In our tradition we divide the year not only by eight solar and agricultural holidays, but also by the Kalends. We celebrate twelve months of the year by the common calendar, plus a special thirteenth month for Samhain. These month cycles are associated with different totemic spirits. Each month is assigned an animal, a bird (or other flying creature), and a tree. August's totems are Horse, Apple, and Swan.
The totemic associations are as follows:
Horse (Each) – travel, power, freedom, civilization
Apple (Quert) – beauty, choices, love, inspiration
Swan (Eala) - shape-shifting, love, grace, beauty
Horse is associated with the female Divine, the land, and travel both
on the inner and outer planes. It is connected to the Sun and is a
symbol of sexual desired. Furthermore, it is associated with power and
freedom, divination, the spread of civilization, birth. Wind and sea
foam often signify the power of the Horse.
skills for hauling, hunting and battle have made it an animal that has
been a true partner to mankind in many respects. It has been connected
to head hunting due to the fact that warriors would frequently hang the
severed heads of defeated opponents about the necks of the horses. Horse
gear and/or parts, like the teeth, as well as whole horses were often
interred with their masters upon the human’s death. Horse bones found in
the foundations of houses to bring good luck, like horse shoes today.
These findings indicate a long history of the Horse in connection to the
burial rites of the Celts and other cultures.
Rhiannon and Macha are all Celtic Horse-Goddesses. In some images a Mare
holds a key to the Underworld or Otherworld. Rhiannon is seen riding
out of the Otherworld on a white horse. A common activity at Samhain and
Beltane is the riding hobbyhorses. The Horse is often a phantom
creature or provoker of nightmares, who get their name from her, as Mare
is an Irish Goddess.
The Horse is associated with
freedom because it allows us to move without restriction from place to
place. However, this freedom often comes without proper restraints,
which can lead to trouble for the rider. The connection to freedom is
also echoed in the poets’ tendencies to liken horse-riding to flying.
is another aspect of the Horse. In Ireland the kings performed a
symbolic marriage with the horse to secure their rule and connection to
the land. The Horse was then slaughtered, its blood spilling upon the
ground, and its meat eaten by those in attendance. This is a version of
the Sacred Marriage.
You can learn more about our tradition's wheel of the year through this link.