Symbolic Meanings of Goats
Symbolic goat meaning can be hard to tackle because there are so many symbolic implications the goat has to offer. This is largely due to its long-term presence in human life/civilization. To wit, goats are one of the very first animals to be domesticated by humans (over 10,000 years ago). As such, legend, lore and myth have logically culminated in a huge wealth of symbolic material concerning goat meaning. This page seeks to highlight deeper meaning of the goat, like: What it represents, what it means on a deeper (symbolic) level, and some attributes the goat offers as a totem/guardian/messenger.
The goat is a powerful animal totem and closely related to the sheep, in particular the ram, but his symbolism is different. Unlike their sheep and ram siblings, goats aren't particularly communal, often grazing alone and spreading themselves far apart. This is not to say goats are anti-social, symbolically speaking - but it does evoke a sense of independence. When the goat ambles onto your path, it might be a signal to contemplate your power as an individual. Is it time to separate from the herd? Launch into an independent direction? Often times, the solitary path leads us to great discovery. Goats respect distance and space. They also encourage independent adventures and explorations of high vistas for the sole purpose of personal/individual knowing.
Speaking of vistas, goats love great heights and this symbolizes spiritual ambition. Goats also love to climb and climbing speaks to us of progress and achievement. The goat will travel and live up in cliffs and mountains at impossible angles and elevations. Goats approach a precipice with ease and enthusiasm. This is encouragement to search your soul in places high and inaccessible for your sustenance. You can get there!
Symbolic goat meaning also deals with curiosity and inquiry. Goats are insatiably curious. They will poke and prod at everything within their environment. Often this prodding comes in the form of looking for weak links in their enclosures (if domesticated). Goats encourage us to engage and entertain our own sense of curiosity. These creatures are also amazingly intelligent. In the words of Alistair Cooke, "Curiosity is free-wheeling intelligence." So often curiosity and intelligence go hand-in-hand (or, hoof-to-hoof in this case, lol). The goat is a grand reminder of this, and urges us to be inquisitive.
It is a misconception that goats will eat just about anything. It is true they will browse through all manners of debris, paper products and riff-raff, but they are in fact, quite picky. What is viewed as over-consumption of any and everything, is actually a form of sensory perception. Goats have highly sensitive lips and tongues, and use these in identifying the world around them. If the goat is your totem, or you feel you've received a goat-message, take this into consideration. This aspect of the goat talks to us about sampling a little bit of everything to know more deeply the world around us. It speaks of discrimination and a willingness to explore and hold out for that which is desired.
Try contemplating these keywords as you ponder symbolic goat meaning, and see what kind of insights you may encounter...
In Greek mythology, Pan is the faun, half-man, half-goat god of the wild, music (particularly the flute), and the shepherds and their herds. He symbolizes prowess, potency, and intoxication. As a baby, Zeus was nursed by a goat mother. Goats led the chariot of Thor, the Norse god of fertility, lightning, and thunder.
The astrological sign of Capricorn is symbolized by the goat (December 22 - January 19). Capricorns are powerful philosophical signs and highly intelligent. They apply their knowledge to practical matters and strive to maintain stability and order. They are good organizers, and they achieve their goals by purposeful, systematic means. They are very intuitive, although they don't share this trait with others freely. They do not deal well with opposition or criticism but a healthy Capricorn will often shrug off negative comments towards their character. They are patient and persevering; they know they can accomplish any task as long as they follow their plan step-by-step. Capricorns have broad shoulders and typically take on other's problems with aplomb. Ironically, they rarely share their own problems and tend to go through bouts of inner gloom after a spell of dwelling on these problems. See more about astrological meanings here.
Perhaps the most poignant lesson of the goat is about sacrifice. In countless ceremonies throughout untold religions and times, the steadfast goat has suffered greatly at the hands of man. Consider the term scapegoat. This is originally a Hebrew word used when the people would attempt to cast their sins upon the animal, who was then turned out into the wilderness. Often the goat has been wrongly symbolized with the wicked, when truly the treatment of the animal represents the guilt and cruelty of ignorant civilizations.
The goat has been subject to a great deal of maligning in myth and lore. This is due to several reasons. The goat has offered infinite gestures of generosity to mankind. Food, agricultural assistance, drink, warmth, clothing...there is no end to all the goat provides. The flip-side to that generosity often comes in the form of "scape-goating" as mentioned earlier. The goat is so versatile, it even serves as a vessel for sacredness as well as a vessel for sin. Either way, the goat is often a target in ancient history - serving as a "stand in" for so-called sin, or an offering to appease the panel of gods/goddesses of any given era. This symbolic-dynamic of the goat asks us to investigate (just as the goat explores its own world with curiosity and intelligence) our ideals about wrong-doing, judgment, blame and responsibility. Because the goat is fiercely independent, it prompts us to take a look within (rather than externally) for error or wrong-doing. Rather than cast aspersions upon our fellow humans (or worse, pin our wrong-doing's on a goat and sacrifice it, ACK!), the goat gently asks us to intelligently consider our role of responsibility in our behaviors and actions. This noble creature also asks us to summon alternative methods for finding forgiveness, healing and encourages us to modify our behavior rather than continue on the path of errant actions.
In summary, the goat is an endearing, life affirming animal totem. This animal is also a great reminder of the generosity of the Mother (Nature), as well as all life's interconnectivity within Nature. It is said the goat loves the earth so much it is said he runs from the rain so as not to lose the taste of the dirt. The goat reminds us to honor ourselves, honor our loftiest ideals and keep exploring our vistas until we achieve our highest vision. With great risks come great rewards. Launch out into unchartered territory as the goat does, and odds are, provision will be granted to you every step of the way.
We hope you have enjoyed these thoughts about symbolic goat meaning. For more relevant information on animal meanings, check out the links at the end of this page. Thanks for reading!
An Important Note About Signs, Symbols and Their Meanings
Signs and symbols cultivate their meanings according to culture, context, passage of time in society as well as mass societal opinion. What's cool and highly important is that signs and symbols earn their most powerful meanings from our own personal perspectives.
This website strives to provide you with the best, time-honored information when defining signs and symbols. However, in the final analysis, "Beauty (and symbolism) is in the eye of the beholder."
Having said that, it's in our best interest to invest the time to do personal research on symbolic events happening to us. This website is just one perspective in an ocean of variety and diversity in the realm of symbolism. So dive in! There is a whole universe of deeper meanings to explore! You can start your research by clicking on the links at the end or to the side of this page. Odds are good I've got a follow-up article about this symbolic topic. ;)
As always, thanks for your willingness to learn more about the language of symbolism. It's a language that is universal and everywhere. It's super-groovy to travel with you on your symbolic path, and maybe offer a little translation along the way. Thanks for reading and exploring!