Quick Reference List for Irish Druidic Symbolism

This guide is intended as a "quickie" reference for use in such things as decorating capes, jewelry, etc. It should not be used in ritual except with caution. There are no one-to-one equations, no "system" such as in Hermetic Magic! (e.g. compass points do not form a "cross"). Many attributes or associations "turn on" only in specific contexts Those marked with "!!!" have the strongest "slants" toward the associations; in all neutral contexts will associate with those listed.

All associations are for Irish Druidism as attested in Irish language texts. Due to the Norse and Christian invasions, many of these have, in medieval folk-tales, or in modern times, drastically different associations (tuathal - counterclockwise, was associated with "tuath", "tribe" - with the idea of the tribe as the basis of society, and "countryside" - nature, not town, as the source of wealth; however, in medieval and modern times "tuatha" means "wrong-headed"). Many "NA" have associations in medieval or modern Ireland.

A final note: in both modern and ancient Ireland a black cat is good, not bad, luck. A white cat is bad luck.

CODE:

entry - % -
Extremely limited, or requires additional elements to define, or important only in specific context. (many cannot be easily given here, due to their many combinations). Unless so marked with an additional "!" these are not highly important by themselves. (as these can be ambiguous, one would not want to use them in most decoration!) In those cases where a "%" is followed by a definition, this represents only a general idea of the most frequently encountered association.

entry - !!! -
Very majorly important.

entry - N/A
not applicable, symbol is not used (the large number of these are supplied because it is as important to know what is not a symbol as it is to know what is one!).

