Counting Wild Pigs

There is an ancient Celtic tale that speaks of a crack in the earth from which evil creatures and spirits ascend upon the upper regions from the dark and dank recesses of Hell. The Cave of Cruachan was its name, and many a story of elfin lore was spoken from the lips of this vile split between our world and the world below.


One such story tells of the pouring of wild pigs from the rift, who ravenously fell upon the land destroying everything in their wake, plant, animal and earth alike. There was nothing apparently that could stop them, not warrior nor sorcerer could hold back their hunger and after seven years of devastation not much was left.


The king and queen of the region, and some versions of the story simply say the goddess Meave, assess the problem and come up with the curious solution to count the hogs. So this they began to do, believing that the process of counting would bring order to the evil chaos and quell the relentless destruction. The pigs calmed a bit, but did not stop their disastrous activity. Amidst the confusion one of the hogs jumped over the queen’s chariot to defy her efforts to gain control over the hoard. The queen caught the pig by the leg, the leg detached, along with the whole of the pig’s skin, and the pig fell to the ground. The queen quickly bore down upon the hapless creature and pinned its snout to the blackened earth. Immediately the throng of beasts settled, and at the request of the queen, fell silent.


As most myths go, this one is hard at first to make much sense of.


In applying the wisdom of the myth to everyday life, the first thought that came up for me was the chaos often presented by runaway spending and a completely devastated personal financial situation. From my personal experience with clients, many people do not have a handle on the often ravaging and destructive forces of a financial plan gone awry. Out from the crevices of a metaphorical hell come the symbolic hogs of chaos, confusion, and evil temptations”often causing depression, anxiety and even mercilessly splitting up already fragile relationships.


How does one quell the destruction? “Count the pigs.


Sounds funny, doesn’t it? But I can’t tell you the number of times I have read in the metaphysical literature that the first step to regaining control of your run amok finances is to make a careful assessment of your situation”count your money, add up your debts, look at your self worth, and get a handle on exactly what is there, and isn’t there. Sounds simple, but amazingly few people do this first step.


But this isn’t all that is necessary”the queen had to “pin the snout” of the belligerent pig that jumped over her chariot. Pinning the snout of excessive spending, or lack of budgeting, or paying down the credit cards, may be analogous with the queen’s heroic, and decisive, action with the jumping pig.


This is the hard part.


Some powerful catalyst usually takes place in any effort to bring about positive change, or regain control, in any aspect of our life. A serious transformation typically then ensues”an alchemical process of fire, death, and rebirth. Needless to say, it can be painful.


Although my initial reaction to this marvelous ancient story was to bring to mind financial chaos and positive change in a person’s life, the moral of the story can also apply to a variety of life’s troubles. Think of how it might be applied to relationship conflicts, to depression, to anxiety. The beauty of myths is in their versatility and their ability to apply to a number of situations we may be experiencing.


So when faced with things that seem chaotic, destructive, and out of control, start to remedy the situation by counting”putting it all in order, knowing the true face of what is tormenting you. This is the first step in coming out of the corner where you may have been cowering in fear. Turn and face the issue, begin counting, and wait for the jumping pig, act decisively with your newly obtained power, and pin its snout firmly to the ground.



Todd Hayen is a practicing psychotherapist in the Toronto, Ontario, region but also conducts phone and internet (email) sessions with clients from around the world. He holds an MA in Counseling Psychology, an MA in Consciousness Studies and a Diploma in Parapsychology and Psychical Research. Most of his interests as a therapist revolve around problems of the soul, spiritual awareness, creative artistry and other deeper issues, but also practices conventional psychotherapy as well with individuals and couples. Learn more about him and his practice at http://www.toddhayentherapy.com