Playful, intelligent, sensitive, and affectionate, goats have been valued as livestock since they were first domesticated 10,000 years ago. (1) Known for their ability to soothe other animals, goats are even used as “emotional support” companions for racing horses! (2) For humans as well, the goat is a treasured friend whose behavior is often compared to more popular house pets like dogs and cats. The charming personality of the goat may not be obvious at first glance, but these creatures are always full of surprises. Read on to learn more about what the goat has in store!
Table of contents
- Goat Symbolism and meaning
- Goat Native American Symbolism
- Goat Eastern Symbolism
- Goat Christianity Symbolism
- Goat Celtic Symbolism
- Goat African Symbolism
- Goat in Dreams
- Goat Encounters and Omens
- Goat Mythology and Folklore
- Goat Spirit Animal
- Goat Totem Animal
- Goat Power Animal
- Goat Tattoo Meaning
Goat Symbolism And Meaning
Have you ever heard the expression “stubborn as a goat?” The goat is a force to be reckoned with. These animals are infamous for their tenacity and stubbornness. When facing a goat’s horns, this trait may seem annoying or dangerous, but it is also a sign of great fortitude and perseverance. Goats just don’t quit.
In the past few years, viral videos of playful goats have become extremely popular. Having owned goats in the past I am happy to report that when it comes to playfulness, goats are the real deal. Especially when they are young, though they never really grow out of this, goats are always looking for a good time. They love to jump, climb, chase, and run. So, goats represent fun, innocence, and joy!
Another thing that I know from owning goats is that they are LOUD. Goats are unapologetic and will always let you know what they are thinking. Hungry? Tired? Craving a good scratch on that hard to reach spot on their shoulder? A goat never holds back their feelings. Although this trait can get old (trust me), it really isn’t such a BAAA’d thing. Goats remind us to speak up for ourselves. Communication is key and we all know that the squeaky wheel gets the oil, or in this case the bleat-y goat gets the oats.
One particular group of goats, known as “fainting goats” have a genetic mutation which causes them to tense up and fall over when startled. Fainting goats’ bodies turn stiff and rigid for a few seconds whenever something occurs which scares them suddenly. These goats may represent anxiety, jumpiness, or the tendency to freeze in scary situations. (3)
Finally, despite their many virtues, goats can also be associated with their fair share of sins. Male goats have a well-earned reputation for lustiness. Their courting strategies, while successful for goats, are pretty revolting too. Male goats, or bucks, will urinate all over their bodies, faces, and even into their own mouths. This foul behavior is great for attracting a female goat, or doe, in heat but it is otherwise pretty off-putting. (4) Goats are also associated with gluttony. They absolutely love to eat and have developed a reputation for eating anything and everything. Goats also tussle for dominance a lot. This usually entails playful headbutting but can certainly become more aggressive than just that.
Goat Native American Symbolism
Domestic goats do not feature in Native American mythology because they were not introduced to the Americas until the seventeenth century. (5) Mountain goats, however, have found their way into the cultural traditions of a few Native American groups.
For some of the tribes who live along in the United States’ Northwestern coastal region, the hairs of mountain goats are used to weave important ceremonial blankets. In some traditions, high climbing mountain goats are connected with the sky and the spirit realm. Goats also serve as clan animals for a limited number of tribes. (6)
One Lenape legend describes how a kind man was rewarded for rescuing a baby goat, or kid, from its tormentors. According to this legends, the goat rewarded the man who saved him by sparing him when his entire village was killed and then teaching him how to bring them back to life. After this, the goat brought many more goats to willingly be slaughtered to feed the man who honored and appreciated their sacrifice. (7)
Goat Eastern Symbolism
The goat, or sometimes the sheep or ram, is the eighth animal of the Chinese zodiac. People born during the year of the goat are expected to be gentle, stable, shy, and filled with a strong sense of justice. (8)
People with the goat as their zodiac animal are thought to be family-oriented and most comfortable in large groups. The goat zodiac is selfless and down to earth. For men, the goat zodiac often entails maturity, but may also involve pessimism. For women, the goat zodiac sign is organized and dependable, but may be high strung or anxious as well. (9)
Goat Christianity Symbolism
In Christian iconography, goats are very often associated with sinfulness and demonic forces. Common symbols include goat demons or humanoid demons with goat horns.
Goats are mentioned as follows in Matthew 25:31
“When the Son of Man will come in all His Glory, with all the angels accompanying Him, He will take His place on the throne in Heavenly Glory. All the nations will gather before Him, and He will separate them one from another, just as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will place the sheep on His right hand while the goats on the left.'” (10)
And in 25:41, the reason for this separation becomes clear:
“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.'” (11)
The stubbornness, gluttony, and lust of the goat may have contributed to this contrast between the purity of sheep and the distastefulness of goats.
Fortunately, though, the goat can also represent some positive things for Christians. According to Christianity, like all animals, goats were created by God and should be appreciated as part of his creation.
Furthermore, goats are hard-working, earnest, and easy-going. While it is not difficult to connect them with sin, it is similarly easy to connect goats with virtuous traits.
Goat Celtic Symbolism
For the Celts, goats represent wildness, madness, and otherworldly things.
