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Animal Wisdom

An Exploration of Deities and Their Animals

As a pagan, I recognize the intrinsic connection that we have with our animal brethren as our ancestors did. Even in our folklore throughout the centuries deities and mystical leaders have changed shape from human to animal and back again.  Is this a literal transformation or just a reference to our close connection to the animal world? Oftentimes we feel a bond with one particular animal, again this is reflected in our deities such as Athena whose totem was the owl, Rhiannon whose animal figure was a horse, or Bastet the cat Goddess often depicted with a septum piercing and kittens wandering around her feet.

Animals have influenced our culture in a big way, from every day work where we are “as busy as a bee” to our sex lives where we imitate our animal counterparts.  With Goddesses such as Bastet who represents fertility or Odin whose animal is the wolf and encompasses all the qualities of the alpha male. It is easy to begin viewing ourselves as our animal representations. Many of us are called to our deities, and those just beginning the path often need a place to start. So why not begin with the animal you are most drawn to? If you feel a kinship with deer then you may work well with Diana the Virgin Goddess of the Roman pantheon.

Below I have a short list some of the deities most often worshipped by those devoted to the Craft today:

Anubis: God of Death, Weigher of Hearts   Animal: Jackal

Cernnunos: God of the Wild     Animal: Stag

Cerridwen: Guards the cauldron of knowledge .Patron of poets  Animal: Wolf

Epona/Edain: Fertility Goddess became Goddess of cavalrymen Animal: Horses

Freya – Warrior Goddess, Goddess of the Divine Feminine   Animal: Horses

Gaia – Protector of all animals and living things   Animal: All

Hathor: Goddess of Sexuality, Joy and Music   Animal: Cow

Horus: God of Healing      Animal: Falcon

Juno – Goddess of marriage, fair play and retribution  Animal: Peacock

Mars – God of War      Animal: Bull & Wolf

Morrigan:  Goddess of War and Death    Animal: Raven or Crow

Sobek:  Sun God      Animal: Crocodiles

Almost every deity had their animal counterparts; just as in neo-paganism today we accept that we have our own animal totem. Oftentimes our deities will call to us through these animals, so be aware while you are out, if you have not yet found your Goddess or God it could be that you are ignoring the animal signs around you. If you have innumerable encounters with the crow or raven, it may be Morrigan who would like your praise or if you find a crocodile in your back yard in New England Sobek may be looking for your attention. Either way, pay attention not to just what the deity does but their animal representation as well.