Fishes, Insects, Animals, Reptiles and Birds
"The Egyptian sphinx, the Greek centaur, and the Assyrian man-bull have much in common. All are composite creatures combining human and animal members; in the Mysteries all signify the composite nature of man and subtly refer to the hierarchies of celestial beings that have charge of the destiny of mankind.
These hierarchies are the twelve holy animals now known as constellations--star groups which are merely symbols of impersonal spiritual impulses. Chiron, the centaur, teaching the sons of men, symbolizes the intelligences of the constellation of Sagittarius, who were the custodians of the secret doctrine while (geocentrically) the sun was passing through the sign of Gemini.
The five-footed Assyrian man-bull with the wings of an eagle and the head of a man is a reminder that the invisible nature of man has the wings of a god, the head of a man, and the body of a beast. The same concept was expressed through the sphinx--that armed guardian of the Mysteries who, crouching at the gate of the temple, denied entrance to the profane. Thus placed between man and his divine possibilities, the sphinx also represented the secret doctrine itself. Children's fairy stories abound with descriptions of symbolic monsters, for nearly all such tales are based upon the ancient mystic folklore."
(Manly P Hall, Secret Teachings of All Ages Fishes: Insects, Animals, Reptiles and Birds Part One pg 85)