Monday, November 3, 2008
Black Cat Lore
Black cats have been thought of as unlucky, omens of disaster. If a black cat crossed your path, especially on Halloween night, people of superstitious nature believe it to be a terrible sign of things to come. To counteract the bad luck, various magical antidotes have been devised over the centuries. Some of these include spitting on the ground, turning oneself around three times, walking backwards to retrace one's steps and recitation of special incantations. What is the history behind these superstitions?
The main idea of black cats being connected with Halloween and all things mysterious dates back to the second century B. C. and the Celtic Druids. Druid priests believed that cats were once human beings who had been changed into feline form as punishment for evil deeds. As a result, they believed the cats were sacred and included them in their worship.
In ancient Egypt, the Goddess Bastet was worshipped in the form of a lean, short haired black cat and sometimes as a female human with the head of a cat.One of the most popular deities of that time, she was a benevolent Goddess and the domestic cat was the animal most sacred to her. So sacred that harming a cat carried the price of execution. In mythology, Bastet was a deity who possessed nine incarnations - which may explain the concept of cats having nine lives.
The black cat is associated with the Greek Goddess Hectate and to the Norse Goddess Freya who rode in a Chariot drawn by cats.
In the Middle Ages, the black cat became a symbol of the devil and his disciples. Europeans believed the cat to be the animal form most assumed by the witches familiar. During the witch hunts of this time, an untold number of cats, mostly black ones, were put to death along with their mistresses and masters by devil fearing extremists.
The cat has long held a reputation for being an animal possessing both psychic and magical powers. With its link to witches, pagan goddesses and all things magical, it was destined to become one of the symbols of Halloween.