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Observations placeholder

Totem group – Picts – Sign of Zodiac - Boar



Type of Spiritual Experience


A description of the experience

T C Lethbridge – Painted Men
tattooing in ancient Europe appears to have taken the form of the clan animal or symbol.  Even some Greek clans were tattooed in this way. Some of the Highland clans were certainly totemic.  We have the Epidii (the horse people), the Orc people (the tribe of the boar), while Clan Chattan (the men of the Cat) remains to this day and gave its name to Caithness.

We can be reasonably certain that the boar was a totem animal and would thus have been a Sign of the Zodiac .  What we don't know is whether the boar was mapped to a constellation.  There is no constellation in the sky these days that has the designation of a boar, but this does not mean that once it did have.  There may thus have been a pattern of stars that was designated the boar in the Pictish system.

The variety of Symbols used for the Signs of the Zodiac

Some evidence that alternative Signs of the Zodiac symbols were used in mystic systems other than the Pictish system, comes from a traditional German ’folk’ rhyme. It apparently describes a sequence of stars or constellations associated with the changing seasons:

‘Eber, Riese, Himmelskuh zählen wir dem Winter zu.
Hase, Wolf und Menschenpaar stellen uns den Frühling dar.
In Hahn und Hengst und Ährenfrau die Sommersonne steht genau.
Schwalbe, Hirsch und Bogenschütz sind des Herbstes feste Stütz.’

This has been translated into English as:

‘Boar, giant, and celestial cow we count to the winter.
Hare, wolf and human pair represent the spring.
At rooster, stallion and corn-ear-woman is summer solstice.
Swallow, deer (stag) and archer are the frame of autumn.’

From the above text, we can see some possible correlation with modern symbols - the human pair (Gemini), the corn-ear-woman (Virgo), and the archer (Sagittarius).  But we have the added symbols of Boar, Giant, Cow, Hare, Wolf, Cock, Horse/stallion, Swallow, and Stag.

Pictish symbols do not seem to include the Giant, Cock or Swallow.  But the Boar, Wolf, Horse and Stag are there.  The Boar in the German poem is a winter constellation.


The source of the experience


Concepts, symbols and science items

Science Items

Activities and commonsteps