Symbolism of the Shepherd

When sedentism became the norm, the remaining nomadic populations were mostly herders. Modern shepherds are remnants of a historical nomadism, moving from one pasture to another.

Shepherding has an interesting symbolism.

Its most obvious use can be found in monotheistic religions. Shepherds are portrayed as benevolent leaders guiding innocent sheeps. A sheep is the allegory of faith and communion with the herd.

Nowadays, being called a sheep has a pejorative connotation. One of blind faith and docility. A sheep, because of its innocence, is easily influenced.

In an age where individualism is revered, independent thinking and leadership are part of the mythos of the modern human. Everyone wants to be a shepherd.

Of course, that's the result of our natural tendency for antropomorphism, and we are overestimating ourselves.

I prefer thinking of a shepherd as an allegory of balance between humankind and nature, away from society. Sheeps are a communal species because that's how they defend themselves from predators. Not following the herd is more dangerous for them than being on their own. A shepherd is merely a parasite who needs his sheeps to sustain himself. Without them, life outside society, outside the herd, is impossible.

Humans are social animals too. Whether we want it or not, we all act sheepishly, one way or another.