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. May's totems are Cow, Hawthorn, and Bee.
The totemic associations are as follows:
Cow (Tarbh/Bò) – fertility, prosperity, protection, nourishment
Hawthorn (Huathe) – fertility, cleansing, protection, joy
Bee (Beach) – fertility, community, sweetness, celebration, organization
bull is associated with health, potency, beneficence, fertility,
abundance, prosperity, and power. The number of cattle owned were an
indicator of wealth, a fact that is carried over in the term “Bull
market” = rising stock market. The bull also appeared frequently on
Celtic coins. Oxen (castrated bulls) were early power supply.
horns and bronze rattle (in the shape of bull’s testes) spoke to the
sacredness of the bull. Its horns are used as ceremonial drinking cups
even today. An early Irish ritual (“bull sleep”) told of the new king
when the old one died. “Gateway ceremonies” involved ritual sacrifice of
cow represents nourishment, motherhood and the Goddess. Certain herbs
are associated with cows, such as cranberry (cowberry), cowslip, and
In Celtic lands, cows have long been
considered sacred. In Britain there were sacred herds of white cattle.
Ireland was gifted with cattle when three cows emerged from the sea –
one red, one white, and one black. Brighid was reared on the milk of an
Otherworld cow and is considered the patroness of cattle. Three of the
four sacred festivals were related to cows (Samhain, Beltaine and
Imbolc) Many Eastern traditions also hold the cow as sacred.
cow is also a source of nourishment on many levels – milk, leather,
meat, horn. The fact that is contributes to much to daily life is part
of what makes it so sacred and special.
the Milky Way is also called the Cow Path, and there are Fairy Cows
called the “Crodh Shith.” Many offerings are made of milk, and the
breath and milk of the cow are considered healing.