Tag Archives: goat symbolism

Wild & Tame #2

hyenaa summer of symbolism continues…

As you noticed in the previous Wild & Tame blog, the symbolism of animals  varies with culture–and often changes over  centuries. And yet some have stood the test of time.

Note: This is a down and dirty animal symbolism list—-blog-sized. If you’re reading or writing about a particular animal additional research is suggested.

Animal Symbolism: F-J

Fox: “Crafty like a fox.” No doubt the saying comes from the fox’s symbolic heritage. Sneaky, crafty, sly, treacherous–another Trickster figure. In both Native American and eastern cultures, the fox is a shape-shifter. In Japanese folklore, Kitsune can be either good or bad ( I go into a bit more detail in The Merkabah Recruit)

Gazelle: The fleet of foot creature is symbolic of grace, goodwill, and swiftness.

Goat: The  beast symbolizes fertility and lust—that’s where we get the saying “horny old goat.”  The goat is also associated with Bacchus (party sex god), Pan, and Zeus. In art, devils  or demons are  often depicted with hooves and/or horns.  But the goat has some positive aspects too–determination and nimbleness (climbing rocky mountains is difficult).

Hare: A trickster figure ( of The Tortoise  and the Hare  fame). The hare is also a symbol of fertility ( as my daughter might say “you think?”). Once a manifestation of the Buddha.

Hedgehog: Early Christians deemed the furry roll-up-in-ball critter evil. Irish lore contends that witches changed into a hedgehog so they could drink milk from cows. Native Americans saw the critter as a symbol for self-preservation.

Hippopotamus: To ancient Egyptians, the hippo was a symbol of rebirth and renewal. hippoTawaret, goddess of childbirth, was depicted as a pregnant hippo (well, if that ain’t the perfect metaphor).

Horse: Beauty, speed, nobility, freedom–the horse is associated with the sun and sky gods. The color of the horse is also symbolic. White horses are symbols of spiritual  rebirth ( Knight on White Horse). The winged-horse Pegasus is connected to the sun and represents spiritual aspects.

Hyena: Eater of dead flesh, scavenger–and, no doubt, with its weird laugh/bark—the hyena is associated with uncleanliness, avarice, and cowardice. It was once thought that the hyena could change sexes and so it became a symbol  for sexual abnormality.

jackalJackal: The desert scavenger is symbolic of evil and  destruction in India. The regal-looking creature, however, was worshiped as the god Anubis in Egypt. In the Bible, the jackal is associated with desolation.

Coming soon! Animal symbolism K-Z 

 I teach literary analysis ( must pay the bills) and remind my students to look closely at the symbolism in a novel. Why did the author include that fruit? Or name the character Neil? Why is the protagonist sitting under a pear tree? Why is her dress blue? Before jumping to any symbolic conclusions however, we look at the symbol in context of setting, history, and culture.

For more information on literary analysis click On Writing/For Teachers/ to see Elements of a novel. The Art of Fiction, and How to Read Like a Literature Professor.

Related LinksBugsFruit of the Gods; Tree of LifeSacred Spices; Foods of LifeBirds of a Feather #1; Birds of a Feather #2Gems & Jewels #1Gems & Jewels #2Lucky CharmsDemonic Animals; Wild & Tame;

 

Demonic Animals

 

black catYour neighbor’s cat is NOT a demon…well, maybe it is.

From waaaay back to Sumerian times, man has imbued animals with diabolical traits. Mesopotamian demons (animal-man hybrids on 2 feet)  and monsters ( animal-man hybrids on 4 feet) plagued folks with disease, disaster and sin. The Bull of Heaven, centaur, griffin, Asakku, lion-fish, and Imdugod are just a few.

Those demonic creatures morphed over time to become the allegorical representations of the devil in Christianity.

In art, Evil—or the Devil—is often portrayed with animal appendages like claws or hooves, or depicted as a craven beast-like creature. Below is a short list of those animals associated with Evil.

Warning: This is a post about symbolism! Before leaving a nasty response about your cat NOT being a demon you might want to read the post about symbolism.

Cat/Black cat: Associated with witchcraft and demons. The black cat was believed a gift from the devil. (They have those creepy demonic-looking eyes, too.)

Fly: A symbol of corruption and evil. Bringer of plague and disease. The Lord of the Flies ( Beezlebub is the Hebrew word ) is another name for Satan. Remember reading the novel Lord of the Flies…remember all the religious symbolism?

Frog: Associated with magic and the familiar of witches, the frog and its toxic skin is symbolic of evil doings.

Grasshopper: Perhaps derived from Aesop and his ancient tales, the fun-loving grasshopper plays around instead of preparing for the winter ( like the ant). When winter arrives, the grasshopper begs for food and shelter from the industrious ant. The ant says “no way” and the grasshopper dies. The grasshopper is a symbol of human foolishness.

he-goats: A symbol of lust and fertility. With its early links to the Greek gods like Pan ( a licentious goat-man), Dionysus (let’s get drunk & fornicate god), and Zeus ( serial cheater ), no wonder the horns ( horny?) and hooves were bestial indicators of the Devil.

Monkey: They made an evil comeback as flying goons for the Wicked Witch, but themonkey  creature is actually linked to deception and vanity. It’s considered one of the three senseless creatures—the other two are tigers ( for anger issues) and the deer ( for pining love).

Snake: It’s a no-brainer. The serpent beguiled Eve into taking a bite of the fruit from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.

Toad: A familiar of witches, the skin  secretions are poisonous if eaten. In Milton’s Paradise Lost, it is a toad that pours poison into  Eve’s ear.

Wolf: Associated with cruelty, avarice, carnality, and dishonesty.

Note: I teach literary analysis ( must pay the bills) and remind my students to look closely at the symbolism in a novel. Why did the author include that fruit? Or name the character Neil? Why is the protagonist sitting under a pear tree? Why is her dress blue? Before jumping to any symbolic conclusions however, we look at the symbol in context of setting, history, and culture.

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