(The Witches Familiar)
Spirit & Medicine
Patricia J. Martin
Highly visible in ancient mythology and highly regarded in
Pagan culture to this day, for Beltane, let us visit the Goat - that
wild and woolly, horned and bearded mammal of the genus Capra.
Goats, along with Sheep, were one of the earliest
domesticated animals, (earliest finds of this fact date back to between
6000 and 7000 BCE), so it is not surprising to often find the goat shrouded in
myth and seen as magickal. This agile and inquisitive creature has a
long list of associations throughout history, but one of his most notable ties
is with Pan, the mischievous, musical and virile nature god associated
with sexual energy, fertility and the season of Spring. Pan is a
god that rules over shepherds and their flocks, fields and
mountain wilds, wooded glens and forest groves. As a satyr, he
has the hindquarters, legs and horns of a goat.
In other mythology, the nurturing goddess, Amalthea, is often depicted as a she-goat or a goat-tending nymph. As a goat (all of whom have hollow horns), the cornucopia or "horn of plenty" that we know today and which holds the bounty of fruits and grains symbolizing fruitful abundance, was symbolically derived from her broken horn; the same horn from which the infant Zeus drank. The Greek goddess Aphrodite and the Hindu fire god, Agni the Vedic, both rode goats. In Egypt, the goat was a symbol of nobility. And Thor, the Norse god of thunder, is said to have had a flying chariot drawn by a pair of magickal goats named Tanngrisnir and Tanngnjóstr. Later, in the all-too-often realm of religious scapegoats (pardon the pun), the goat became associated with Satan - a horned "devil" depicted as having the face of a goat and sporting a small beard, which we now call a "goatee". In certain occult traditions today, the inverted pentagram is likened to the head of a goat, which is, at times, called Baphomet or Baphomet of Mendes, a "Sabbatical Goat" first drawn by Eliphas Levi.
Pan - Baphomet
So how is it that Goat transformed through the ages from a
mischievous, sexual and highly energized god, to a nurturing and uplifting
goddess, then alternately to an alluring satanic demon, and then back
again? Well, domestic goats, unlike sheep, are known to be able
to rapidly revert back to the wild if given the chance. Wild is in Goat's
nature. And wild at heart he shall remain. Those with Goat
Totem will find their own sexual and lustful behaviour increase dramatically.
There was an old superstition from the Middle Ages that said goat’s whispered
lewd and lascivious comments into the ears of the saints. So yes,
lust is Goat's middle name. But along with their sexual nature, (or
maybe because of it <grin>), goats are also very inquisitive and will
climb upon almost anything, survey their surroundings, and then poke their
nose into anything that looks interesting. In this, we too will
find a greater curiosity and independence driving us to explore new
horizons, opening our awareness and having our newly gained knowledge lending
us the ability to use to our benefit all that we learn there.
Goat reminds us to release any lingering binds of Winter, to frolic
through Spring, and to unleash our wild side as we begin to engage Summer.
For those in the Southern Hemisphere, take Goat's wisdom within to sustain you
throughout the Winter, and remember to keep your curiosity and your
wild side alive even if indoors.