acorn - abundance
adza - St. Patrick
alder - %
apple - love, happiness
arrow - direction, focus
ash - !!! - battle, austerity, asceticism
aspen - %
axe - separation
bag - treasure, burden, lottery
bat - N/A
bear - protection
bee - prosperity
beech - % - potency, thanksgiving
bell - Christianity
belt - % ("in my belt" means challenge)
berry (general) - health
birch - % - cleansing
black - %
blackthorn - %
blindness - % - musical/poetic ability, prophecy
blue - !!! - protection (dark blue, light blue - N/A)
boar - !!! - warrior
bodhran - %
bonfire - see fire
book - knowledge
brown - % - strength, groundedness
bull - !!! - war
butterfly - transforming
calf - sexually attractive/active young man
cape (white or natural tones, hoodless) - Druidism
cape (with hood) - Pagan, Druid
cat - %
cauldron - %-! - abundance, healing, poetic insight
cave - the Otherworld
center - see east
chalice - honor, tribute
chariot - warrior
chicken - stupidity
circle - protection
cliff - magical borders
clockwise - !!! - opening
cloud - %
cord - binding
counter-clockwise - !!! - bind, return to source
cow - !!! - female beauty, abundance
crane - danger
cross - N/A (a cross for Christianity was introduced, see cape, staff, bell)
crossroads - threshold
crow ("hoodie") - death
cup - share
deer - wilds (see also stag)
dog - see hound
dolmen - %
door - %
dragon - shadow self, guardian of inner treasures
eagle - N/A
earth - %-! - (only combined with sea/sky) binding/breaking the worlds
east (at) - stability, center
east (from) - N/A
eel - %
egg - N/A
eight - N/A
elder - shape-shifting, hosting (of Sidhe)
equinoxes - N/A
eye - see one-eyed-ness
fire - !!! - membership in tribe
five - social/mundane fullness
flower (in general) - beauty
fog - !!! - magic, the Otherworld
four - elements
foxglove – beauty
furze - see gorse
garlic - N/A (used only as food)
goat - N/A
gold - % (magically far less important than silver)
gorse - difficulty
green - % (the colour spectrum is divided differently in Irish)
grey - %
grove - "wildwood"; generally isolated trees had more power
hare - sexual potency
harp - !!! - Ireland, music as magic, bard, authority
hawk - freedom
hawthorn - quest, trial
hazel (nut) - !!! - poetry, magic, wildwood
hill - % - (isolated - authority, as part of group - NA)
holly - % - trickery
honey - see bee
horse - strength
hound - !!! - valour
hurley (stick) - youthful warrior
island - %
ivy - N/A
knife - N/A
knot (as opposed to "knotwork) - bind
knotwork - % (must be asymmetrical, ideally composed of 1 or 3 bands)
lame-ness - % musical ability
left-hand - see counter-clockwise
lightning - %
magpie - Druidic magic
mirror - reflect
mistletoe - N/A (this plant is not native to Ireland)
moon - % - night, transformation
mouse - N/A (except as "little thing")
mugwort - protection, dream messages
mushroom - N/A
nine - !!! - magic fullness
north (at) - N/A
north (from) - magic origin (not arrival)
nut (general) - wisdom
oak (common only) - hospitality, tradition
oak (sessile only) - law
one - N/A (although three, five, and nine relate to wholes)
one-eyed-ness (esp. left) - !!! - magic prowess
one-handedness (esp. left) - magic prowess
otter - % - (loosely Otherworld)
owl - %
ox - % - labour
passage grave - the Otherworld
pentacle - N/A
pentagram - N/A
phallus - %
pig - see boar, sow
pine - %
pipes (music) - %
plain - % - civilisation
plough (star constellation only) - Fianna, magical origin (see North)
plough (tool) - N/A
poplar - %
quartz - %
rainbow - N/A (rainbows are a common daily occurrence in Ireland)
raven - !!! - battle, death (% favourable)
red - !!! - war, political authority
right-hand - see clockwise
ring (finger only) - % - (on thumb for King, middle-finger for Druid)
ringfort - authority
rose - N/A
round tower - N/A
rowan - !!! - protection, magic, rejuvenation
salmon - !!! - poetic wisdom, life-force
salt - N/A
scythe - N/A
sea - %-! - (only combined with earth/sky) binding/breaking the worlds
seven - !!! - hierarchy
sheep - N/A
shield - protection
ship - %
sickle - N/A
silver - authority
six - N/A
skull - N/A
sky %-! - (only combined with sea/sky) binding/breaking the worlds
snake - N/A
solstice(s) - %
south (at) - N/A
south (from) - mortals (origin, not arrival)
sow - greed
spear - %
speckledness - !!! - Druidism, the Otherworld
spider - % (called "little wild ox")
spindle (tree) - %
spiral - see clockwise, counter-clockwise
St. John’s Wort - protection
staff (only with "cane"-like handle) - power
stag (7-tines) - !!! - mastery, kingship
stag (other than 7-tines) - % - wildwood
star (in sky) - % - night (see also plough)
stone (small, etc.) - %
stone circle - %
stone, standing - % - memorial of glorious death
sun - % - (the sun is female in Irish)
sun-burst - Fianna
swan - !!! - Tuatha de‚ Danaan
swastika - N/A
sword - % - warrior
symmetry - stagnation, impotence
ten - N/A
thirteen - N/A
thistle - N/A
three - !!! - binding
thumb - %
thunder - %
tides - %
toad - N/A
tooth - %
torc - authority, freedom
tree - no meaning by itself, see by species
triangle - N/A
trident - N/A
triskele - see clockwise, counterclockwise
twilight (esp. evening) - !!! - the Otherworld
two - N/A (all even numbers are viewed as "weak" - see symmetry)
unicorn - N/A
valerian - health
wand (hazel only) - magic
water - crossing borders
waterfall - %
wave - %-! ("Ninth Wave" only - eternal return)
weasel - the Otherworld
well (spring) - health, inspiration
west (at) - entrance (but doors were on the east - see east)
west (from) - N/A
wheel - N/A
white - barren-ness, empty-ness
willow - %
wind - %-!
woad - %
wolf - %
wren - hidden-ness
yarrow - health
yellow - !!! - thanksgiving
yew - !!! - primordiality, life/death

Copyright © 1985, 1986, 1988, 1994 Cainteanna na Luise
(May be reposted as long as the above attribution and copyright notice are retained)

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