Wild boars are fearsome, dangerous animals, yet prized for their meat, a favorite game animal of the Celts. The boar is an emblem of fertility, fearlessness, and strength, but also stubbornness, war, and chaos. As the meat of the boar is prized, it is also a symbol of hospitality. Any function of importance would include a feast with boar meat (Nothing says “you’re an honored guest” like a tusk-wound!) as a central offering, and roasted boar meat (the remains thereof, at least) is a frequent find in the burial-places of tribal chieftains.
Serving boar meat not only demonstrated the honored position of a guest; it proved the skill and hunting prowess of the host. The boar figures heavily in tales of the Otherworld, often in the guise of a trickster figure, full of cunning and mischief. In mythological tales, the boar is often directly or indirectly involved in the death of the hero. The boar is a companion of the Celtic Diana and a frequent participant in the “wild hunt,” an otherworldly procession of faeries and ghosts. Otherworld pigs are usually enchanted, most often, they are involuntarily transformed as punishment for evil doings in human form.
|Pictish carving||The Celts’ carnyx, or battle-trumpet, often took the shape of a boar’s head.|
The earliest tale in which King Arthur appears is the Welsh story of Twrch Trwyth, a transformed king who embarks on a destructive rampage; the hero Culwch, a cousin of Arthur, must obtain a magical comb and scissors from the boar in order to marry the daughter of a giant.
More Celtic Symbols