Various interpretations have been given of the horse-headed form of the Black Demeter: (I) that the horse was one of the forms of the corn-spirit in ancient Greece; (2) that it was an animal " devoted " to the chthonian goddess; (3) that it is totemistic; (4) that the form was adopted from Poseidon Hippios, who is frequently associated with the earth-goddess and is said to have received the name Hippios first at Thelpusa, in order that Demeter might figure as the mother of Areion (for a discussion of the whole subject see Farnell, Cults, iii.
(B) Treating cults according to their meaning, which is not necessarily identical with the cause which first led to the deification of the animal in question, we can classify them under ten specific heads: (i.) pastoral cults; (ii.) hunting cults; (iii.) cults of dangerous or noxious animals; (iv.) cults of animals regarded as human souls or their embodiment; (v.) totemistic cults; (vi.) cults of secret societies, and individual cults of tutelary animals; (vii.) cults of tree and vegetation spirits; (viii.) cults of ominous animals; (ix.) cults, probably derivative, of animals associated with certain deities; (x.) cults of animals used in magic.
It was rather of the nature of the savagetaboo, the outcome of totemistic beliefs or a mode of averting the contaminating presence of djinns and demons.
The latter offers a cannibal-meal to the disguised God, who turns him into a wolf for his sins; and the later Arcadian ritual in honour of this God betrays a hint of lycanthropy; some one who partook of the sacrifice or who swam across a certain lake was supposed to be transformed into a wolf for a certain time.4 Robertson Smith 5 was the first to propose that we have here the traces of an ancient totemistic sacrifice of a wolf-clan, who offered the " theanthropic " animal " the man-wolf " to the wolf-God.
The totemistic theory in its application to Greek religion cannot be here discussed; but we may note that there is no hint in the story that the wolf was offered to Zeus and that the name AvKaios could not originally have designated the " wolf "-God: for from the stem Xveo- we should get the adjective XvKEGOS, not XvKacos; the latter is better derived from a word such as XvKn = " light," and may allude to the God of the clear sky; in fact the wolf, which was a necessary animal in the ritual and legend of Apollo AuKeIOS, may have strayed casually into association with Zeus AvKaios, attracted by a false etymology.
How would you define totemistic? Add your definition here.