Dear readers, your intrepid author will level with you: I don't love scary movies. I'm a total baby. Creepy, horrifying, bloody, bewitching... It all makes me nervous. If someone recommends a film to me that teeters on a little too scary, I'll probably just avoid it, or watch it at home with all the lights on and the ability to cover my eyes and mumble to my wife, "Oh god, tell me when it's overrrrr."
But I do have this weird soft spot for all things macabre, like bats, rats, skeletons, Edward Gorey, Tim Burton... You know, sort of the Halloween Lite, the stuff that a kid who loved The Nightmare Before Christmas would love. So, I also love Black Phillip, because I love slightly off, slightly odd creepy things and I also love slightly off, slightly odd creepy animals. And goats are hella creepy.
I mean, seriously, look at this dude's horns. Something about a goat's weird little beard, windy horns, and square pupils is just so fucking cute. I know he's supposed to be Satan, but don't you just wanna feed him some oats and take him for a walk?
I never really understood why goats got the bad rap of being Satan, or even remotely satanic. I get how it's easy to suddenly believe that an animal behaving badly (or sweetly or randomly, or you know, like an animal) could be a witch's familiar. The idea of an animal familiar isn't a new one, and isn't just a Western notion. Some people have black cats, some people have flying monkeys, some of people have goats.
There's a bit of a debate about precisely when goats featured into the history of New England and witchcraft, as debated here in this Slate article. There aren't a lot of early records of the witch trials from colonial times, largely due in part to time and shame.
However, you may have seen, at some point, an image with a human body, with wing or sundry other animal bits, and a goat head. According to trusty Wikipedia:
"The actual image of a goat in a downward-pointing pentagram first appeared in the 1897 book La Clef de la Magie Noire by Stanislas de Guaita. It was this image that was later adopted as the official symbol — called the Sigil of Baphomet — of the Church of Satan, and continues to be used among Satanists."
So nobody was running around in the 1600s accusing specifically goats of anything, but the general chaos and fear that warped people's minds in colonial New England was its own thing regardless. It's a bit of a chicken and egg thing (or, uh, goat and goat thing?) about whether goats just have this weirdness about them, or whether we've built that up due to Church of Satan associations. Do I like goats because they're goats or do I like goats because they're associated with generally bizarre things? Either way, a cute horned goat friend in a pasture or as ink on my body is in my future.