Animal Religion

"In the Hour before time began, Meerclar Allmother came out of the darkness to the cold earth. She was black, and as furry as all the world come together to be fur."

As far as science can tell, the only modern species that has a concept of religion are humans. In fiction however a common way to anthropomorphise Nearly Normal Animal and Partially Civilized Animal characters is to have them have their own gods.

Compare to Robot Religion.

Examples:

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     Comic Books 

     Fan Works 
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • Princess Luna and and Princess Celestia are deemed gods by fanon. The cartoon itself doesn't imply it besides characters sometimes using their names in vain, such as "As Celestia is my witness..." and "Thank Celestia". For three seasons they were the only alicorns (and according to Lauren Faust were meant to be the only ones) and even compared to Twilight and Cadance are unusual. They're over 1000 years old (though the series implies they're long lived and slow aging, rather than immortal), are taller than other alicorns, and have flowing manes. Fanon has assumed they're naturally born alicorn and thus are functionally immortal gods, while 'ascended alicorn' age normally and die of old age. Cadance (who is canonically ascended) is occasionally dubbed a "goddess of love" though and many fanworks portray her as similarly immortal.
    • If Celestia and Luna aren't gods to ponies, often the ponified incarnations of Lauren Faust (the creator of Friendship Is Magic) and Bonnie Zacherle (the creator of My Little Pony) will be instead.

     Film — Animation 
  • Happy Feet. The deity of Emperor Land is the Great Guin, who is said to be responsible for bestowing the songs in the penguins' souls, and blesses them with fish in their bellies. Noah and the Elders are presented as authority figures, who profess the workings of the Great Guin, and say that only he has the power to give and take away their fish; they also believe that Mumble is a bad influence among them, because his passion for dancing and lack of singing abilities, "Ain't penguin," and that it's his dancing that's angering the Great Guin and depriving them of their fish. When Mumble discovers "aliens" (humans) are actually responsible for the lack of fish, Noah and the Elders dismiss his claims as crazy talk. Memphis is also convinced that Mumble's happy feet and lack of singing skills are punishment from the Great Guin for idolizing Norma Jean rather than singing praise to him during the time of great darkness and dropping Mumble's egg.
  • A really creepy example appears in The Good Dinosaur; the film's antagonists are a flock of pterosaurs who profess to a strange pseudo-religion that deifies the weather, their credo being "the storm provides". What the storm provides to them is food—namely cute little critters (some of whom are sentient) that get injured during the storms. Their devotion to this weird Cargo Cult only makes them more disturbing.

     Film — Live-Action 
  • In the original Planet of the Apes series of films, the apes believe that God created the Ape in his own image, and the apes have a set of Sacred Scrolls, which contain stories and proverbs, including a story about an ape named Proteus chaining a man to a rock, and a verse warning the apes to "beware the beast man".
  • The elephants from The Jungle Book (2016) seem to be treated like gods, for Bagheera says that all animals bow before the elephants as they march by. He even tells Mowgli a short legend about how the elephants created the jungle with their tusks, trunks, and sheer strength.

     Franchises 
  • The Lion King:
    • "The Great Spirit" is referenced in licensed comics. He is the Prideland lion's God and is depicted as an elderly lion with white eyes.
    • A Cut Song from a very early version of the first film involved Sarabi singing a lullaby about the Lion On The Moon to Simba after an encounter with hyenas. According to her, He created lions.
    • Though downplayed, the lions in the films themselves do seem to have a concept of the afterlife. At minimum the previous kings watch over everyone after they die.

