We find inspiration all over the place for our art. For me animals almost always figure into my art. When I can incorporate another one of my passions, history and mythology with my art, even better.
Growing up my favorite myths were the Norse/Celtic myths. Maybe it’s my Irish/German/ Danish ancestry coming out but those stories and those God’s always resonated with me. This series of artwork is inspired by the animals found in Celtic mythology. Each animal had a story, a place within that mythology.
Celtic Wolf: As an infant Cormac mac Airt, one of the most famous ancient High Kings of Ireland was said to have been raised by wolves.
Celtic Eagle: Lleu Llaw Gyffes a hero in Welsh stories The Mabinogi transforms into an eagle after being struck by the spear of his wife’s lover Gronw and flies away. Gwydion, Lleu’s uncle and foster father tracks him down and finds him perched high on an oak.
Celtic Boar: Boar of Benn Gulbain, this wild boar is hunted by Finn Mac Cool after killing 50 of his men, during the hunt Finn runs into Diarmait on a hilltop, the boar approaches and Finns men flee, Diarmait stays and slays the boar which also results in his own death due to a geise placed upon him as a child never to hunt boar.
Celtic Owl: After Gwydion finds Lleu and returns him to his human form he transforms Blodeuwedd, Lleu’s unfaithful wife into an owl, A bird hated by all other birds and cursed to live in the night, never to see the day.
Celtic Salmon: The Salmon of Knowledge was a salmon that had eaten nine hazelnuts that had fallen into the Well of Wisdom. The poet Finegas spent seven years fishing for the Salmon, when it was finally caught he gave the fish to the young Finn Mac Cool to cook, warning him not to eat any of it. To test if the fish was ready Finn put his thumb on the fish, burning it. He put his thumb in his mouth and gained the wisdom the salmon contained.
Celtic Raven: The Morrigan the shape-shifting Celtic Goddess of War, Fate and Death. She was often portrayed as a Raven or Crow flying over a battle field, deciding who would live or die.
Celtic Hare: The Celtic warrior Oisin hunted a hare and wounded it in the leg. When Oisin followed through the bushes it he found a door leading into the ground, eventually emerging into a huge hall where he found a beautiful young woman sitting on a throne bleeding from a wound in her leg.
Celtic Hound: One of the most famous hounds in Celtic mythology involves the Celtic hero Cúchulainn (The Hound of Ulster). Sétanta killed the blacksmiths Culann’s hound, upset the blacksmith asked him who would now guard his shop. Sétanta offered to replace the hound, earning him the name Cú Chulainn.
Celtic Bull: The Cattle Raid of Cooley is a legendary tale that tells of a war against Ulster by the Connacht queen Medb and her husband Ailill, who intend to steal the stud bull Donn Cuailnge, opposed only by the teenage Ulster hero Cú Chulainn.
Celtic Bear: The Celtic Goddess Artio was often portrayed as both a woman and a bear. The bear is also closely linked to the famous warrior-king, Arthur. Arthur’s name and emblem both represent the Bear. Celtic families would often have their own animal totem, a tradition that is still evident in the family name McMahon, which means ‘son of the bear’.
Celtic Swans: Based on the myth Children of Lir. Lir married Aoibh who bore him four children. Aoibh died and Lir married her sister Aoife, jealous of the love the children had for Lir and he for them Aoife ordered a servant to kill them. When the servant refused Aoife tried to kill them herself but could not, instead she transformed them into swans.
Celtic Horse: The puca is a shape shifting creature of Celtic folklore, which could take on the appearance of black horses, goats, and hares. Considered to be bringers both of good and bad fortune, they could either help or hinder the communities they frequent. The horse is also associated with the Goddess Epona and Rhiannon, a major figure in the Welsh Mabinogi.
Celtic Cranes: 3 cranes guard the house of Midir Brí Léith, preventing anyone from entering.
Celtic Hind: The woman Sadhbh was cursed to take the form of a deer by a dark druid of the Tuatha Dé Danann for refusing him. She was told that if she ever set foot in the dún of the Fianna of Ireland the curse would be lifted. Along the way to
Almhuin, Sadhbh was found by Finn Mac Cool and his hounds. The hounds, being transformed humans themselves refused to harm her and upon entering Almhuin she was transformed into a beautiful young woman who became Finns wife. She quickly became pregnant with his child. While Finn was away fighting the Vikings the dark druid came in the guise of Finn and tricked Sadhbh to leave the safety of the house where he once again transformed her into a hind. Finn searched for her for 7 years never finding her but finding his young son Oisin.
Celtic Stag: Associated with the God Cernunnos, a Celtic god of fertility, life, animals, wealth, and the underworld. He is pictured with the antlers of a deer.
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