Classification.—Animal cults may be classified in two ways: (A) according to their outward form; (B) according to their inward meaning, which may of course undergo transformations.
(A) There are two broad divisions: (1) all animals of a given species are sacred, perhaps owing to the impossibility of distinguishing the sacred few from the profane crowd; (2) one or a fixed number of a species are sacred. It is probable that the first of these forms is the primary one and the second in most cases a development from it due to (i.) the influence of other individual cults, (ii.) anthropomorphic tendencies, (iii.) the influence of chieftainship, hereditary and otherwise, (iv.) annual sacrifice of the sacred animal and mystical ideas connected therewith, (v.) syncretism, due either to unity of function or to a philosophic unification, (vi.) the desire to do honour to the species in the person of one of its members, and possibly other less easily traceable causes.
(B) Treating cults according to their meaning, which is not necessarily identical with the cause which first led to the deification of the animal in question, we can classify them under ten specific heads: (i.) pastoral cults; (ii.) hunting cults; (iii.) cults of dangerous or noxious animals; (iv.) cults of animals regarded as human souls or their embodiment; (v.) totemistic cults; (vi.) cults of secret societies, and individual cults of tutelary animals; (vii.) cults of tree and vegetation spirits; (viii.) cults of ominous animals; (ix.) cults, probably derivative, of animals associated with certain deities; (x.) cults of animals used in magic.
Bear.—The bear enjoys a large measure of respect from all savage races that come in contact with it, which shows itself in Animal cults. apologies and in festivals in its honour. The most important developments of the cult are in East Asia among the Siberian tribes; among the Ainu of Sakhalin a young bear is caught at the end of winter and fed for some nine months; then after receiving honours it is killed, and the people, who previously show marks of grief at its approaching fate, dance merrily and feast on its body. Among the Gilyaks a similar festival is found, but here it takes the form of a celebration in honour of a recently dead kinsman, to whom the spirit of the bear is sent. Whether this feature or a cult of the hunting type was the primary form, is so far an open question. There is a good deal of evidence to connect the Greek goddess Artemis with a cult of the bear; girls danced as “bears” in her honour, and might not marry before undergoing this ceremony. The bear is traditionally associated with Bern in Switzerland, and in 1832 a statue of Artio, a bear goddess, was dug up there.
Buffalo.—The Todas of S. India abstain from the flesh of their domestic animal, the buffalo; but once a year they sacrifice a bull calf, which is eaten in the forest by the adult males.
Cattle.—Cattle are respected by many pastoral peoples; they live on milk or game, and the killing of an ox is a sacrificial function. Conspicuous among Egyptian animal cults was that of the bull, Apis. It was distinguished by certain marks, and when the old Apis died a new one was sought; the finder was rewarded, and the bull underwent four months' education at Nilopolis. Its birthday was celebrated once a year; oxen, which had to be pure white, were sacrificed to it; women were forbidden to approach it when once its education was finished. Oracles were obtained from it in various ways. After death it was mummified and buried in a rock-tomb. Less widespread was the cult of the Mnevis, also consecrated to Osiris. Similar observances are found in our own day on the Upper Nile; the Nuba and Nuer worship the bull; the Angoni of Central Africa and the Sakalava of Madagascar keep sacred bulls. In India respect for the cow is widespread, but is of post-Vedic origin; there is little actual worship, but the products of the cow are important in magic.
Crow.—The crow is the chief deity of the Thlinkit Indians of N.W. America; and all over that region it is the chief figure in a group of myths, fulfilling the office of a culture hero who brings the light, gives fire to mankind, &c. Together with the eagle-hawk the crow plays a great part in the mythology of S.E. Australia.
Dog.—Actual dog-worship is uncommon; the Nosarii of western Asia are said to worship a dog; the Kalangs of Java had a cult of the red dog, each family keeping one in the house; according to one authority the dogs are images of wood which are worshipped after the death of a member of the family and burnt after a thousand days. In Nepal it is said that dogs are worshipped at the festival called Khicha Puja. Among the Harranians dogs were sacred, but this was rather as brothers of the mystae.
Elephant.—In Siam it is believed that a white elephant may contain the soul of a dead person, perhaps a Buddha; when one is taken the capturer is rewarded and the animal brought to the king to be kept ever afterwards; it cannot be bought or sold. It is baptized and fêted and mourned for like a human being at its death. In some parts of Indo-China the belief is that the soul of the elephant may injure people after death; it is therefore fêted by a whole village. In Cambodia it is held to bring luck to the kingdom. In Sumatra the elephant is regarded as a tutelary spirit. The cult of the white elephant is also found at Ennarea, southern Abyssinia.
Fish.—Dagon seems to have been a fish-god with human head and hands; his worshippers wore fish-skins. In the temples of Apollo and Aphrodite were sacred fish, which may point to a fish cult. Atargatis is said to have had sacred fish at Askelon, and from Xenophon we read that the fish of the Chalus were regarded as gods.
Goat.—Dionysus was believed to take the form of a goat, probably as a divinity of vegetation. Pan, Silenus, the Satyrs and the Fauns were either capriform or had some part of their bodies shaped like that of a goat. In northern Europe the wood spirit, Ljesche, is believed to have a goat's horns, ears and legs. In Africa the Bijagos are said to have a goat as their principal divinity.
Hare.—In North America the Algonquin tribes had as their chief deity a “mighty great hare” to whom they went at death. According to one account he lived in the east, according to another in the north. In his anthropomorphized form he was known as Menabosho or Michabo.
Hawk.—In North Borneo we seem to see the evolution of a