Lord of the Animals

3 Replies, 346 Views

A surprisingly great entry - though a bit archaic with language as I believe this is from a far older paper version - on the idea of spirits/gods that represent a single animal type or multiple animals ->

Lord of the Animals


Quote:...The concept of a special type of deity or spirit that reigns over the animal kingdom is common among many Old and New World peoples. The universality of this conception suggests that formerly some form of cultural contact existed that bridged the continents. As a fundamental element in the life of the human as hunter, a lord of the animals is a familiar figure among hunting cultures, but he also occurs, in modified forms, in many agrarian and pastoral societies. In the latter instance the concept is often associated with a spiritual herdsman of wild game, a spirit analogue to human domesticators of animals. But the idea of an animal lord or spirit can be traced even further back than the development of herdingindeed, as concrete evidence shows, into the Old Stone Age...



Quote:...A distinctive characteristic of the animal lord is the fact that, despite his role as protector of wild game, he makes certain concessions when considering the needs of the hunter. To the extent that this is true, the animal lord functions as a god of the hunt, which in some cases is the predominant role. This aspect has caused many researchers to seek his origin outside a purely zoological sphere. The question remains open, however, whether or not this hunting-god aspect is connected with the anthropomorphic aspect of the lord of the animals. An ethno-religious order can be arranged as follows. In many cases, particularly among hunting peoples, past as well as present, the lord of the animals is clearly a real god, distinctively named and sovereign over his realm. In other cases, however, he is merely a game spirit, who is named solely by his association with a particular animal species. Such a game spirit is sometimes outwitted because of his awkwardness and may be characterized by unpredictability, arbitrariness, and tomfoolery (i.e., he is a trickster); in many conceptions he has the ability to transform himself into many forms and thereby confuse the hunter. In still other cases, the lord of the animals may have shrunk to a mere mythological or legendary figure disengaged from the immediate life of the society...



Quote:...To ascertain the antiquity of such bear cults, we must return to Europe. Caves in Switzerland, southern Germany, France, Silesia, Hungary, and Yugoslavia, dating from the middle to early Stone Age, have revealed small manmade stone chambers containing the skulls, teeth, and long bones of bears, arranged in orderly fashion. In addition to these bear burial sites, however, particularly important evidence of a bear cult dating from the early Paleolithic period has been obtained from a cave near Montespan in Haute-Garonne, France. In a vault at the end of a tunnel, a clump of molded clay was found that obviously represented a bear. Although headless, the animal figure was distinguishable by its legs and high, rounded withers. In the flat surface at the top of the figure, a hole was bored, apparently to support a forward-projecting pole. Instead of a clay head, which was sought in vain, a bear skull was discovered between the front legs. This led to the conclusion that the figure was a base constructed to support the head and skin of the animal on ceremonial occasions...
'Historically, we may regard materialism as a system of dogma set up to combat orthodox dogma...Accordingly we find that, as ancient orthodoxies disintegrate, materialism more and more gives way to scepticism.'

- Bertrand Russell


See also the old Shamanism thread.

Definitely a connection though I'm not sure every shamanic culture has this idea of an Animal Spirit.
'Historically, we may regard materialism as a system of dogma set up to combat orthodox dogma...Accordingly we find that, as ancient orthodoxies disintegrate, materialism more and more gives way to scepticism.'

- Bertrand Russell


Spirits of Animals, Totems, Animal Guides, and Hunting

Mongolian Shamanism Association


Quote:...The master spirit of all the hunting animals is known as Bayan Ahaa (rich
older brother). Hunters appeal to him for fortune in finding game. The
highest ranking animals of the wild are the Siberian tiger, the snow
leopard, and the bear. Buryat call the tiger Anda Bars (best friend tiger)
and pray to him for good hunting. In much of Siberia the bear is seen as a
master of the animals and revered as an ancestor. Many Siberian tribes have
special ceremonies for honoring the bear after he is killed.

Because animals possess reincarnating souls, there are many rules regarding
the killing of game so that their souls will not be offended. Otherwise,
they may become angry and refuse to return to the tribal hunting grounds or
tell other animal spirits to stay away. When a large animal is killed or a
large fish is caught, the hunter or fisherman may cry over its death to
appease the animal spirit. Hunters also apologize to animals when they are
killed, saying that they needed to take the meat and hide for their
survival. Domestic animals are also killed in a respectful manner. Heads
are not chopped off because cutting the throat injures the ami soul. The
head, throat, lungs, and heart, which is collectively called the zuld, is
the residence of an animal’s ami and should be removed from the body as one
piece. When an animal is killed for a sacrifice the hide and the zuld are
hung up on poles pointing to heaven. After bears are eaten the skull or
sometimes the whole skeleton is placed on a pole or platform in the forest.

This respect for animal spirits dictates certain rules for hunting. First,
when entering the forest one should act reverent and not laugh, run or
yell, but move gently and stealthily like an animal. Throwing sticks in the
woods is an insult to Bayan Ahaa and the forest spirits and therefore taboo
(nugeltei). Urinating or throwing rocks into bodies of water is likewise
forbidden. Animals should never be killed except for food or fur, and it
should be done in a quick and humane way. Game must be shared in the
community and not hoarded, and the carcass must be butchered in a customary
(yostoi) manner. Following these simple rules ensured the return of game
and a good relationship with the animal spirits...
'Historically, we may regard materialism as a system of dogma set up to combat orthodox dogma...Accordingly we find that, as ancient orthodoxies disintegrate, materialism more and more gives way to scepticism.'

- Bertrand Russell


The Lord of the Animals follows every step of the hunters, who never feel alone. They know they are being watched. Sometimes they stop at a tree and carve images in its bark. A snail, a flute. Always to distract the Lord of the Animals, who is captivated by those signs. The hunter then moves on, free for a while. There wasn’t just one Lord of the Animals. Various lords were known, who ruled different parts of the forest. They appeared as “composite images of animal and human, of prey and predator,” similar at times to a feathered man, an ominous Papageno. If too many animals were killed in the hunt or the rules were not observed, they would express their anger with yellowy lights at dusk and a continual roar of thunder. The heads of the animals killed in the hunt had to be hung from the trees of the forest. Otherwise it would be the Lord of the Animals who would start hunting the men.

This is how Patakuru described it: “The game hunted by the lord of the forest are the humans. His aspect is like that of humans. He is like us. As big as us. Some are male, others are female. The male lord of the forest screws women and screws men. Because he appears deceptively as man or as woman. He or she appears as our husband or as our wife, just like evil hawks. If we screw her or he screws us, we are as good as dead. If you have/are screwed, you don’t know it anymore. You forget what happened, but then you die. Only certain spirit familiars of the shamans can discover what happened and cure us so that we do not die.”

Killing involved a continuous risk of retaliation. The Lord of the Animals would always prey on humans, in the same way that humans had hunted prey in his realm. It was enough to attack in their mind, in certain particular and vulnerable places. The Lord of the Animals then began the hunt, getting wild pigs and cassowaries to follow him, in the same way that humans went hunting with their dogs. This was the balance, this was the law. That is why hunting was not enough, there had to be sacrifice.

Calasso, Roberto. The Celestial Hunter (p. 24). Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Kindle Edition.
'Historically, we may regard materialism as a system of dogma set up to combat orthodox dogma...Accordingly we find that, as ancient orthodoxies disintegrate, materialism more and more gives way to scepticism.'

- Bertrand Russell



  • View a Printable Version
Forum Jump:


Users browsing this thread: 1 Guest(s)