Goat – Symbols
* This essay focuses on the presence of feral goats in Australia, but many of the lessons and messages here apply to goats globally.
Fire. Independence. Stubbornness. Wild nature. The inner wilds. Masculinity. The God. Sexuality. Archaic symbolism. Symbols and metaphor. Ceremonial magic. Stoicism. The magician. Alchemical healing and transformation. Scapegoat
Goats arrived in Australia in the late 1700s to be used as a food source and later as a source of fur/hair. They are now feral in Australia, usually residing in arid areas or bushland as long as they have access to water sources. It is thought that there are over 3 million in Australia. Feral goats out-compete native species for land, contribute to land erosion. Feral goats tend to live in herds, and can give birth to twins and triplets. They subsist on a varied diet which can be easily adapted to new habitats. Goats are inquisitive, intelligent animals.
Lessons and Challenges:
Goat represents the wildness of nature, for despite having been domesticated by humankind, it still tend to represent an element of independence and strength. Goat also represents our inner wildness, that which lives behind the trappings of domesticity. It is important to nurture and feed this inner wildness by letting it out sometimes, either through sex and sex magic, dance or by working with raw power in the forms of energy and ritual.
Over many decades, goat has come to represent varying aspects of the God and masculinity. Goat has been appropriated to represent the Horned God of some European traditions (including Pan, from Greek culture), and then later was re-appropriated to represent the Devil (in the New Testament, true followers were sheep, false followers; goats). Despite being one of the longest domesticated animals in existence, goat has still been chosen to represent some of the wildest and even unreliable or chaotic aspects of divine masculinity.
Goat has particular relevance as a representative of symbols and metaphor, and goat’s energy in a person’s life can often signal a need to pay close attention to symbols and metaphor. Messages may not be straightforward at this time. Also look out for archaic symbolism, or symbols that are ancient and even universally recognised.
Fire can be extremely energising, symbolising vitality and a fierce and strong sense of passion. Goat’s energy indicates this aspect of fire is present in your life. If you are a practicioner of ritual, consider turning your attention to the element of fire.
Independence is a trait that many of us seek and yearn for, and goat’s energy can help provide us with paths to access such independence. Often, even if we live in civilisation and are quite ‘domesticated’ ourselves; we are still able to access an independence of the spirit. It often requires a stubbornness or stoicism, or in other words, a need to ‘dig your feet in’ until you get what you want not only from the life around you, but also from the greater spirits in your life.
Taking time to study areas of the occult, ceremonial magic and ritual, and alchemical healing and transformation may be very rewarding at this point. It’s sometimes easy for people to view these areas with trepidation, or even flat out distaste, but ceremonial magic is simply a matter of learning how to use energy in a way to both increase your connection to the divine and the earth, and also to learn how to master yourself.
If you need a point of focus when it comes to magic and ritual, The Magician card from a tarot deck may assist, as goat energy corresponds through this energy, as well as The Devil card for those who wish to explore more about their shadow selves.
In mundane terms, watch out for scapegoat behaviour. Either someone or a group of people are treating you as a scapegoat for a situation they don’t like, or alternatively ask yourself if you are being drawn into treating someone else as a scapegoat for something that is rationally not their fault or responsibility.
The Shadow Aspects:
Those who fear or dislike goat may find that they are challenged and confronted by their own inner wildness and sexuality. Everyone possesses a virile, wild, crazed aspect of themselves which is often suppressed after years of conditioning by external forces like family, friends and media. Goat confronts us and asks us to find our truly wild and sexual nature. This does not need to be expressed through sex, but visceral physical activity (like active sports, running or primal dance) will assist in this process. Let your body communicate for you, suppressing its desires and wildness will lead to unhappiness and repression. Goat also challenges you to stop judging others for their wildness and sexuality.
Those who are being challenged by the shadow aspect of goat may find that they dislike having to interpret symbols and metaphor. They make like things ‘straight down the line.’ However, the rewards when one interprets symbols, omens and metaphor correctly can be great. Goat tells you to stop looking down the straight and narrow path, to invest more time in the symbols and omens around you. Read your horoscope, look for signs in clouds, try and see what a shape you love might mean. Take the time to understand symbols.
Like all animal helpers, this animal will only appear when right and appropriate, and cannot be forced to visit you, commune with you, or share messages with you. Goat can be a cryptic messenger in the otherworlds because of its strong association with symbols across many cultures. It may surprise some people to know that goat is as likely to be found in the upperworlds as in the middle and underworlds. Goat has connections to themes of paradise and idyllic and harmonious settings, as much as it has connections to primordial masculinity and power.
My encounters with goat have involved less dialogue, and more observation and experience of what I am supposed to learn, and what I’ve heard from others tends to suggest that goat is less talkative than some of the other energies and guides, and far more prosaic. Goat energy can be summoned in ritual to aid practitioners when using ceremonial magic or seeking to understand alchemical philosophy.