of the female. It is one of the most misrepresented and vilified animals throughout much of human history. Therefore, it is particularly titillating when there is a culture that expresses this animal's positive contributions. When viewed in a purposeful light, snakes are significant educators in the balance of humanity.
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