The lore of our UK native mammals, including those sadly extinct, as told in Druid tales and more general folk tales
Badger : is generally held in high esteem, Brocan (broc/ badger) was a Pictish name for ‘wise man’. Badger penises were given as fertility charms to bridegrooms from the brides’ father.
Bat : can be a faerie or nature spirit in disguise. If a bat becomes entangled in your hair, and leaves with a strand, you are destined to a life of eternal damnation.
Bear : has been venerated as a ‘brother’ for thousands of years; from the ancient hunter tribes in Eurasia, to modern Shamanic people. Within Druidry, the bear is regarded as the King of all Animals.
Beaver : curiously has very little lore surrounding it. Gold-mounted beaver incisors have been found in burial mounds, perhaps amulets believed to protect the owners’ own teeth.
Bison : in lore did not have a hump, but received it as punishment for being unkind to other animals.
Boar : most folk tales revolve around the boar being hunted. In contrast, within Druid lore the female (sow) symbolises generosity and the nourishment of the Earth.
Deer : in Druid lore, the Stag is one of the three oldest animals in this world. The other two being the Blackbird and the Trout/Salmon – they represent Earth, Air and Water respectively.
Dormouse : is not a mouse of course. Sadly, very little folklore exists concerning this tiny rodent, it is however said to be immune to the venom of adders.
Fox : in lore is a figure of cunning and trickery, and possessed with magical powers of transformation. It is said to carry a magical pearl, which brings good luck to whomever finds it.
Hare : is used for divination, studying the patterns of their tracks and mating dances. They carry messages from the world of the living to that of the Otherworld.
Horse : is believed to be able to detect malevolent spirits, and the skull of a horse in used in folk magic.
Hedgehog : in a creation myth, the entire world was a big lake, and it was a giant hedgehog who brought soil and sand in its needles, thus creating dry land.
Lynx : is believed to have supernatural eyesight, even capable of seeing through solid objects. As the ‘keeper of secrets’ it symbolises the psychic power of clairvoyance.
Mole : is associated with the Underworld, and a mole digging near your home is considered a bad omen. If you hold a mole in your hands until it dies, your hands will acquire the power of healing.
Mouse : in superstition, is the soul of person who has been murdered; do not undertake a journey after seeing a mouse, the trip will not be successful.
Otter : in lore there are tales of the ‘Otter Kings’ who are accompanied by seven black otters. If captured, this Otter King will grant any wish in exchange for its freedom.
Pine marten : in lore they are believed to plait horses’ manes during the night.
Rabbit : lore often presents it as a clever trickster, eventually outwitting it’s enemy or adversary. In folk magic, place a rabbit skin under your bed to improve your sexual prowess and fertility.
Reindeer : in folklore, it is the white reindeer that is the most magical, and to catch it would bring eternal luck and happiness. In the beginning there was only the Sun and the Earth, and the white reindeer created rivers from its veins, its fur became the forests, its antlers became the mountains.
Squirrel : has curiously a lack of folklore, apart from it’s association with the ‘world tree’. From the end of the Ice Age until medieval times, a red squirrel could travel the entire country thru our ancient wildwood without touching the ground.
Shrew : saliva contains a venom, but it’s bite isn’t powerful enough to penetrate human skin. It will still cause a painful rash. In folk-remedies the venom was used as a treatment for headaches.
Stoat : encountering said stoat when setting out on journey is considered bad luck, but you can avert this bad luck by greeting the stoat as one would a neighbour.
Vole : in lore, lured mariners to their doom with their enchanted song.
Weasel : in myth, weasels would hunt in packs and will even attack humans, were associated with witches, and were omens of death. In Druid lore, the weasel is a good omen.
Wildcat : has always been held in high regard because of its ferocity, and its reputation as bring untameable. A Wildcat dwells in The Otherworld, called ‘Little Cat’, it guards a vast treasure. For any would-be thieves, it transforms into a flaming arrow, reducing the thief to ashes.
Wolf : for thousands of years, indigenous peoples, including our own ancestors, conducted ceremonies during the winter months designed to stave off illness – Wolf Spirits were prominent in these.