Sacred and Mythological Animals: A Worldwide Taxonomy
From the household cat to horses that can fly, a surprisingly wide range of animals feature in religions and mythologies all across the world. The same animal can take on different roles: the raven can be a symbol of evil, a harbinger of death, a wise messenger or a shape-changing trickster. In Norse mythology, Odin’s magical ravens perch on his shoulders and bring him news.
This compendium draws upon religious texts and myths to explore the ways sacred traditions use animal images, themes and associations in rituals, ceremonies, texts, myths, literature and folklore across the world. Sections are organized by the main animal classifications such as mammals, birds, reptiles, fish, amphibians and insects. Each chapter covers one significant grouping (such as dogs, cats or horses), first describing an animal scientifically and then detailing the mythological attributes. Numerous examples cite texts or myths. A final section covers animal hybrids, animal monsters and mythical animals as well as stars, constellations and Zodiac symbols. An appendix describes basic details of the religions and mythologies covered. A glossary defines uncommon religious terms and explains scientific animal names.