In old Irish traditions, a fairy-like creature called a “Pooka” or “Puca” roams the hills and mountains of Ireland. This beast is sometimes thought of as evil and devilish and sometimes considered to be benevolent. In most depictions, however, it is a wild otherworldly beast which can shapeshift at will. The word “Puca” derives from “Poc” which means “he-goat.” (12)
The “Poc” name is also the origin of one of Ireland’s oldest celebrations. The Puck Fair is named for the male goat at its center. Every August, in a small town in the county of Kerry, a wild goat is captured, brought into town, and proclaimed king. The new king goat is paraded through the streets and placed upon a high pedestal. There, the new “King Puck” reigns for a few days before being released back into the wild. The origins of the Puck Fair are murky, but the celebration dates at least as far back as the seventeenth century. (13)
Goat African Symbolism
Goats play a vital role in the rural economy of West Africa, especially for small-holders and livestock owners of the region.
Some West Africans treasure goats greatly because of their particular hardiness and disease resistance compared with other livestock in the region.
Goats will gladly feed on shrubs, weeds, and plants that most other domestic animals cannot. Therefore, their grazing preferences make them a low-maintenance choice for livestock holders.
Goat In Dreams
The appearance of a goat in your dream could refer to several things, but the goat dream meaning per individual depends on what he/she sees.
Generally, the goat symbolically represents ideas relating to abundance, modesty, success in solitude, free spirit, and resilience.
It is perhaps highly likely that a goat coming into your dream could be an indication of a good time in your life. It could represent opportunities coming forth or of the time being favorable for achieving something.
If you dream of a happy or white goat, like the white goat symbolism could refer to financial success in your life. Furthermore, it can also translate to materialistic fortune or good luck in all spheres of life.
Goats in dreams could also be symbolic of vitality and strength or represent the intuitive or curious side in you. Since goats associate deeply with humans due to common instincts, they reflect elements of our own nature when they appear in our dreams.
Seeing a black goat in a dream is indicative of impending trouble or an unusual challenge you will have to face. It is generally not overly negative, but it may be a confusing time in your life.
The black goat meaning, like every other black animal, is generally unfavorable or unsettling. The black goat symbolism teaches you to explore and embrace your uniqueness and strangeness.
Goat Encounters And Omens
A goat encounter can be a great reminder to take a moment and reflect. Are you on the correct path? Have you chosen this path willingly and are you still happy with it? Has stubbornness kept you where you are? Consider the strengths and flaws of the goat and use them to examine your circumstances.
Goat encounters can remind us to persevere, but be sure you aren’t just digging your heels in for the sake of it. A goat encounter is a reminder to be intentional about your choices.
Goats can also cross our paths as reminders to blow off steam once in a while. Goats are playful and energetic and can be seen as signs to enjoy life and find opportunities to play games and have fun.
Goat Mythology And Folklore
Goat symbolism in literature is not an uncommon genre. If you read some of the folklore concerning goats around the world, you’d see the various roles goats have played since ancient history.
Thor is the Scandinavian god of thunder in literature, and the chariot he held most sacred was pulled by a team of goats. Thor’s goat, Heidrun, provided heavenly mead, the drink the gods consumed. (14)
Other pieces of literature and folklore represent the goat as a stubborn and determined reflection of mankind.
In Greek mythology, goats are sacred to Artemis, the goddess of the hunt. Greek myths also feature half-man half-goat creatures called Satyr. Pan, the god of the wild, is often depicted as a half-goat humanoid.
Goat Spirit Animal
People with the goat as their spirit animal are affectionate, easy-going, determined, and independent. The goat spirit animal likes to forge its own path forward.
If the goat is your spirit animal, look to this creature as a symbol of your determination and resolve. In these areas, the goat spirit is unmatched.
People with the goat spirit animal are young at heart and love to discover new things and enjoy adventures. While they may be hard-headed at times, people with the goat spirit are loving friends and devoted companions.
Goat Totem Animal
What does the goat totem tell you? What must you do if yours is the goat animal totem? It tells you to never doubt yourself and your potential.
It teaches you to empower yourself with the knowledge that you can do all things, and no hardships will break you. No matter how hopeless a situation seems, never fail to believe that you will always land safely on your feet.
If a project or time seems unfruitful now, patience and perseverance will bear fruits in the future. You only have to call upon the goat’s limitless well of determination and fortitude.
The goat totem, especially the mountain goat totem, reminds you to be fearless and confident. When climbing mountains, the worst thing you can do is look down. Sometimes difficult situations require a leap of faith, but you will succeed in the end so long as you’re on the correct path.
Goat Tattoo Meaning
Goat tattoos can symbolize power, libido, vital force, and also fertility. However, various figures and designs featuring goats in tattoos mean different things.
The goat skull tattoo refers to the dark arts, and you will find this common in people who take an interest in occult imagery.
The buck symbolism spreads positive messages of innocence, compassion, kindness, gentleness, grace, motherhood, femininity, subtlety, peace, and adventure.
Goat symbolism is diverse and far-reaching. Many of the most prevalent symbolic instances of goats are negative, but this does not accurately reflect the character of this animal. Goats are smart, capable, funny, playful, and incredibly charming. It is no surprise that if one digs a bit deeper, the many wonderful qualities of the goat can be found in human cultures around the world.