In Ireland pigs were thought to have been able to see the wind. To see a pig hurrying around with straw in the mouth was an omen of bad weather, whilst to have one cross your path would bring misfortune. To avoid bad luck it was advised that the person should turn their back on the animal until it had gone. Death was thought to have been imminent to someone in the family if a pig was heard to make a high pitched whining sound. There is a strong belief too in the power of the pig to foresee changes in the weather at sea (See Mystical WWW Mystic’s Menagerie : Fish).
On a positive note, these friendly creatures when young were thought to be a good omen. The sight of piglets when on your travels would ensure that you enjoy a period of success whilst your journey continued.
Traditionally sailors have gained tattoos because of the belief that such symbols had a powerful influence on protection whilst at sea. The tattoo of a ‘pig’ with a ‘cockerel’ (See Mystical WWW Mystic’s Menagerie : Cockerel) was said to have been often used by American sailors believing that this combination would stop them from drowning. Pigs have long been known to be strong swimmers having no fear of water and perhaps this is one reason for the association with safety at sea. Saying the word ‘pig’ at sea was thought to bring about misfortune to crew, catch and vessel. Substitute terms were used such as ‘grumphie’, ‘curlie-tail’, and even ‘guffey’.
To kill a pig in a month when there was no ‘R’ in the month’s name was believed to produce bad results. The pork was thought not to keep for any profitable length of time. Killing during the summer months was sure to make the meat sweat and hence the rhyme.
‘Unless your bacon you would mar,
Kill not your pig without the ‘R’.’
Pigs were believed to carry the ‘Mark of the Devil’. This expression could have developed from the belief in how pigs were believed to be able to see the wind and cause disaster. The markings are said to be visible on the front trotters!
The pig was seen to be an important creature in Celtic folklore. ‘Twrch Trwyth’ was given by the Underworld of Annwn by Arawn to Pwyll. The gift was a huge boar and is said to indicate that there was unsettlement between the different worlds, causing battle and the death of Pwyll’s son Pryderi.