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The lizard was believed to have no tongue and to feed only on dew. Because of this, it was a symbol of silence. The Romans believed that the lizard slept through the winter, so to them it symbolised death and resurrection. In Roman art, the lizard was often depicted with sleeping cupids.
In a Santal folktale, a man was lying asleep when his soul became very thirsty and left his body in the form of a lizard. It got into a pitcher of water, but someone put the lid back on before it could return to his body. Just as his friends were preparing to cremate him, someone lifted the lid off the pitcher, and the lizard-soul was able to return. When the man asked his friends why they were weeping, they told him that they had thought him dead. He explained that he had gone down a well to get water but had been unable to get out.
The Araucanian people of Chile have a god of winds called Meuler who is depicted as a lizard.
The Bantu god Unkulunkulu sent a chameleon to tell humans they were immortal, but the chameleon lingered, so he sent a lizard to tell them they were mortal. The lizard arrived first, so humanity became mortal. In some parts of Africa the lizard was believed to be able to transform itself into a leopard, a lion or a hyena. It can be a totem animal, but may also have a sinister aspect.
In Australian mythology, the lizard Tarrotarro is a culture hero. He divided humanity into two genders and taught the people the arts. In Polynesian mythology, Moko, the King of the Lizards, protects fishing. In Maori mythology, the lizard pulled the first human from the waters of creation. In Hawaii, there are lizard gods who are both animal ancestor figures and tutelary spirits. There was a stone temple in Tahiti dedicated to a lizard god. The lizard was regarded as the guardian of the soul in the body.
To the people of the Amazon River, the lizard is a manifestation of the Lord of Animals and Fish. It is also the messenger of the god who told men they were mortal.
In Central America, the desert peoples believe the lizard to be a form of the Great Spirit.
In Europe, the lizard is generally regarded as a sinister creature, because it was thought to be venomous. Shakespeare used this idea in both Macbeth, where a lizard's leg was an ingredient of the witches' cauldron, and Henry VI (Part II, Act III, Scene II).
In ancient Egypt and Greece, the lizard symbolised divine wisdom and good fortune; it also averted evil. It appears with other creatures on the votive Hand of Sabazios. It was also sacred to Hermes and Serapis.
In both Zoroastrianism and christianity, the lizard symbolises evil. In Zoroastrianism, it represents Ahriman; in christianity, it represents the devil.
"I am the Lizard King
I can do anything..."