~taken from "Animal Magic" by D. J. Conway
The ancestors of the domestic cat were probably the African
wild cat, Felis chaus, and/or the Karrir cat, Felis lybica.
These two species were tamed and honored by the ancient Egyptians.
Throughout Egyptians influence, domesticated cats were dispersed around the Mediterranean
area. Roman legions and settlers took them into Europe and Britain,
where they obviously bred with local species.
A cat once common in Britain and other parts of the
continent is the European wild cat, Felis silvestris.
It looks like a tabby cat in the size and general color, but is more powerful and heavily built.
It is still considered very savage.
No one has managed to tame one. On
occasion these can cross-bred with the more gentle domestic cats.
The European wild cat does not like civilization and today has retreated into the
wilds of Scotland, remote areas of Central Europe, and on into Asia
In ancient cultures, the cat was both a solar and lunar
animal. It was said to by psychic and could predict coming disasters.
People thought is also could affect the weather, fence the expression
"raining like cats and dogs."
Many deities were connected with some branch of the cat
family. Artemis and Diana were both called the Mother of Cats; the Roman
goddess Liberty was portrayed with a cat at her feet. Although the followers of Zoroaster believed the cat was a good creature given by Allah to help
humans. The Hindu goddess Shasti rides a cat, the symbol of prolific
fertility and birth.
In Egypt, cats were sacred to Bast and
veneration was well established by at least 1570 b.c.e., and by 950 b.c.e. was
found in all of Egypt. Bast represented the gentler aspects of the cat, while
Pasht signified the more aggressive aspects.
Egyptians gave the cat the name mau, after the sound it makes.
A black cat was especially lucky and was the emblem used by physicians to advertise their services.
The temple cats of Bast, upon death, were mummified and buried with great
ceremony. Even cats belonging to common people were mourned upon their
deaths---the family halved their eyebrows. Killing
a cat anywhere in Egypt brought the death penalty.
The idea of the cat and its nine lives derives from an
Egyptian belief that the goddess Pasht had nine lives.
In Celtic traditions, cats were associated with
Underworld powers, the dead, and prophecy. Often
they were portrayed as evil creatures, but this may have been because the wild cats in Celtic countries were
untamed. Irish legends tell of a cat called Little Cat, who was a guardian of
treasure. In Wales, Great Cat was a powerful being born of
Henwen, an enchanted
In Norse myth, the goddess Freyja's chariot was
pulled by two cats. After the people converted to Christianity, Freyja became a witch
and her cats became black horses possessed by the devil.
The new legend said that after seven years the car-horses earned the right to become
witches disguised as black cats. The
rewrite of the Norse goddess story may be the origin of the unlucky black cat superstition. Those taught to fear the devil would consider black cats to be his evil helpers.
The Chinese said that the cat was a yin animal
connected with evil, the night, and shape-shifting.
They believed that the appearance of a strange cat portended a change in fortune and that a black cat
meant a positive-powered animal, a creature symbolizing peace and
Cats were popular with Japanese sailors, for they said that
they animals has power over the dead and kept away evil spirits that dwelt
in the ocean.
Although some of their legends tell how the cat was full of
trickery and sometimes associated with ghosts, the Japanese still hold
the animal in high esteem.
Cats are mischievous and love to play tricks on people.
The eyes of cats shine in the dark;
they can see in total darkness. Cats
can't see in total darkness and their eyes do not shine unless there is light to be reflected in them.
They can, however, see better than humans or other animals in almost dark conditions
because of the reflective coating on the inside of their eyes.
Cats will suck away the breath of children, invalids, and
sleeping people, leaving them weak or even killing them.
Cats do not suck away the breath of anyone; this erroneous superstition developed during the
witch-frenzy of the Middle Ages.
Cats are extremely nervous.
Cats aren't nervous; they just have superb reflexes.
In Britain and many places in Europe, a black cat crossing
the road or entering your house is considered to be very good fortune.
In parts of Yorkshire the wives of fishermen keep black
cats at home to ensure their husbands' safety at sea.
In southern England a black cat crossing the bath of a
bride as she leaves the church is said to grant a fortunate marriage.
A sneezing cat is said to bring good luck to a bride, as
well as being a sign of rain.
A strong protector, especially
when faced with a confrontational situation.
Knowing when to fight your way out of a bad situation and when to retreat. Independent and self-assured.
Searching for hidden information. Seeing
lion, panther in miniature,
me in my magickal endeavors.
me to see my path through dark places.
me to sift necessary from the unnecessary
to relax and enjoy life.
my magick and carry it to its destination.