While the adult male goat is called a Billy or buck
and while the adult female is called a nanny or doe, a baby goat up to
one year old is called a kid - the same slang we use today for our own
playful and mischievous children. But beyond the precocious and
inquisitive temperament of a kid lies an able sage, for even baby
goats are agile and alert right from birth. In appearance, all goats look
capable and wise beyond their years...and they are. As all goats, both
male and female, sport horns (some curved, some spiralled), and as all
animals with horns on their heads indicate psychic awareness, clairvoyance and
the ability to see into the future, Goat can aim us toward the best pathway to
our desires and can help us see how best to manoeuvre or, if need be, butt our
way through any obstacles which may lie in our path. A
goat's horns are also used to help fight off predators or in squabbles
amongst themselves, teaching us a good deal about protective measures and
defending our right to go after what we desire. Life is, after all, about
finding our truest self and heading toward what and where we know we want
The goat's main ancestral line begins with the Bezoar goat, which originated in the mountainous regions of Asia and the Middle East. Today's domesticated goats are found worldwide in a variety of colours and sizes and are used for the same reasons the ancients used them - for their milk, meat, hides and hair. A goat's milk is more easily digested than cow's milk and is used for the same purpose, along with producing several cheeses. Their meat and hides are used for edible sustenance and leather goods respectively. And their hair, a usually coarse overcoat atop a soft undercoat, the latter of which is used in the manufacture of clothing - the Angora's mohair and the Kashmir's cashmere (aka "pashmina) being the softest blends and being the most highly prized. Within these physical characteristics of the goat we find the metaphysical aspects of nurturing and life-giving nourishment (milk and meat), protective and rugged endurance (hides and horns), and yet fanciful appearance to enhance our ability to attract new mates (hair/soft "wool")... all of which aspects we will use when working with Goat medicine.
In the Zodiac, we see Goat as an integral part of the sign of Capricorn - a figure that is usually depicted as half goat and half fish, meaning half ambitious climber and half the intuitive nurturer. A popular ancient myth attached to the origin of this image is the following story: Determined to help retrieve Zeus' stolen tendons and in order to avoid the monstrous Typhon who'd originally stolen them, the goat-god Pan dove into the Nile and attempted to turn himself into a fish. But his magickal thought was only able to be half-contrived and, thus, only half of his body shape-shifted. Soon after, Pan succeeded in recapturing and returning Zeus' tendons, and in honour of his loyal deed, Zeus placed his image of the Sea-Goat in the sky. Anyone working with Goat should also study the traits of Capricorn, for their characteristics are, for the most part, one and the same. They are disciplined, determined, ambitious, opportunistic, cunning, amorous, practical, stable, steadfast, sure, protective, truthful and honourable; these being just a few of their strongest qualities. And although the Goat can also be seen as being reserved, cautious and conservative at times, it is in these traits he makes his way, steady and sure. But always along the way he will take time to play.
There are over 600 different breeds of goat, the
most commonly known being the Alpine, the Nubian, the Nigerian, the Angora,
the Cashmere, the Pygmy and the Mountain Goat. All are
vegetarians subsisting on leaves and grasses, and all are cloven-hoofed
making them able to traverse and climb rough mountainous terrain with ease,
especially the Mountain Goat. His thick coat and flexible legs make
it easy for him to jump up to 30 feet or more to ledges that are barely
wide enough for any footing at all! Goats can go where other animals
do not dare to venture. Some goats will even climb into trees to feed or
on top of roofs to take in the view. In this, the spirit of Goat
promotes flexibility and ease of movement as we enjoy the open spaces and
newfound mobility of Spring. He helps us reach for the stars, nudging
us to go after the things we most desire but that we may have once
perceived as unobtainable. As a Totem, Goat is sure to bring his own surefootedness
and steady steps to our most lofty ambitions. And if we happen to stumble,
he will pick us up and help us regain our balance and perspective.
Diligent movement and greater strength and coordination will enter our
realm as Goat nudges us toward our goals at this more active time of year.
But, of course, we will always be asked to intermittently stop and enjoy
life along the way! Wild fun and pleasure are a prerequisite to
understanding Goat and his teachings.
With Goat to guide us, it is a time to begin new
endeavours with foresight, agility, renewed strength and ever-present protection
as we climb to new heights. A time to be playful, lustful and
active as we revel in the gaiety of Spring and prepare to leap
A Blessed and fun Beltaine to all!
©Patricia J. Martin, March 29, 2009
Animal-Speak, Ted Andrews
Pari lives on the East Coast, USA, and is a shamanic witch.
Best wishes and Blessed Be
Site Contents - Links to all Pages
A Universal Message:
Let there be peace in the world - Where have all the flowers gone?
