Animal Symbolism in Celtic Mythology: Birds

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Celtic mythology is the cultural tradition of Celtic polytheism, or the worship of more than one god. Animals in Celtic Mythology are closely linked to fertility and life. They give life and spirit through meat, skin, and bones as well as connect Earth life to the spirit realms. Birds in Celtic Mythology were associated with prophetic messages and life to death transitions. Eagles were usually linked to death Gods in the same way as the crow was linked to death Goddesses. They represented intelligence, renewal, and courage. The Crow was tied to Crone Goddesses such as Badb, and to the Goddess of war or death like the Morrigan. The Raven is similar to the crow in that it is deeply associated with death deities. It has also been known as the otherworldly body for both Gods and Goddesses. Like the crow, it flew over Celtic battlefields as the deity incarnate. Birds, especially ravens and crows, usually warn of bloodshed and battle. Morrigan came in the shape of a bird to warn the Brown Bull. Deirdre's dream of three birds drawing blood foreshadowed death, and Lleu Llaw Gyffes was shedding rotting flesh while in the form of an eagle. The Irish war goddess was said to call the ravens down the battlefield to feast on the flesh of the slain. Birds can also be used to demonstrate a warrior's prowess by their method of capture. Crane symbolizes secret knowledge, patience, and longevity. Numerous Celtic myths tell us of a heroic figure or deity who was changed into a crane. Celtic mythology has both solar and underworld symbolism for the crane. It is associated with the solar deities, especially in their healing aspect; it is also depicted with weapons and battle objects.

In conclusion, the most frequently used symbols of the bird in Celtic Mythology are closely connected with the physical well being of the tribe. Divination of future events and past wisdom can be gained through proper use of animals. Very powerful opponents take the shapes of animals for...
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