Animal Cults & Symbolism

Egyptian Animal Cults

At many sacred sites, the Egyptians worshipped individual animals which they believed to be manifestations of particular deities. These animals were selected based on specific sacred markings which were believed to indicate their fitness for the role. Some of these cult animals retained their positions for the rest of their lives, as with the Apis bull worshipped in Memphis as a manifestation of Ptah.

Other animals were selected for much shorter periods. These cults grew more popular in later times, and many temples began raising stocks of such animals from which to choose a new divine manifestation. A separate practice developed in the Twenty-sixth Dynasty, when people began mummifying any member of a particular animal species as an offering to the god whom the species represented. Millions of mummified cats, birds, and other creatures were buried at temples honoring Egyptian deities. Worshippers paid the priests of a particular deity to obtain and mummify an animal associated with that deity, and the mummy was placed in a cemetery near the god’s cult center.

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Animal Worship

The Egyptian pantheon was especially fond of zoomorphism, with many animals sacred to particular deities—cats to Bastet, ibises and baboons to Thoth, crocodiles to Sebek and Ra, fish to Set, mongoose, shrew and birds to Horus, dogs and jackals to Anubis, serpents and eels to Atum, beetles to Khepera, bulls to Apis. Animals were often mummified as a result of these beliefs.

Cattle

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 when 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.

Sheep

Only in Africa do we find a sheep-god proper. Amun, the god of Thebes, Egypt, was represented as ram-headed. His worshippers held the ram to be sacred, however, it was sacrificed once a year. Its fleece formed the clothing of the idol. Another Egyptian ram-headed god was Banebdjed, a form of Osiris.

Goat

In Greece, Italy, and Egypt, the goat was worshipped in both goat form and phallic form (Neave 1988, p. 8). This type of worship has sometimes been said to have originated from the goat’s increased sex drive. One male goat was capable of fertilizing 150 females (Neave 1988, p. 8). The Greek god Pan was depicted as having goat characteristics, such as hooves, horns, and a beard. Along with Pan, the goat was closely related to Dionysus during the Roman era (Neave 1988, p. 8). To honor Dionysus, Romans would tear apart a goat and eat it alive. The goat was commonly associated with dark arts and the devil. This association was amplified in Europe during the Middle Ages (Neave 1988, p. 8).

Cats

During the Egyptian Twenty-sixth Dynasty people began mummifying particular animal species as offerings to the god whom the species represented. Millions of mummified cats, birds, and other creatures were buried at temples honoring Egyptian deities. Worshippers paid the priests of a particular deity to obtain and mummify an animal and the mummy was placed in a cemetery near the god’s cult center. The lion was associated with the Egyptian deities Horus, Nefertum, Ra and Sekhmet.

Hawk

According to Florance Waterbury, hawk worship was universal (Waterbury 1952, p. 26). This particular bird was “a heavenly deity; its wings were the sky, the sun and moon were its eyes” (Waterbury 1952, p. 26). The hawk is commonly associated with the Egyptian god Horus. The souls of former pharaohs were the followers of Horus and therefore, the hawk (Waterbury 1952, p. 26). Horus was depicted by the Egyptians as a human body with a hawk head after the Fourth and Fifth Dynasty, but before that he was represented as a hawk (Waterbury 1952, p. 27).

Serpent

The Ancient Egyptians worshiped a number of snake gods, including Apophis and Set.

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Associated LOST Characters

APIS (Bull)

PTAH (Bull)

BAST (Cat)

THOTH (Ibis/Baboon)

SOBEK (Crocodile)

RA (Hawk/Falcon)

SET (Snake)

HORUS (Hawk)

ANUBIS (Jackal/Dog)

ATUM (Serpent/Eel)

KHEPRI (Beetle)

MNEVIS (Bull)

OSIRIS (Bull/Ram)

AMUN (Ram)

PAN (Goat)

DIONYSUS (Goat)

NEFERTEM (Lion)

SEKHMET (Lion)

APEP (Serpent)

HATHOR (Cow)

NEKHBET (Vulture)

WADJET (Cobra)

GEB (Goose)









Symbolic Character Associations & Representations 

SATIS (Dog)

SATIS

1×06 – House of the Rising Sun

Jin was given a dog by one of his victims and subsequently gave the dog (Bpo Bpo) to Sun as a gift.

Associated Egyptian Deity: SATIS (Dog)



SEKER (Hawk)

SEKER

1×14 – Special

Walt is seen looking at pictures of birds in a book and gets upset with Brian and Susan after he is ignored. Soon after a small bird crashes into the window, killing itself.

Associated Egyptian Deity: SEKER (Hawk)




SEKER (Polar Bear) 

SEKER

1×14 – Special

Walt is attacked by a Polar Bear while searching for Vincent, on the Island. Polar Bears are symbols of “Death and Rebirth”

Associated Egyptian Deity: SEKER



HORUS (Hawk/Falcon)

HORUS

1×24 – Exodus, Part 2

The “Hurley Bird” swoops the survivors en-route to the the hatch after retrieving the dynamite from the Black Rock.

