Do you know what are the most sacred animals and why people used to worship them?
Numerous animal species have been venerated by humans over time and across cultural boundaries. They are sometimes included in intricate mythology and theological parables, while at other times they are revered in their pure state. For example, domestic cats were highly valued by the ancient Egyptians, who even proceeded to mummify them upon their passing away.
In addition, mythology portrayed ram- and lion-headed gods as symbols of virtues like justice and fidelity. The Hopi people of North America still do the holy snake dance today, which entails putting real snakes in their mouths and surrounding their bodies in a prayer for rain.
Curious about what other sacred animals were venerated through the years? Let’s take a close look together. We promise a nice journey, so buckle up!
Some of the most sacred animals are dogs. For Egyptians, these animals were deities. While some of them were symbolized by wolves or dogs, others, like Anubis, were more universal and showed traits of both jackals and dogs. The underworld deity Osiris is commonly tied to the religion of canine deities, which frequently symbolize death and the afterlife.
However, in a different culture, the Hindus revere dogs as holy creatures that guard their ancestors. Dogs, as opposed to cows, are worshipped as animals in Hinduism, particularly in India and Nepal. They not only revere dogs but also accord them great importance, honoring them annually with the Tihar festival, a well-known Hindu celebration.
It should be no surprise that India has been worshipping cows and seeing them as sacred animals for centuries now. Cows were revered creatures in many civilizations, both ancient and modern. The cow is a wonderful provider for vegetarian Hindus since it produces milk and fertilizer and may be used to work fields.
For instance, they celebrate an annual event called Gopastami, during which cows are washed and decorated with flowers as a sign of gratitude since they are placid and kind creatures that merit occasional celebration.
Moving forward to a European country and its preferred animal In Greek culture, among donkeys, lions, serpents, and goats, one of the most sacred animals is the wild bull. The bull was venerated in ancient Greece because people thought it was an actual representation of the deity Zeus. This animal was considered a representation of the god Zeus, who, in several myths, changed into a bull.
People saw the bull as a symbol of courage because of its powerful physique. Furthermore, they believed that the blood had magical qualities that could both cure and give it strength, like that of a bull.
When we see snakes, we do not think of them as sacred animals, mostly because of their unusual, menacing look. However, for some civilizations, like the Hopi tribe of northern Arizona, this animal was worshipped because they thought it could bring wealth to their land. They performed a ritualistic dance in which they “wrapped” snakes over their bodies.
The ceremony takes place over more than a week. They live in a place where the climate is desertic, and to be able to survive on this territory, you must rely on having a good relationship with garter snakes, sidewinders, and even rattlesnakes. Weird, right? Because of their ability to shed skin, snakes are considered sacred animals and symbols of fertility and rebirth.
Another animal that’s been a symbol for centuries is the eagle. Eagles were usually seen as sacred animals in Hindu mythology. It’s been said that the god Vishnu had an eagle pet called Garuda who was a shapeshifter, and sometimes it took on human form.
As it carries symbols of birth and ascension, this cherished eagle protects against death and the underworld. In several Eurasian civilizations, eagles are also respected figures.
We couldn’t go further without mentioning one of the most sacred animals ever, which is the elephant. The majority of Westerners associate elephants primarily with their enormous stature, lengthy trunks, and large ears. But the elephant is a really holy animal to the people of India.
Hinduism associates the elephant with the idea of rebirth, and its mythology even has the elephant-headed god Ganesha. Elephants in the southern region of Kerala participate in marches and parades while dressed in elaborate costumes.
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Wow, this picture is definitely breathtaking! Such a majestic creature with such beautiful eyes, so strong, could slay its prey in the blink of an eye. The Koreans have a profound respect and admiration for tigers, maybe more than any other civilization. The country itself used to be called the “nation of tigers” due to its steep terrain, which is ideal for these large animals.
In Korean mythology and symbolism, tigers are frequently utilized as symbols of bravery, strength, and power. A white tiger served as the Olympics’ official mascot in Seoul in 2018!
Staying on the same line as felines, cats are another well-known sacred animal, mostly for Egyptians, who loved them as much as dogs. Why were cats so special to them? They were regarded as unique due to their magical and mystical talents, in addition to their capacity to manage populations of rodents.
Cats were so highly valued by the Egyptians that they were fed lavish feasts and dressed in jewels. Families would lament their deaths for weeks thereafter, and in certain situations, they would even mummify their corpses.
Cats were also a sign of royalty, and the Egyptians thought that if you had a cat in your house, you would be blessed with good fortune. As a symbol of their riches and power, several gods and goddesses in ancient Egypt had cat heads.
With a cat’s head, a woman’s torso, and a single gold earring, the goddess Bastet—also known as Bast—was always connected to cats. One of the several reasons why cats were revered by the ancient Egyptians was their association with the goddess Bastet.
Within the category of holy animals revered by Native American tribes in North America, wolves play a major role. They were regarded as directed guardians since they stood for bravery and fidelity.
The concept that wolves may change into humans was mentioned in Quileute’s folklore legends, and werewolves have since appeared in a variety of literary works and science fiction novels.
Though many civilizations have a unique relationship with the goat (the Romans and Syrians, for example), the Greek deity Pan is arguably the most well-known example. According to legend, the other gods were reportedly overjoyed when Pan was born with goat legs and horns.
In due course, the term “panic” was taken from his name, and the picture of a half-goat, half-man eventually came to be connected with Satan. What do you think about goats? Are they sacred animals, or are they just a symbol of evil? Tell us in the comments.
If reading about sacred animals tickled your curiosity and you want to find out more about other animals too, we suggest you check out Meet the Most Dangerous Ocean Creatures Around the USA.