We all know what “dog” spelled backwards is. Maybe that’s because our canine friends have been a part of human mythology about gods and goddesses forever.
Do we still worship dogs today? I don’t know. We feed them, bathe them, spend all our money on them, and pick up after them when they do their “business,” so maybe we do!
Here are some canine gods and goddesses who have been revered throughout time.
1. Hecate The Greek Goddess
Hecate is the Greek goddess of crossroads, entryways, and dogs, among other things. She’s often depicted as having three heads, and sometimes they appear as the heads of cows, horses, boars, serpents, or dogs, which sounds like a recipe for a headache to me.
Hecate is usually described as either being dog-shaped or having dogs with her. In fact, her approach is announced by dogs barking or howling.
Dogs were also used in Greece to guard homes and courts, so her association with entryways where dogs would sit isn’t that surprising.
2. Gula The Babylonian Goddess
Gula, also known as Bau — or Nintinugga if you like to take the long way ’round — and many other names, is one of the goddesses of the Babylonian pantheon. She’s often represented in art on boundary stones and usually depicted sitting near dogs.
Dogs were allowed to roam her temples freely, and many worshipers created dog statues to dedicate to her. Gula’s sacred animal was the dog, so it makes sense that art created for her or featuring her also included dogs.
Gula was invoked for medical incantations and was sometimes known as “the great healer.” This might be because ancient people found that allowing dogs to lick their wounds helped them to heal faster.
It’s not recommended that you let your dog lick your wounds today, but doggy licks sure cheer us up when we’re down in the dumps.
3. Anubis The Egyptian God
If you know the names of any of the ancient Egyptian gods, you probably know Anubis. He’s hard to miss with his jackal head.
Anubis is the god who brings souls to the afterlife. He’s in charge of weighing a person’s heart to find out whether they’re allowed to go to the realm of the dead.
Anubis’s association with death probably comes from jackals being spotted near graves and cemeteries. Being scavengers, they would dig up shallow graves to find food — and the thought of that makes a cemetery even less fun to be in.
4. Coyote The Native American Deity
In Native American cultures, Coyote is usually an anthropomorphic trickster god who has traits similar to the animal that you think of when you hear his name.
Legends vary widely between cultures and tribes, but he’s almost always mischievous, drawing comparisons to the Norse god Loki. Perhaps this is because coyotes sometimes make noises similar to shrieking laughter.
One myth says he impersonates the Creator; another says he told the first lie ever. He’s still featured in stories to this day to educate young people about Native American culture.
5. Xolotl The Aztec God
Xolotl is a god of Aztec mythology associated with lightning, fire, and death. He’s depicted as a skeleton, a monster, or a man with a dog’s head.
Xolotl spends a lot of time in the underworld, guarding the sun when it disappears below the world of the living at night. Perhaps to save time, he also brings the spirits of the dead with him, since he’s on his way downstairs anyway.
Xolotl helped the god Quetzalcoatl bring humanity and fire from the underworld, so he’s pretty important. So important, in fact, that a dog breed was named after him: the Xoloitzcuintli, better known as the Mexican Hairless Dog.
Your dog might not be guarding spirits of the dead, but your pooch deserves an honored place in the house. They’re better than a god; they’re family!
Do you believe your dog is related to a canine deity? Is your dog perfectly divine just the way they are? Let us know in the comments below!