The goat is another dualistic animal. In Greek mythology, Zeus* was nursed as a baby by a she-goat. Goat images in mythology are often associated with sexuality and fertility.
Foxes in mythology are usually quick, cunning, and sneaky. Japanese legends tell of fox spirits called kitsune that can turn themselves into people and have the powers of ple of the dualistic nature of animals, however, Japanese mythology also portrays the fox as the messenger of Inari, the god of rice. The ancient Romans regarded foxes as fire demons, perhaps because of their reddish coats, and in Christian mythology, the fox is associated with the devil.
To the Celtic people, bulls stood for strength and power. Irish mythology tells of two famous beasts, the White-Horned Bull of Connacht and the Brown Bull of Ulster. The rulers of Connacht and Ulster each boasted of the size of their bulls. However, some said that the gods had sent the bulls to Ireland to cause trouble. Eventually, the two bulls met in a fierce battle that raged across all of Ireland. The Brown Bull won but then died. The death of the two magical bulls brought abdlmatch search peace between Connacht and Ulster.
The frog appears in many transformation stories, most likely because it goes through a transformation of its own, from tadpole to frog. Another animal that undergoes a physical transformation is the butterfly, which begins life as a caterpillar, rests in a cocoon, and emerges as a butterfly to spread its wings. The Greek word for butterfly, psyche, is also the word for soul, and in Greek mythology the butterfly was the symbol of the soul’s transformation after the death of the body.
Connections. Myths, legends, and folktales often highlight the close links between people and animals. West Africans and Native Americans, for example, believe that each person has a magical or spiritual connection to a particular animal that can act as a guardian, a source of wisdom, or an inspiration. Among the Plains Indians of North America, individuals had to discover their spirit animal through a mystical experience called a vision quest. Some Native American religions in Central America include nagualism, the idea that each person’s life is linked to an animal or object called a nagual If the nagual is hurt or killed, the person suffers or dies. One myth says that the naguals fought on the side of the Native Americans against the invading Spanish centuries ago. Traditional African religions had secret societies in which men believed they took on a leopard’s strength by performing rituals that involved wearing leopard skins.
Symbols. Animals sometimes appear in myths and legends as symbols of certain characteristics they are believed to representmon phrases such as “sly as a fox” or “brave as a lion” are everyday examples of the practice of using animals to represent human qualities. The dog often appears as a symbol of loyalty in myths and legends, and the tiger stands for power and vitality. In Celtic mythology, the boar symbolized war, and its image was carved on helmets and coins. Many cultures have stories in which animal characters representing human qualities present moral lessons.
Dogs almost always appear in a positive light. Native American stories generally portray the dog as the symbol of friendship and loyalty In Greek and Roman mythology, dogs often acted as guardians; the three-headed dog Cerberus, for example, guarded the entrance to the underworld. Many cultures associated dogs with death as well as with protection. Both the ancient Egyptians and the Aztecs of Mexico believed that dogs guided the dead on their journey through the afterlife. Occasionally, dogs appear in negative roles, such as the hellhound Gram in Norse mythology or the fighting dogs belonging to the Greek goddess Hecate.