Saturday, May 25, 2013


The domestic goat is a subspecies from the wild goat of southwest Asia and Eastern Europe. The goat is a member of the family Bovidae and is closely related to the sheep as both are in the goat-antelope subfamily. There are over 300 distinct breeds of goat. Goats are one of the oldest domesticated species and have been used for their milk, meat, hair and skins over much of the world.
Goats are considered small livestock animals, compared to bigger animals such as cattle.  recognized breed of goats has specific weight ranges, which vary from over 300 lbs for bucks (intact male) of larger breeds such as the Boer, to 45 to 60 lbs for smaller goat does (female goat).  Most goats naturally have two horns, of various shapes and sizes depending on the breed.  And both male and female goats have beards, and many types of goat (most commonly dairy goats) may have wattles, one dangling from each side of the neck.

Goats are among the earliest animals domesticated by humans.  Neolithic farmers began to herd wild goats for easy access to milk and meat, primarily, as well as for their dung, which was used as fuel, and their bones, hair, and sinew for clothing, building, and tools.  Historically, goat hide has been used for water and wine bottles in both traveling and transporting wine for sale. It has also been used to produce parchment.

Goats are extremely curious and intelligent. They are easily trained to pull carts and walk on leads.  Goats are very coordinated and can climb and hold their balance in the most precarious places. They are also widely known for their ability to climb trees, although the tree generally has to be on somewhat of an angle. The vocalization goats make is called bleating.
According to Norse mythology, the God of thunder, Thor, has a chariot that is pulled by the goats Tanngniostr (tooth-cracker) and Tanngrisnt (tooth-gnasher).  When Thor stopped his travels for the night, he would find a humble farm family.  Thor would eat and share the meat of the goats, but takes care that all bones remain whole.  Then he wraps the remains up and in the morning, the goats always come back to life to pull the chariot.  But once when a farmer's son who is invited to share the meal breaks one of the goats' leg bones to suck the marrow, the animal's leg remains broken in the morning and the boy is forced to serve Thor as a servant to compensate for the damage.

The Yule Goat is one of the oldest Scandinavian and Northern European Yule (Christmas) symbols and traditions.  Yule Goat originally denoted the goat that was slaughtered around Yule, but it may also indicate a goat figure made out of straw.  It is also used about the custom of going door-to-door singing carols and getting food and drinks in return, often fruit, cakes and sweets.

Pan is the most well known Greek Horned God who has the body of a man and the head of a goat. Pan, the bearded goat foot God leads a procession of dancing of satyrs and nymphs while he plays the pipes (flute) that bear his name.
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 patient and persevering; they know they can accomplish any task as long as they follow their plan step-by-step.

Perhaps the most poignant lesson of the goat is about sacrifice.  The term scapegoat 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. 

Positive or negative, they have long been a part of human lives.  Goats are insatiably curious. They will poke and prod at everything within their environment.  Goats are a great symbol of faith, balance, nature, curiosity, sacrifice and independence.  For the Urban Pagan, use a trash compact or garbage person like a goat.  In the 20th century, they have gained popularity as pets.


The Goat
by Aaron Fogel
If you are a goat, do you believe
What people tell you about
Goats, and eat
Tin cans?
There’s no goat that foolish.
Or is there?
The goat of the universe believed
What people told him about universes
And came into existence.
Bang!  How naive can you get?
Even the scapegoat is not as naive
As (God help him) the universe that
Agreed to exist.
A word to the wise: Don’t eat tin cans.
Don’t listen. Don’t exist.

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