Animals play an important role in many cultures around the world with some beliefs dating back to ancient days, where a particular creature represented an important god, goddess, or deity. In this article, you will learn what cultures saw the pig and the rabbit as significant creatures in their culture and religion.
During ancient Egyptian times, the people saw the pig as sacred to the god Set, who appears as a pig with erect bristles in the Annals of King Sahure of the Fifth Dynasty on the Palermo Stone. Set was an ancient god who originally watched over the desert, storms, darkness and chaos. In artwork, the god is mysterious and shown as an unknown creature with characteristics depicting a variety of animals, such as a curved snout, forked tail, and the body of a canine. Pig sacrifices were made in the name of Set.
The ancient Greeks also sacrificed pigs to the goddess Demeter, who represented grain, fertility, and the pure. She is also known for rejuvenating youth and the green earth, preserving marriages, and making sure the sacred law is followed. In the Chinese zodiac, the pig is one of the twelve animals.
Other instances where the pig is worshipped, includes:
The Celts worshipped a ‘god of swine’ named Moccus, who when the Romans took over the land became known in association with Mercury. The theme of swine turns up throughout Celtic mythology. A cauldron overflowing with cooked pork served as one of the attributes of The Dagda (who was seen as a father figure and protector of tribes). Additionally, God turns a prince into a boar because of his evil ways in the Celtic tale of Culhwch and Olwen.
The Odyssey is the handiwork of an ancient Greek, who linked a magical transformation of humans into pig , a known plot technique in fantasy storytelling. In the tale, the ship crew of the antagonist finds they have been turned into pigs by Circe , the daughter of the god of sun who served as a goddess of magic.
The Algonquians , a North American Native American tribe , looked towards a ‘great hare’ as their primary deity. When the spirit Nanabozho appears in rabbit form, he is associated with the acts of a trickster. Known as Mishaabooz (“Great rabbit” or “Hare”) or Chi-waabooz (“Big rabbit”), he finds his way to Earth so that he can teach the Ojibwe. One of the first things he did was teach the people how to name all of the animals and plants on the land. In some circles, the spirit is also linked to the invention of fishing and seen as one of the creators of the earth.