By understanding the meanings in animal symbols, we can adopt their best attributes into our own lives. The Celts tapped into the spirits of the animals that provided them with insights or qualities they desired. Let’s focus first on our most reliable domestic companions – the cat and the dog.
By way of the Egyptians to the Romans – and from the Romans to the Celts – the symbolism of cats has been handed down from nation to nation. Overall, the cat represents the guardian of the Otherworld (or the Underworld). Unflappable, silent and mysterious, cats make the best guardians, because they keep secrets to themselves forever, as they gaze with guile upon the Underworld – a place that doesn’t truly understand the depth of their knowledge.
Astute, crafty and clever, felines are also a link to mystical realms. When they’re called upon, they can provide a variety of insights into more esoteric, ethereal knowledge.
In the Western tradition, black cats have been associated with witchcraft, and black can represent perils that lurk in our lives, particularly at night – so the black cat in particular is associated with transformation, just as nightfall shifts our perception of reality.
In Ancient Rome, the cat was sacred to Diana, the Goddess of the Moon. The cat was also considered a guardian of homes, and a symbol of domestic purity.
The dog symbol has a ubiquitous and overarching meaning – loyalty is its primary asset. The canine is man – and woman’s – best friend, and the dog represents a bond of companionship between human and animal.
The dog was traditionally considered to be good luck, and therefore the canine was often used symbolically in Celtic décor, clothing and household goods. Some say that the dog symbol portends good health, and in fact recent scientific studies show that a dog’s companionship probably did help to keep illnesses away. Current research suggests that a number of diseases may be caused by – or aggravated by – loneliness and rejection, and the petting of dogs has proven beneficial in some clinical studies.
It’s also important to note that a Celt never hunted without a hound. Dogs were necessities. Necessities were highly regarded, and of course canines provide a different sort of companionship from what cats bring to the table. Because they are less aloof, their friendship is more fulfilling to many.
Which type of attribute do you need to bring into your life? Is there an animal symbol you like to have nearby, to absorb energy from? How does it help you to find balance in your life, or achieve your goals? Let us know!