Wicca & Witchcraft
Wiccan Rede / Charge of the Goddess / Charge of the God / The Three-Fold Law (includes The Law of Power and The Four Powers of the Magus) / The Witches Chant / The Witches Creed / Descent of the Goddess / Drawing Down the Moon / The Great Rite Invocation / Invocation of the Horned God / The 13 Principles of Wiccan Belief / The Witches Rede of Chivalry / A Pledge to Pagan Spirituality
Traditions Part 1 - Alexandrian Wicca / Aquarian Tabernacle Church (ATC) / Ár Ndraíocht Féin (ADF) / Blue Star Wicca / British Traditional (Druidic Witchcraft) / Celtic Wicca / Ceremonial Magic / Chaos Magic / Church and School of Wicca / Circle Sanctuary / Covenant of the Goddess (COG) / Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans (CUUPS) / Cyber Wicca / Dianic Wicca / Eclectic Wicca / Feri Wicca /
Traditions Part 2 - Gardnerian Wicca / Georgian Tradition / Henge of Keltria / Hereditary Witchcraft / Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn (H.O.G.D.) / Kitchen Witch (Hedge Witch) / Minoan Brotherhood and Minoan Sisterhood Tradition / Nordic Paganism / Pagan Federation / Pectic-Wita / Seax-Wica / Shamanism / Solitary / Strega / Sylvan Tradition / Vodoun or Voodoo / Witches League of Public Awareness (WLPA) /
Other things of interest:
Gods and Goddesses (Greek
Mythology) / Esbats &
Full Moons / Links
to Personal Friends & Resources / Wicca/Witchcraft
Resources / What's a spell? /
Circle Casting and
Sacred Space / Pentagram
- Pentacle / Marks
of a Witch / The Witches
Power / The Witches Hat
esoteric guide to visiting London / Satanism
Unitarian Universalist Association / Numerology: Part 1
/ Part 2 / Part
3 / A
history of the Malleus Maleficarum: includes: Pope
Innocent VIII /
papal Bull /
Malleus Maleficarum /
An extract from the Malleus Maleficarum
/ The letter of approbation
Nider’s Formicarius /
Heinrich Kramer /
/ Montague Summers /
/ The Albigenses
The Hussites / The
/ Shielding (Occult
and Psychic Protection) /
Sabbats and Rituals:
Sabbats in History and Mythology / Samhain (October 31st) / Yule (December 21st) / Imbolc (February 2nd) / Ostara (March 21st) / Beltane (April 30th) / Litha (June 21st) / Lughnasadh (August 1st) / Mabon (September 21st)
Animals in Witchcraft (The Witches Familiar) / Antelope / Bats / Crow / Fox / Frog and Toads / Goat / Honeybee / Kangaroo / Lion / Owl / Phoenix / Rabbits and Hares / Raven / Robin Redbreast / Sheep / Spider / Squirrel / Swans / Wild Boar / Wolf / Serpent / Pig / Stag / Horse / Mouse / Cat
In Worship of Trees - Myths, Lore and the Celtic Tree Calendar. For descriptions and correspondences of the thirteen sacred trees of Wicca/Witchcraft see the following: Birch / Rowan / Ash / Alder / Willow / Hawthorn / Oak / Holly / Hazel / Vine / Ivy / Reed / Elder. Also see: The Willow Tree (Folk Music)
Rocks and Stones:
Articles contributed by Patricia Jean Martin: / Apophyllite / Amber / Amethyst / Aquamarine / Aragonite / Aventurine / Black Tourmaline / Bloodstone / Calcite / Carnelian / Celestite / Citrine / Chrysanthemum Stone / Diamond / Emerald / Fluorite / Garnet / Hematite / Herkimer Diamond / Labradorite / Lapis Lazuli / Malachite / Moonstone / Obsidian / Opal / Pyrite / Quartz (Rock Crystal) / Rose Quartz / Ruby / Selenite / Seraphinite / Silver and Gold / Smoky Quartz / Sodalite / Sunstone / Thunderegg / Tree Agate / Zebra Marble