Associated Egyptian Deity: HORUS (Hawk/Falcon)




MIN (Frog)

MIN

2×14 – One of Them

Sawyer hunted down a tree frog (Symbol of Fertility) that kept him awake all night, upon finding it he killed it by crushing it in his hand.

Associated Egyptian Deity: MIN (Frog – Fertility Symbol)




HORUS (Hawk/Falcon)

HORUS

2×23 – Live Together, Die Alone, Part 1

The “Hurley Bird” appeared again during the survivors mission to rescue Walt from The Others.

Associated Egyptian Deity: HORUS (Hawk/Falcon)



MIN (Rabbit)

MIN

3×04 – Every Man for Himself

Sawyer is shown a rabbit by Ben while imprisoned by the Others inside the Hydra Station.

Associated Egyptian Deity: MIN (Rabbit – Fertility Symbol)



MNEVIS (Bull)

MNEVIS

3×11 – Enter 77

Mikhail was stationed at The Flame, outside the station he tended to several cows.

Associated Egyptian Deity: MNEVIS (Bull)



ASTARTE & RESHEP (Horse)

RESHEP

ASTARTE

3×11 – Enter 77

Locke spotted Beatrice’s horse tied up outside the Flame Station. While approaching the station Sayid passed by the horse and was shot and captured by Mikhail. During his flashback Sami & Amira are featured.

Associated Egyptian Deities: ASTARTE & RESHEP (Horse)



BAST (Cat)

BAST

3×11 – Enter 77

Locke, Sayid, Kate and Rousseau travelled to The Flame Station. Sayid approached the Station and passed by a cat (Nadia). Later after the station had been destroyed by the explosion, the cat was seen in the bushes looking at the survivors.

Associated Egyptian Deity: BAST (Cat)



SEHKET (Bird)

SEKHET

3×12 – Par Avion

Claire decided to catch a seagull in hope that by attaching a distress message to the bird they might find rescue on the Island.

Associated Egyptian Deity: SEHKET (Bird)



SERKET (Spider)

SERKET

3×14 – Exposé

Nikki (and Paulo) are paralysed by the Smoke Monster (MIB) after being bitten in arachnid form. Both are subsequently buried alive after the survivors think they have died.

Associated Egyptian Deity: SERKET (Spider)



HATHOR (Cow)

HATHOR

3×16 – One of Us

Ben brought Juliet to The Flame Station where Mikhail showed live footage of her sister in the communication room. Outside the station, they passed by a cow which he tended.

Associated Egyptian Deity: HATHOR (Cow)



GAIA (Rabbit)

GAIA

3×20 – The Man Behind the Curtain

Ben uses his pet rabbit to test the sonic fence during his mission to find his mother in the jungle.

Associated Greek Deity: GAIA (Rabbit – Fertility Symbol)



AKHELIOS (Shark) 

AKHELIOS

VDx07 – Worth A Thousand Words

After waking up inside the Hydra Station, Elliot finds a shark that has been experimented on, and removes fuses which are attached to it.

Associated Greek Deity: AKHELIOS (Shark)



POSEIDON (Horse)

POSEIDON

5×12 – Dead Is Dead

During his reign as leader of the Others, Charles Widmore rode back on a horse to the Others’ camp.

Associated Greek Deity: POSEIDON (Horse)



RA (Hawk/Falcon) 

RA

5×16 – The Incident, Part 1

Jacob is seen reading “Everything that rises must converge” while waiting for Locke to be pushed out the window, to his apparent death.

Associated Egyptian Deity: RA (Hawk/Falcon)



APEP (Serpent)

APEP

6×15 – Across the Sea

Jacob attacked the Man in Black for killing their Mother, and threw him into the Source in retribution. This act resulted in the MIB’s apparent death (in physical form) and symbolic rebirth as the Smoke Monster.

Associated Egyptian Deity: APEP (Serpent)



ANUBIS (Dog/Jackal)

ANUBIS

6×17 – The End

After replacing the stone cork in the Source, Jack awakens in the creek and stumbles into the bamboo grove. Vincent barks and runs toward him; he lays down next to him so he did not die alone.

Associated Egyptian Deity: ANUBIS (Dog/Jackal)



Various Fertility Deities (Rabbit Symbolism)

3×21 – Greatest Hits | 4×06 – The Other Woman

   

RERET (Alex Rousseau)  |  TAWERET (Claire Littleton) + OSIRIS (John Locke)

4×14 – There’s No Place Like Home, Part 3 | 6×11 – Happily Ever After

   

BAST (Kate Austen)  |  AKER (Seamus)

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