Pigs, who were called boars in the wild, were the first animals to be domesticated. Pig domestication occurred about 9,000 – 10,000 years ago in two places – central China and Neolithic Anatolia in modern day southwestern Turkey.
Around 7,000 years ago when the Anatolians moved into Europe with their domestic animals and plants, they interacted with the indigenous Mesolithic hunter-gatherers and facilitated an interbreeding of their domestic pig and the local wild boar. The European swine descends from this interbreeding.
The mythical and cultural associations assigned to Pig in all its forms is very contradictory – sacred and beneficial to some, demonic and unclean to others. For our purposes here, we will concentrate on the positive associations.
Pig is associated with fertility, regeneration, death, inspiration, magic, knowledge, good luck, prosperity, transformation, Earth.
The female pig is a sow and has a slightly different connotation from the male pig, a boar. Sow is associated with the Goddess and Mother Earth in many cultures around the world.
The ancients believed that Pig, grounded in Earth, favors us with fertility, life and abundance. A multitude of artifacts from all across western Europe show Pig in strong association with the Great Goddess.
Archeologist, Marija Gimbutas in her life-long work studying the goddesses and gods of Old Europe asserts that pig was a sacred animal by no later than 6000 BC. Her research led her to the assertion that during the early days of agriculture the people were most likely impressed with the fast growing bodies of pigs and equated them with the growing and maturing of their grain. The Vegetation Goddess was often depicted wearing a pig mask. Frequently grain was impressed on the bodies of pig sculptures in the same way that grain images were impressed on the body of the Vegetation Goddess.
Pig is associated with Isis, Egyptian Goddess of Fertility and Demeter, Greek Harvest and Fertility Goddess. Suckling pigs were important to the cult of Demeter and Persephone during their three-day festival Thesmophoria held in October – the time for sowing barley and winter wheat. During this ritual the remains of suckling pigs were mixed with the seeds to be used for sowing. The Egyptians had a similar ritual in which the people of the Nile delta let pigs trample on the seeds, pressing them into the earth
The Celts viewed Pig as a sacred animal – both the wild boar and the domesticated female pig, the sow. They associated sow with the cycles of birth and death, regeneration, the moon, the underworld and intuitive wisdom.
Cerridwen, Welsh Goddess of Transformation, Inspiration and Knowledge was also known as White Sow. Her title “White Sow” and her association with grain connects her to the ancient Vegetation Goddess. Once again the sow is juxtaposed with the goddess – with sow symbolizing good luck and spiritual growth and grain symbolizing abundance and nurturance.
When Sow appears in your life feel the power of the original Great Goddess of Fertility and Vegetation. Know that prosperity is at hand. Use Pig’s steadfast powers to move forward rooting in the soil of Mother Earth to birth your projects and attain prosperity through the ongoing regeneration of life. Pig’s strong sense of smell allows it to survive in changing conditions. In this same way she guides us to transformation when current conditions smell bad.
Pig is associated with good luck and wealth. In Germany the word for luck is interchangeable with the word for pig, “schwein.” Another word, “Glücksschwein”, translates to lucky pig. Feng Shui, as practiced in China, promotes the use of little pig statues in one’s home or business to attract wealth. And of course we are all familiar with piggy banks, where children save their coins to increase their prosperity.
Pigs are remarkably intelligent animals. Only chimpanzees, dolphins and elephants rank higher in intelligence than pigs, making them fourth on the intelligence scale.
Pigs are also very social animals. In a group pigs love to snuggle and when sleeping often sleep nose-to-nose. Pigs are caring mothers – they even “sing” to their little piglets while nursing them. Pigs are constantly communicating with one another. Scientists have identified over 20 different vocalizations. Sensitive and compassionate, pigs can be seen to represent unconditional love.
Pig offers an intelligent solution to and good communication about your situation. Together with intelligence and communication, she bestows strength, stability and grounding when facing life’s difficulties. She awards us with good luck. She calls us to be open to the cycles of regeneration and transformation, to realize our primal connection to Earth, to rely on our intuition and senses which in turn gift us with the wisdom to move forward into spiritual growth and prosperity.
PostScript: As I was writing this piece I was listening to reports about the flooding in North and South Carolina due to hurricane Florence. Not only have 3.4 million chickens and 5,500 hogs been confirmed dead as a result of the storm flooding, but toxic waste from hog lagoons is overflowing into rivers and flooded communities causing concern of an environmental disaster. This toxic waste exists because of the inhumane way in which animals are raised in industrial animal farming.
Judith’s deck of Celtic Goddess Oracle Cards is available now. You can order your deck from Judith’s Etsy Shop. Experience the wisdom of the Celtic Goddesses!
Judith Shaw, a graduate of the San Francisco Art Institute, has been interested in myth, culture and mystical studies all her life. Not long after graduating from SFAI, while living in Greece, Judith began exploring the Goddess in her art. She continues to be inspired by the Goddess in all of Her manifestations. In recent years Judith became very interested in the Goddesses of her own ancestors, the Celts, resulting in her deck of Celtic Goddess Oracle cards. She is now working on her next deck of oracle cards – Animal Spirit Guides. Originally from New Orleans, Judith makes her home in New Mexico where she paints as much as time allows and sells real estate part-time. Give yourself the gift of one of Judith’s prints or paintings, priced from $25 – $3000.