Articles and Stories about Witchcraft:
Murder by Witchcraft / The Fairy Witch of Clonmel / A Battleship, U-boat, and a Witch / The Troll-Tear (A story for Children) / Goody Hawkins - The Wise Goodwife / The Story of Jack-O-Lantern / The Murder of the Hammersmith Ghost / Josephine Gray (The Infamous Black Widow) / The Two Brothers - Light and Dark
Old Masters of Academia:
(Ancient, Past and Present)
(Departed Pagan Pioneers, Founders, Elders and Others)
Abramelin the Mage / Agrippa / Aidan A. Kelly / Albertus Magnus “Albert the Great” / Aleister Crowley “The Great Beast” / Alex Sanders "the King of the Witches” / Alison Harlow / Amber K / Anna Franklin / Anodea Judith / Anton Szandor LaVey / Arnold Crowther / Arthur Edward Waite / Austin Osman Spare / Biddy Early / Bridget Cleary / Carl Llewellyn Weschcke / Cecil Hugh Williamson / Charles Godfrey Leland / Charles Walton / Christina Oakley Harrington / Damh the Bard (Dave Smith) / Dion Fortune / Dolores Aschroft-Nowicki / Dorothy Morrison / Doreen Valiente / Edward Fitch / Eleanor Ray Bone “Matriarch of British Witchcraft” / Dr. John Dee and Edward Kelly / Dr. Leo Louis Martello / Eliphas Levi / Ernest Thompson Seton / Ernest Westlake and the Order of Woodcraft Chivalry / Fiona Horne / Friedrich von Spee / Francis Barrett / Gerald B. Gardner / Gavin and Yvonne Frost and the School and Church of Wicca / Gwydion Pendderwen / Hans Holzer / Helen Duncan / Herman Slater "Horrible Herman" / Israel Regardie / James "Cunning" Murrell / Janet Farrar & Gavin Bone / Jessie Wicker Bell “Lady Sheba” / John Belham-Payne / John George Hohman / John Gerard / John Gordon Hargrave (the White Fox) / John Michael Greer / John Score / Johannes Junius the Burgomaster of Bamberg / Karl von Eckartshausen / Laurie Cabot "the Official Witch of Salem" / Lewis Spence / Margaret Alice Murray / Margot Adler / Marie Laveau the " Voodoo Queen of New Orleans" / Marion Weinstein / Matthew Hopkins “The Witch-Finder General” / Max Ehrmann and the Desiderata / Monique Wilson the “Queen of the Witches” / Montague Summers / Nicholas Culpeper / Nicholas Remy / M. R. Sellers / Mrs. Grieve "A Modern Herbal" / Oberon and Morning Glory Zell-Ravenheart / Old Dorothy Clutterbuck / Old George Pickingill / Paddy Slade / Pamela Colman-Smith / Paracelsus / Patricia Crowther / Patricia Monaghan / Patricia “Trish” Telesco / Philip Emmons Isaac Bonewits / Philip Heselton / Raymond Buckland / Reginald Scot / Robert Cochrane / Robert ‘von Ranke’ Graves and "The White Goddess" /Rudolf Steiner / Rosaleen Norton “The Witch of Kings Cross” / Ross Nichols and The Order of Bards, Ovates & Druids / Sabrina - The Ink Witch / Scott Cunningham / Selena Fox / Silver Ravenwolf / Sir Francis Dashwood / Sir James George Frazer / S.L. MacGregor Mathers and the “Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn” / Starhawk / Stewart Farrar / Sybil Leek / Ted Andrews / The Mather Family - includes: Richard Mather, Increase Mather, Cotton Mather / Thomas Ady / Vera Chapman / Victor Henry Anderson / Vivianne Crowley / Walter Brown Gibson / William Butler Yeats / Zsuzsanna Budapest
Many of the above biographies are brief and far from complete. If you know about any of these individuals and can help with aditional information, please cantact me privately at my email address below. Many thanks for reading :-)
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