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Totem group – Picts – Sign of Zodiac - Cow [or Ox]



Type of Spiritual Experience


Fowlis Wester stone -A class 2 stone over 3 metres tall.  On the reverse are several horsemen one carrying a falcon, riding across the stone beneath a double disc.  There is a procession headed by a  man in a long robe leading a cow with a bell round its neck, followed by six figures.  A crescent and v rod sits next to a bird, possibly an eagle and at the bottom a monster is devouring a man.

A description of the experience

Tarbat - cows licking calf

The Pictish society that created these stones was a matriarchal society.  The Bull as a symbol came later, but the Sign of the Zodiac that was used by this particular Totem group was a cow. 

We are reminded yet again in the traditional German ’folk’ rhyme we included for the boar. 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.’

The symbolism is tantalisingly close to that used in the mystic Vedic and Shaivite systems


Nigg stone - Andrew Gibb 1856 pictish side


The source of the experience


Concepts, symbols and science items

Science Items

Activities and commonsteps