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For questions relating to animals in mythology and folklore, symbolism and iconography.

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2answers
69 views

What animal did Demeter transform into?

When Typhon showed up at Olympus, most of the gods fled to Egypt in the form of animals. (Wikipedia is the only place I found what form they took.) Apollo was a hawk, Hermes an ibis, Ares a fish, ...
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0answers
31 views

Which cultures worship boars?

I'm searching for a list of cultures/regions which worshiped/revered boars. I only know of Hinduism of the Indian Subcontinent, where an avatar of Lord Vishnu, Varaha is worshiped. Further, I'm ...
10
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1answer
112 views

Origin of “horses that instinctively open a vein with their teeth in order to breathe more freely”

In Goethe's Sorrows of Young Werther (1774), we find this sentence: Man erzählt von einer edlen Art Pferde, die, wenn sie schrecklich erhitzt und aufgejagt sind, sich selbst aus Instinkt eine Ader ...
9
votes
2answers
128 views

Is there a myth that dolphins were humans who chose to return to the sea?

In the Fantasy Island (1998) episode "Dreams", Michael Allen is a stockbroker who finds a mysterious woman (played by Jennifer Garner) who says this to him when they first meet. Sally: You know, ...
4
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1answer
308 views

What animals were represented in gods in ancient Egypt?

I cannot find many animals that were represented as gods and I am writing an essay on ancient Egypt.
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0answers
48 views

Tales of bats as witches' familiars?

One of the superstitions in the article 13 Halloween Superstitions & Traditions Explained is about bats: Medieval folklore also described bats as witches' familiars, and seeing a bat on ...
7
votes
1answer
360 views

Are there any deities or mythological beasts inspired by snow leopards?

I don't know a lot about the mythology of central Asian cultures (where the snow leopard comes from). I'm trying to find more information on the cultural impact the animal could have.
7
votes
1answer
174 views

Where does it says that snakes can kill birds by looking at their shadow?

I have seen several early Jewish sources (e.g. Midrash Tanhuma, Beshalah 18) refer to the idea that a snake can kill a bird by just looking at its shadow. Has this ancient belief been documented ...
8
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0answers
119 views

How are bears associated with the world of dreams?

I was looking for information on bear cults when I stumbled upon this little gem: In Native American folklore there are many tales about bears. It is highly respected as the 'keeper of dreams', ...
8
votes
3answers
2k views

Why are cows sacred in India?

Does it purely have to do with ahimsa or is it also partly based on the status of Nandi? (If Nandi is a factor, does this also bear on the protected status of monkeys per Hanuman's assistance to Rama?...
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2answers
10k views

What was the role of the bear in Norse mythology? (Are there bears in Asgard?)

The Norse æsir gods had animal helpers, but did anyone of them have a bear? Have bears been found in graves, like dogs and horses et cetera? Are there Norse illustration of bears? Some Norse warriors ...
7
votes
1answer
163 views

Why is the Indian Dragon at war with the Elephant?

Aelian records the following tale of an elephant fighting a dragon: In India, I am told, the Elephant and the Drakon (Dragon-Serpent) are the bitterest enemies. Now Elephants draw down the branches ...
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1answer
160 views

Is there any reference to this story about Inari?

The Japanese rice Goddess liked to wrap herself in a fox’s body.  Sometimes, too, She took the shape of a human woman in order to sleep with men, who had excellent crops as a result.  One of these men,...
10
votes
1answer
399 views

Why do snake (serpent) and bull often come together as symbols of deities?

The Celtic Cernunnos, the Greek Dionysus, the Slavic Veles and Vedic Shiva have snake and bull among their symbols. Why do these two symbols tend to come together? It looks to me as though these ...
6
votes
1answer
273 views

What are some examples of snakes as a source of knowledge in Greek mythology?

Wikipedia claims: A snake as a source of knowledge is a recurring theme in Greek mythology, though sometimes the snake brings understanding of the language of animals rather than an ability to know ...
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2answers
57k views

Why are goats associated with Satan?

Why is the goat often associated with Satan in various religious folklore and illustrations? What makes the goat satanic?
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2answers
3k views

Why are cats so important in Ancient Egypt?

Cats were worshipped in ancient Egypt. This can be clearly seen by the large amount of cat statues, mummified cats, ... that have been found. There is even a God specific for cats (Bastet). But why ...
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4answers
14k views

Why did Egyptian Gods have animal heads?

Most Egyptian gods have animal heads. Why is that?