As a symbol the boar may be one of the most important historic animals found within the ancient pre-Christian religions of Northern Europe. This importance carries forward into the Heathen period of contemporary Pagan religion although many Heathens simply do not pay attention to the importance of this symbol outside of a few mythological recognitions (Freyr’s boar, etc.). Other zoomorphic figures are emphasized and romanticized above the boar, for their strength and resilience, and other desirable or admirable qualities.
Archaeological and literary remnants show that the boar was of great importance to Germanic pagans, especially within the Anglo-Saxon cultural continuum. Beowulf contains references to boar crested helmets, and excavations from England corroborate the descriptions given in the poem. Predating the Anglo-Saxon period, Tacitus writes of the Suebi whose confederation included the Anglii (the future Angles of England) that they utilize a device of a wild boar. The boar on the helm was allegedly considered by the Anglo-Saxons to be the repository for a warrior’s supernatural luck, and Beowulf alludes to the shearing of such a device from the armor to foretell the death of the wearer (resultant head injuries notwithstanding).
The boar symbol has been in my life since before I was born and holds special significance to me, especially as it has reared itself repeatedly through that time. I am benefited from having a thoroughly documented maternal genealogical history and the identified founder of my mother’s family used what the Beowulf poet would have called an “eoforhéafodsegn”, or a banner with a boar’s head design as his standard.
I am named directly for the month of March (long story), which gives me a roundabout naming connection to Mars, one of my Roman gods. Though there are other animals of greater importance and sacredness to Him, Mars received sacrifice of swine (as Mars Pater) and assumed the importance of the boar through His conflation and Hellenization with Ares.
Further it has resurfaced repeatedly as symbols within my chosen periods of history – as the legionary standard of one of the legions I studied for my undergraduate degree (Legio XX Valeria Victrix), and as a representative symbol of importance for the culture I studied for my graduate degree (unsurprisingly, the Anglo-Saxons).
To say that the boar has some meaning to me is a bit of an understatement and it brings me to the topic of this page.
As a practicing Heathen that holds wide polytheistic and animistic pluralistic views, I hold special cult towards so-called boar gods of Britain, Gaul, Rome, and Germania, which I have affectionately dubbed my “Swīn Cult”. This is a contemporaneous pan-cultural cultus which favors the qualities of the boar and the boar gods: defensibility, adaptability, resilience, swiftness, intelligence, strength, and other such attributes.
Ingui Swīnen (Ingui of the Swine) and Moccus are two of the primary deities to receive cult, and given their associations with travel and liminality (Ingui as a Mound god, Moccus with his associations with Mercury) the boar is viewed as an agent of such means. Mars Pater, Father Mars, likewise receives cult as protector, defender, and provider.
This is very much a cult-in-progress, as it were.