Weird Nature
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Animals That Have Been Worshipped Throughout History

August 24, 2020 15 items

Throughout history and across cultures, humans have worshipped many different kinds of animals. Sometimes they are considered sacred in their natural form, where other times they are involved in complex mythologies and religious parables. The ancient Egyptians, for example, revered household cats, even going to the extent of mummifying them after death. At the same time, ram and lion-headed gods served in folklore and represented qualities such as loyalty and justice. In modern times, the Hopi tribe of North America still to this day practice the sacred snake dance, which involves putting live snakes in their mouths and wrapping them around their bodies to pray for rain. If you're looking for some animal worship that's a little less extreme, though, you might consider attending Nepal's annual dog festival!

Whether you're interested in ancient worship or contemporary pet love, there's certainly an animal on this list that everyone can find sacred.

  • Dogs

    Many people "worship" dogs in the form of tummy scratches, treats, and shared doggo memes, but the Nepalese dog festival takes it to the next level. Every year, Hindus in Nepal celebrate dogs with a five-day festival that involves placing a colorful marking (a Tika) on their foreheads. To these Hindus, dogs act as messengers for the God of death, so celebrating their canines is a means to keep peace with death itself.

  • Cows

    Across many cultures - both present and ancient - the cow has been considered a sacred creature. For the Hindus (who are vegetarian), the cow is a great provider in terms of its milk production, fertilizer, and usefulness in tilling fields. During Gopastami, an annual holiday celebrating the cow, these bovines are washed and adorned with flowers to show appreciation. Cows are docile and giving animals; they really do deserve a party every once in awhile.

  • Snakes

    One of the most fascinating examples of a culture treating snakes as a sacred animal comes from the Hopi tribe of northern Arizona. In a ceremony meant to bring rainfall to the dry, desert climate, the Hopi (still to this day) perform a "snake dance" in which they wrap live snakes around their bodies and hold them in their mouths. The ritual lasts well over a week, and during the rituals. these North American natives find a connection to garter snakes, sidewinders, and even rattlesnakes in order to sustain their land.

  • Cats

    The ancient Egyptians really loved cats. They were thought to be special not only because of their ability to control vermin populations, but also because of magical and mystical abilities. The Egyptians revered these felines so much that they would dress them in jewels and feed them decadent meals. After they died, families would mourn their loss for weeks, and in some cases even mummify their bodies.