     Literature 
  • Richard Adams' book Watership Down details the belief system of rabbits. Frith, the sun, made the all the stars and the Earth, and all the animals thereon. Frith's second-in-command is Inle, the moon, tasked with collecting the dead and meting out punishments. The first rabbit angered Frith with his arrogance, and was punished by becoming prey to oodles of predators, which made him El-ahrairah, the Prince With A Thousand Enemies. In the lapine world, El-ahrairah functions like a combination Adam and Hercules, and those rabbits that excel at survival skills are welcomed in the afterlife to El-ahrairah's inner circle. Much of this is depicted in the 1978 Animated Adaptation by Nepenthe Studios.
  • Warrior Cats:
    • The four Clans of cats have a version of ancestor worship. There are two types of afterlifes for warriors (though what happens to non-warrior affiliated cats isn't specified). If cats follow the Warrior Code and live honorable lives then they go to StarClan. StarClan is described as a starry forest where cats live together no matter the Clan they were from in life, have no responsibilities, and have endless amounts of prey to hunt. In StarClan, cats return to the age they were at their most happiest and use the name of the highest rank they were, or that they would have received if they lived (for example, Smallstar died as a kit but uses that name because he would have become a leader if he hadn't died). StarClan grants the Clan leaders their nine lives, and also give visions and direction to the Clans' medicine cats. Spirits stay in StarClan until they're completely forgotten Afterwards they either stop existing, turn into stars, or are transported into a new StarClan. If a cat is killed in StarClan, then they cease to exist. Warriors who dishonor the Warrior Code instead go to the Place of No Stars (informally known as the "Dark Forest"). The Place of No Stars is an antithesis to StarClan. There are no prey to eat (however the cats can't feel hunger anyway) and cats live in complete silence and solitude. It is a perpetually cold and foggy forest with extremely tall trees that can't be seen over and no stars in the sky.
    • Cats from the Tribe of Rushing Water don't go to StarClan. They instead have their own afterlife—the Tribe of Endless Hunting. Unlike StarClan cats, they only give living cats messages through omens rather than dreams. Tribe of Endless Hunting cats also revert to the age where they were most happiest, but unlike StarClan cats they keep all the wounds and disabilities they had in life.
    • Cats display some spiritual rituals, such burying their dead and burying their preys bones as a sign of respect.
  • Subverted in Redwall. Despite the titular Redwall being an abbey, having an abbot/abbess and various characters referred to as Brother/Sister, there is no real religion to speak of (no one is referred to as a monk/nun, prayer is a generic grace at mealtimes). The only form of supernatural is the spirit of Martin the Warrior, who appears once a book to aid the protagonists, and Dark Forest, whch some characters see when near death, and the ghosts of their ancestors. Even the first book, which featured a church of Saint Ninian, had no one to pray to. There are often references to the afterlife though, such as "Dark Forest" (a neutral land of eternal slumber) and "Hellgates". Curiously, bad guys are referred to as going to either when they die. Sunflash even briefly witnesses the Dark Forest in Outcast of Redwall, though he is barred from entering until his quest is complete.
  • Tailchaser's Song has a large amount of mythology, including a Creation Myth. The cats believe that everything was created by a a god named "Meerclar Allmother". The world was originally populated with cats, children of the Two: Harar Goldeneye and Fela Skydancer. One of the Two's children, Grizraz Hearteater, was driven by jealousy to create a Hell Hound to kill his siblings. His brother Viror Whitewind stopped it but died in the process. Their other brother Tangaloor Firefoot trapped Grizraz underneath a tree. After resurfacing later Grizaz was blinded by the sun, and dug a hole into the Earth, where it is said he still remains. Humans, or as they're called "m'an", are deformed descendants of cats. They are dangerous and unusual beings who commit demeaning acts towards cats.
  • The mice of the Deptford Mice series worship a nature spirit called the Green Mouse. The main ritual is the Great Spring Ceremony, which includes a coming-of-age ritual for mouselets. The rats worship Lord Jupiter who is actually a cat.
  • Moses the Raven in Animal Farm, who symbolises the Russian Church, tells the other animals about an afterlife called Sugarcandy Mountain.
  • In the world of Titan, from the Fighting Fantasy gamebooks, all the animals have their own gods. Since the game is about humans and humanoids, these gods almost never come up unless a humanoid tribe with a connection to an animal also worships that animal's god (such as the Horse Nomads, who worship Hunnynhaa) but they exist.
  • The Educated Rodents in The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents have developed the idea that if a rat is a good rat, then when they die the Bone Rat will take them to the Big Rat Underground, whose tunnels are filled with food. It's not an idea they're all that sure about, though, since the ones who get philosophical about things are constantly questioning it and the ones who don't think it's not worth worrying about one way or the other.
  • Played with in Raptor Red. An ostrich-dino has a strange experience: she captures a small furball mammal, tosses it into the air to eat it, and it transforms into a frog by the time it reaches her mouth. (A frog was in the furball's burrow for reasons that are too long to go into here.) It makes her pause to think, and while she eventually gives a mental shrug and moves on with her day, the narration notes that if she'd had an interest in transformation, she might have founded the first dinosaur religion then and there.
  • In Silverwing, most bats worship the goddess of the night, Nocturna. The Vampyrum spectrum worship the Mayan bat demon Cama Zotz, who claims to be Nocturna's brother in the third book.
  • Seeker Bears:
    • Polar bears believe that the stars are pieces of sea ice. Each star contains the spirit of a polar bear. When a polar bear dies, their spirit sinks underneath the ice. In summer the spirits become freed from the ice and go up into the sky. When the sea ice begins to break apart violently due to global warming instead of melting peacefully as it normally does, Kallik wonders if bear spirits trapped in ice that shatters sink into the sea to swim with the fish instead.
    • Black bears believe spirits become trees.
    • Grizzly bears believe that spirits live in rivers, to eventually flow into the sea when no one remembers them anymore.

     Video Games 

     Western Animation 
  • Religion is a topic avoided in My Little Pony. My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic glosses over the issue; however, there are several times when characters use Princess Celestia's and Princess Luna's names in vain. While fanon has largely taken to alicorns as being Physical Gods, the series itself has yet to acknowledge if the princesses are deemed demi-gods by others.
  • Lemurs in The Penguins of Madagascar believe in "sky spirits".
  • In The Legend of Tarzan animated series, the gorillas believe in a protective savior called Mangani, an albino gorilla guardian, while the elephants believe in the All-Seeing Elephant. The two differ in several respects; Mangani inhabits a physical form and resurrects dead animals, while the All-Seeing Elephant is a spirit and protects elephants from fatal accidents.
  • Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers:
    • "Zipper Come Home" has a group of insects worshipping a frog called Ribbit as their god. Ribbit is of course a big threat to the lives of these insects because he sees them as food, and it seems like the whole cult is all about them begging him to not eat them.
    • In "Kiwi's Big Adventure", a tribe of kiwi birds see the Ranger Plane as a god that will make them regain their ability to fly.
    • In "The Case of the Cola Cult", Gadget joins a cult with religious overtones (she has to give up all her tools to be able to join).
  • In The Adventures of Puss in Boots, Puss occasionally prays to "Felina". He has an icon of her, which resembles a cat version of the Virgin Mary or a female saint.

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/AnimalReligion