Pig/Sow – Animal Spirit Guide by Judith Shaw

judith shaw photoPigs, 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.

from Neolithic China

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.

from The Goddesses and Gods of Old Europe by Marija Gimbutas

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.

Demeter with Pig, 400’s BC

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.


Pig Spirit Guide, gouache on paper, 10″ x 7.5″, by Judith Shaw

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.


Sources: The Goddesses and Gods of Old Europe by Marija Gimbutas, The Pig Site, Real Pig Farming, ThoughtCo, What Is My Spirit Animal, All Totems, Good Luck Symbols, Myth and Moor,

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 website – click here. Experience the wisdom of the Celtic Goddesses!


Celtic-Goddess-Oracle-cards-by-judith-shawJudith 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.


Categories: animals, General, Goddess Spirituality, Paganism

Tags: , , , , ,

15 replies

  1. Love the mama pig with her little piglets, they look soooo intelligent and joyful.


  2. Always wonderful your posts here at FAR, so fascinating, thank you Judith. Also enjoy the way your artwork so often seems to embody a tender sort of loving kindness, like the stare down here of the mother pig looking out at us, as if to say, “and what sort of creature are you?” And so I got to thinking, “what animals create artwork?” The Internet gave me the answer that in addition to human beings there are 5 animals that create art — gorillas, seals, cows, elephants, and various bowerbirds, which themselves have beautiful, brightly colored plumage. The picture of the elephant doing some painting, was holding the brush at the end of its trunk, and looking so much like a human hand, absolutely startling.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Franz, that is fascinating. I knew that elephants create art but didn’t know about the others. While I was working on this painting I kept feeling like the mama pig was a human. Apparently pigs and humans have very similar DNA. Thanks so much for reading.


  3. Thank you, as always, for your carefully researched lore and your beautiful paintings. I add my voice to the above response from Carol and Fran about the joyfulness and kindness of your visionary images. Thanks also for reminding us of the unkind ways in which humans treat the animals they raise and the environmental havoc it wreaks. May your the lovingkindness of you work help create change,


    • Elizabeth,
      Though I am not a vegetarian I do not eat animal flesh every day. The researching and painting of animals has made be cut down more on meat consumption and be even more grateful for their sacrifice when I do. I sense a full article coming on industrial animal farming.

      I am so glad that you and many others here at FAR can see my intention with my art – to paint a world filled with beauty and love. It is also my hope that in some small way this contributes to the change we need.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I can’t add anything to what has already been said, Judith, except to add my thanks and appreciation for your gift.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I love your painting of those pigs! And they are so smart but they also bite!


  6. The pig is also one of the animals associated with the Norse goddess of fertility, Freyja. She has a pig that she rides on called Hildisvini and one of her many names is Syr, which means female pig. Just thought to add that because it shows how the pig is connected to the great goddess in many cultures. Her male counterpart Freyr is also connected with pigs and he has a pig called Guldenbuste. They are both deities of fertility and nature. Thank you for the article :)


    • All very true Liv,
      I recently learned that when I researching protective goddesses who are also generally fertility goddess for the article I wrote last month about the situation in Ukraine. I hope to delve more deeply into the Norse goddesses some day.



  1. A break from bad news – Pig/Sow Animal Spirit Guide | Judith Shaw - Life on the Edge

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