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Animals and Witchcraft

(The Witches Familiar)

Goat

 

Totem Spirit & Medicine

 By 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 to be. 

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.

The Angora goat is adorned with mohair, which can be six inches or more in length.

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.

Goat as the sign of Capricorn

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 into Summer. 

A Blessed and fun Beltaine to all! 

©Patricia J. Martin, March 29, 2009 

Sources: 

Animal-Speak, Ted Andrews

http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Goat

http://www.ansi.okstate.edu/breeds/goats/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amalthea_(mythology)

Goat, himself.

 

Pari lives on the East Coast, USA, and is a shamanic witch.

Best wishes and Blessed Be

 

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Correspondence Tables:

 

IncenseCandlesColoursMagickal DaysStones and GemsElements and Elementals

 

Traditions:

 

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 MoonsLinks to Personal Friends & ResourcesWicca/Witchcraft ResourcesWhat's a spell?Circle Casting and Sacred Space /  Pentagram - PentacleMarks of a WitchThe Witches PowerThe Witches HatAn esoteric guide to visiting LondonSatanismPow-wowThe Unitarian Universalist Association /  Numerology:  Part 1  /  Part 2 Part 3A history of the Malleus Maleficarum:  includes:  Pope Innocent VIII  /  The papal Bull  /   The Malleus Maleficarum  /  An extract from the Malleus Maleficarum  /  The letter of approbation  /  Johann Nider’s Formicarius  /  Jacob Sprenger  /  Heinrich Kramer  /  Stefano Infessura  /  Montague Summers  /  The Waldenses  /  The Albigenses  /  The Hussites /  The Sun DanceShielding (Occult and Psychic Protection) /  The History of ThanksgivingI have a Dream, the 1963 speach by civil rights campaigner Martin Luther King /  Auras by Graham Furnell - Part 1 and Part 2 /

 

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)

 

Rituals contributed by Crone:  Samhain / YuleImbolcOstara /  BeltaneLithaLammasMabon

 

Tools:

 

Tools of a Witch  /  The Besom (Broom) /  Poppets and DollsPendulums / Cauldron MagickMirror Gazing

 

Animals:

 

Animals in Witchcraft (The Witches Familiar) /  AntelopeBatsCrowFoxFrog and ToadsGoat / HoneybeeKangarooLionOwlPhoenixRabbits and HaresRavenRobin RedbreastSheep SpiderSquirrelSwansWild Boar /  Wolf /  Serpent /  Pig /  Stag /  Horse /  Mouse /  Cat

 

Trees:

 

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 /  ElderAlso see:  The Willow Tree (Folk Music)

 

Sacred Sites:

 

Mystical Sacred Sites  -  Stonehenge /  Glastonbury Tor /  Malta - The Hypogeum of Hal Saflieni /  Avebury /  Cerne Abbas - The Chalk Giant /  Ireland - Newgrange /

 

Rocks and Stones:

 

Stones - History, Myths and Lore

 

 Articles contributed by Patricia Jean Martin:   / Apophyllite  / Amber AmethystAquamarineAragoniteAventurineBlack TourmalineBloodstoneCalciteCarnelianCelestiteCitrineChrysanthemum StoneDiamond  /  Emerald / FluoriteGarnet /  Hematite Herkimer DiamondLabradoriteLapis LazuliMalachiteMoonstoneObsidianOpalPyriteQuartz (Rock Crystal)Rose QuartzRubySeleniteSeraphinite  /  Silver and GoldSmoky QuartzSodaliteSunstoneThundereggTree AgateZebra Marble

 

Wisdom:

 

Knowledge vs Wisdom by Ardriana Cahill I Talk to the TreesAwakeningThe Witch in YouA Tale of the Woods

 

Articles and Stories about Witchcraft:

 

Murder by WitchcraftThe Fairy Witch of ClonmelA Battleship, U-boat, and a WitchThe Troll-Tear (A story for Children)Goody Hawkins - The Wise Goodwife /  The Story of Jack-O-LanternThe Murder of the Hammersmith Ghost Josephine Gray (The Infamous Black Widow) /  The Two Brothers - Light and Dark

 

Old Masters of Academia:

 

Pliny the ElderHesiodPythagoras

 

Biographies

 

Witches, Pagans and other associated People

(Ancient, Past and Present)

 

Remembered at Samhain

(Departed Pagan Pioneers, Founders, Elders and Others)

 

Abramelin the MageAgrippaAidan A. KellyAlbertus Magnus “Albert the Great”Aleister Crowley “The Great Beast” Alex Sanders "the King of the Witches” Alison HarlowAmber KAnna Franklin /  Anodea JudithAnton Szandor LaVey  / Arnold CrowtherArthur Edward Waite Austin Osman SpareBiddy EarlyBridget ClearyCarl Llewellyn WeschckeCecil Hugh WilliamsonCharles Godfrey LelandCharles Walton /  Christina Oakley Harrington /  Damh the Bard (Dave Smith) /   Dion FortuneDolores Aschroft-NowickiDorothy MorrisonDoreen ValienteEdward FitchEleanor Ray Bone “Matriarch of British Witchcraft” /  Dr. John Dee and Edward KellyDr. Leo Louis Martello /  Eliphas LeviErnest Thompson Seton /  Ernest Westlake and the Order of Woodcraft Chivalry /  Fiona Horne /  Friedrich von SpeeFrancis Barrett /  Gerald B. GardnerGavin and Yvonne Frost and the School and Church of Wicca /  Gwydion PendderwenHans Holzer /  Helen DuncanHerman Slater "Horrible Herman" /  Israel RegardieJames "Cunning" MurrellJanet Farrar & Gavin BoneJessie Wicker Bell “Lady Sheba” / John Belham-Payne John George Hohman /  John GerardJohn Gordon Hargrave (the White Fox) /  John Michael Greer /  John ScoreJohannes Junius the Burgomaster of Bamberg /  Joseph John Campbell /  Karl von EckartshausenLaurie Cabot "the Official Witch of Salem" /  Lewis Spence /  Margaret Alice MurrayMargot AdlerMarie Laveau the " Voodoo Queen of New Orleans" /  Marion WeinsteinMatthew Hopkins “The Witch-Finder General”Max Ehrmann and the Desiderata /  Monique Wilson the “Queen of the WitchesMontague SummersNicholas CulpeperNicholas RemyM. R. SellersMrs. Grieve "A Modern Herbal" /  Oberon and Morning Glory Zell-RavenheartOld Dorothy ClutterbuckOld George Pickingill /   Paddy SladePamela Colman-SmithParacelsusPatricia CrowtherPatricia Monaghan /  Patricia “Trish” TelescoPhilip Emmons Isaac Bonewits Philip HeseltonRaymond BucklandReginald ScotRobert CochraneRobert ‘von Ranke’ Graves and "The White Goddess" /  Rudolf Steiner /  Rosaleen Norton “The Witch of Kings Cross” /  Ross Nichols and The Order of Bards, Ovates & DruidsSabrina - The Ink WitchScott CunninghamSelena FoxSilver Ravenwolf /  Sir Francis DashwoodSir James George FrazerS.L. MacGregor Mathers and the “Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn” /  StarhawkStewart FarrarSybil LeekTed AndrewsThe Mather Family - includes: Richard Mather, Increase Mather, Cotton Mather /  Thomas AdyVera Chapman /  Victor Henry AndersonVivianne CrowleyWalter Brown GibsonWilliam Butler YeatsZsuzsanna 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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