Questions tagged [animals]

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

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3
votes
1answer
79 views

What is the origin of a tale of hummingbird extinguishing a fire in Mesoamerica or South-America?

There's a so-called story about a hummingbird trying to extinguish a forest fire, supposed to originate from South-America, of which I've been trying to find the origin - in vain. Someone knows ...
2
votes
1answer
119 views

Which ancient cults would cut out the hearts of live animals and offer them as sacrifices?

Which ancient cults would cut out the hearts of live animals and offer them as sacrifices? The Mishnah (Avodah Zarah 2:3) mentions a concept called עורות לבובין which Maimonides and other commentators ...
7
votes
1answer
66 views

Are there tales where people are turned into rats?

In Cinderella, the fairy godmother turns a rat into a coachman, but while I have read many tales where people are turned into other kinds of animals -- crows, wolves, swans, bears, frogs -- I haven't ...
2
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1answer
78 views

Are there any gods or similar beings other than Nemesis that laid eggs?

Castor and Pollux, Helen and Clytemnestra are considered twins, and may or may not have hatched from eggs laid by Nemesis after being impregnated by her father Zeus as swans https://www.theoi.com/...
1
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2answers
56 views

What is the fable character of a tiger?

In beast fables, the animals are very fixed in character to convey the meaning -- foxes and ravens are crafty, bears are strong but stupid, wolves are fierce, and lions are commanding frequently to ...
5
votes
2answers
133 views

Trying to find a hunter myth I was told as a child

When we were small children, our grandma would tell my sister and I stories at bedtime. She loved the Greek myths and Aesop's fables, but I have no idea where this particular story comes from. It's ...
2
votes
1answer
83 views

Is there a folklore belief that the spirit of a wolf comes back to avenge its death?

Isidoros Zourgos in his novel "Στην σκιά της πεταλούδας" mentions that if you kill a wolf, the animal's spirit will come back and kill you after forty days. The origin of the belief is assumed to be ...
7
votes
1answer
843 views

Where does the idea of counting crows come from?

According to Learn Religions and many astrology websites, the number of crows you see predicts the future: "Seeing just a single crow is considered an omen of bad luck. Finding two crows, however,...
5
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1answer
141 views

When did chicken become a synonym of cowardice?

Chicken is often used to mean someone is a coward. This is exemplified in the game of chicken. When did chicken first become a synonym of cowardice?
3
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1answer
92 views

Did a pagan cult remove the gallbladder of animals before sacrificing them?

Rabbi Gedaliah ibn Yachya in his work Shalshelet ha-Kabbalah (Jerusalem, 1962), p. 223 alleges that when sacrificing animals, some pagans would remove the gallbladder (מרה, marah) from the animal in ...
4
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2answers
203 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, ...
4
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0answers
63 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
220 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 ...
8
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2answers
447 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 ...
5
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1answer
8k 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.
4
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0answers
135 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 ...
8
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1answer
2k 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.
6
votes
1answer
221 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 ...
7
votes
1answer
374 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', and '...
10
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3answers
4k 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?...
15
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2answers
25k 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
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2answers
301 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 ...
5
votes
1answer
285 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,...
9
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1answer
1k 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
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1answer
429 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 ...
28
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5answers
163k 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?
26
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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 ...
31
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3answers
29k views

Why did Egyptian Gods have animal heads?

Most Egyptian gods have animal heads. Why is that?