Why are goats associated with Satan?

  • Why is the goat often associated with Satan in various religious folklore and illustrations? What makes the goat satanic?

  • Obie 2.0

    Obie 2.0 Correct answer

    6 years ago

    Several reasons

    The reasons for the associations of goats with Satan vary. Some are quite ancient, while others are of more recent vintage.

    The Parable of the Sheep and the Goats

    Sheep are loyal. They follow the Son of God, metaphorically a shepherd. Goats, on the other hand, are disobedient and difficult.

    When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

    NIV, Matthew 25:31-33

    We see here that goats are being used as metaphor for sin in Matthew, very early in the development of the Christian church. In setting the sheep on his right hand, Jesus gives them a favored position. The goats, on the other hand....

    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.’

    NIV, Matthew 25:41-43

    The scapegoat

    Then Aaron shall offer the goat on which the lot for the LORD fell, and make it a sin offering. 10"But the goat on which the lot for the scapegoat fell shall be presented alive before the LORD, to make atonement upon it, to send it into the wilderness as the scapegoat.

    NASB, Leviticus 16:10

    It seems like that the idea of the goat as a repository for sin may have outweighed the knowledge that there was also a goat being sacrificed to God. After all, presumably a calf or bull is one's richest sacrifice, so why not associate the goat with something else?

    A lot of the modern associations of Satan with goats come from the idea of Baphomet, though.


    Eliphas Levi, undoubtedly influenced by earlier associations of goats with witchcraft, propounded the idea of a goat-headed deity, which he identified with the Baphomet purportedly worshiped by the Templars:

    The symbolic head of the goat of Mendes is occasionally given to this figure, and it is then the Baphomet of the Templars and the Word of the Gnostics, bizarre images which became scarecrows for the vulgar after affording food for reflection to sages – innocent hieroglyphs of thought and faith which have been a pretext for the rage of persecutions. How pitiable are men in their ignorance, but how they would despise themselves if only they came to know!

    Dogma et Rituel de la Haute Magie (translated)

    It is from Levi that we received the most stereotypical Satanic goat image, a semi-nude individual with male, female, and goat attributes.


    These ideas have had a tremendous influence on modern perception of the devil as possessed of goat attributes.

    @femtoRgon - I have no problem with the image, but since I don't have any idea what sort of work environments people might be viewing this in, I figure it doesn't do much harm to give them the choice to view it (or not).

    To quote this answer: "Internalized censorship isn’t the answer to external censorship." Censorship has no place here. If the image is relevant and helpful (it is!), don't hide it. If it's not, remove it entirely. Not quite the same, but a very similar issue is discussed here, on our meta.

    @femtoRgon - I don't really see a dichotomy between "relevant and helpful" and "must be displayed outside of spoilers." After all, let's not forget the *primary* reason for spoiler markup: to hide actual relevant, useful spoilers that some people would rather not see! The post you linked is actually not referring to any sort of censorship internal to a person at all, but to censorship internal to the network, i.e. as a matter of network policy - which is in reality a quite external form of censorship.

    I'm not sure what actual "internalized censorship" would look like, but I suspect that it would involve not doing something for fear of attracting scorn. I don't think that's the same as being polite, honestly.

    Amusingly, in the question that you linked to, a community manager makes it clear that some degree of explicit censorship of material is in fact Stack Exchange policy. See here as well. I don't really approve of these policies (because they are really external censorship), but they *are* there, so saying that "censorship has no place here" could be a bit confusing to someone not totally familiar with policy. Risky if they want to post relevant pornographic video screenshots in their posts!

    You misunderstand. In this context, by external I mean external to the site (or network). That is, the hypothetical work policies. Internalizing them would be attempting to preempt those policies by adopting policies here to police content and avoid running afoul of of those "external" policies. That clarification aside though, further discussion would probably be be better housed in meta. I've posted a question (and, of course, my opinion on the matter) here.

    `let's not forget the primary reason for spoiler markup: to hide actual relevant, useful spoilers that some people would rather not see` it's ridiculous. The Baphomet portray has no genitalia, no adult, no nudity and is easily searchable in Google. If you treat Baphomet's woman's breast as an adult content you are tremendous prude. If you are superstitious then you are sharing your weird beliefs to other users, which is bad and that is not what SE was created for.

    @Suncatcher And if you call other users prudes or superstitious, or accuse them of having weird beliefs, you are violating the guidelines to Be Nice.

    No one is stopping you and FemtoRrgon from seeing the image of Baphomet. It's right there in my answer. I am merely offering a bit of consideration for the significant percentage of people who would prefer to have the choice whether to see breasts or penises, whether because they personally don't want to see them or because it could lead to issues at work or whatever. There is no point denying that those people's feelings matter simply because I don't care about the image. I am not taking away your ability to choose whether to see it, but I am helping give other people the option not to.

    Also, as for no genitalia...that's not a rod that Baphomet has there.

    haha, so stupid to downvote another question just because of feeling sored by quite fair remarks on this answer. So childishly

    @Suncatcher - What? I downvoted that question, sure, but because it seemed to equate confidence with accuracy. At first I thought it was an error, but since the question used "trustworthy" correctly in another sentence, I concluded it was intentional.

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Content dated before 7/24/2021 11:53 AM