I Couldn’t Pass Up, Cat Folklore & Magick

CAT FOLKLORE AND MAGICK

Cats have been associated with deities, witches and magick for centuries. Here are some snippets of cat-related folklore.

Cats have been sacred to more than one religion, and at different times and places have been considered both good and bad luck-bringers. The Egyptian goddess Bast was both lion-headed and cat-headed and attended by cats and therefore cats were sacred and revered in Egypt; killing one was a heinous crime, and when a household cat died mourning rites were performed for it. Cats
were often found in temples and were ritually fed; stray cats were treated with honour and fed, and the household cat was allowed to share the family’s food. Cat amulets were produced and elaborate cat-sized sarcophagi crafted for cats who had died, who were often embalmed as humans were. Followers of the goddess Diana also considered the cat sacred because she once assumed the form of a cat, and cats were under her special protection. In Scandinavia, Freya’s chariot was drawn by cats. The Celtic goddess Ceridwen was also attended by white cats, who carried out her orders on earth.

Cats are traditionally associated with witches, and it is generally assumed today that witches’ familiars were (and are) always cats. However, during the Burning Times any small animal that was kept in the house was suspect, and records show that accused witches were forced to confess having familiar spirits in the form of cats, rats, mice, dogs, weasels and toads. It was also firmly
believed that witches could take the shape of cats, and accusers sometimes claimed that they were followed or tormented by witches in the shape of cats. In 1718 William Montgomery of Caithness alleged that hordes of cats gathered outside his house nightly and talked in human language; he claimed to have killed two of them and wounded another one night and awoken the next morning to hear that two old women had been found dead in their beds and another badly injured.

In Britain and Australia black cats are considered lucky, and in some places white cats are correspondingly unlucky. In many parts of Europe and in the United States, however, it is the black cat who is ill-omened. In Britain tortoiseshell cats will bring their owners luck, and blue cats bring luck in Russia. An old saying about black cats is that ‘Whenever the cat of the house is black, the lasses of lovers shall have no lack’. It was said that if the household cat sneezed near a bride on her wedding day, she would have a happy married life.

To meet a black cat is usually fortunate, especially if it crosses one’s path. In some districts the luck is only considered released if the cat is politely greeted, or stroked three times. Sometimes it is considered unlucky if the cat runs away from the person, or turns back on its own tracks. To meet a white cat is bad luck, except in those countries where white cats are the luck-bringers. If a black cat comes into a house or onto a ship, it is considered a very lucky sign, and the cat should never be chased away in case it takes the luck of the house with it. Seamen avoid the word ‘cat’ while at sea, but to have a cat on board is lucky, especially if it is a completely black cat with no white hairs. To throw the cat overboard raises an immediate violent storm; no sailor would do such a thing to the ship’s cat, and in fact cats are rarely left on an abandoned ship but are generally rescued with the sailors. In Yorkshire, if a sailor’s wife kept a black cat, her husband would always return safely from the sea; this sometimes led to black cats being stolen.

Cat hair and bones were often ingredients of charms and spells, and even now a few hairs from a cat are supposed to increase the power of a spell, although this now appears more common in England than in America where the hair of a wolf appears to have taken over. In previous centuries the tail of a black cat was believed to cure a stye if stroked over the afflicted eye, and a tortoiseshell
cat’s tail was considered to remove warts. Three drops of a cat’s blood smeared on a wart was also considered to cure it. If a person in the house was very ill, it was thought that throwing the water in which the patient had been washed over a cat, and then driving the poor creature away, would transfer the illness to the cat and drive it out of the household.

It was said that every cat should be given two names; a country rhyme states ‘

One for a secret, one for a riddle, name puss twice and befuddle the devil’.

This saying was based on the belief that one person could gain power and ascendancy over another simply by knowing his or her real name; by giving the household cat two names, once for common use and one secret and never revealed to outsiders, the pet which had the run of the household could be protected from becoming a tool of evil or of outside infiltration.

Cat Weather Lore

A sneezing cat means rain on the way, and three sneezes in a row portends a cold for the cat’s owner!

A cat running wildly about (known in our house as ‘spacey cat’) darting here and there and clawing everything in sight means wind or a storm on the way; when the cat quiets down, the storm will soon blow itself out.

Cats washing over their ears has long been held to foretell rain; the old rhyme goes ‘When Kitty washes behind her ears, we’ll soon be tasting heaven’s tears’.

A cat which rolls over and over in the grass, claws the ground and behaves in a skittish manner, is indicating that a brief rain-shower is on the way.

When the cat is restless and moves from place to place without settling, it is foretelling hard winds.

A cat who sits with its back to the fire is said to be a portent of frost.

When a cat spends the night outdoors and caterwauls loudly, it may be foretelling a period of several days’ bad weather.

Cat Dream Interpretations
(traditional, and some from Clare Nahmad’s ‘Catspells’)

To dream of a black cat is lucky.

To dream of a tortoiseshell cat means luck in love.

To dream of a ginger cat means luck in money and business

To dream of a white cat means luck in creativity, spiritual matters, divinationand spellcraft.

To dream of a black-and-white cat means luck with children; may also mean the birth of a child.

To dream of a tabby cat means luck for the home and all who live there.

To dream of a gray cat means to be guided by your dreams.

To dream of a calico or multicolored cat means luck with new friends and old ones.

A dream of two cats fighting means illness or a quarrel.

 

Cat Spells and Charms

If a black cat crosses your path, greet the animal politely and stroke it three times if possible, while reciting this charm:

‘Black cat, cross my path,
Good fortune bring to home and hearth,
When I am away from home
Bring me luck wherever I roam’.

Then leave the cat and go on your way. If you abuse, insult or ignore the cat, no good luck will follow.

Halloween: The Past in the Present

Halloween: The Past in the Present
by Elspeth Sapphire

The days are shortening and dark comes early.  There is a certain crispness to the air as we stroll the streets.  Before long, the leaves are turning bright colors, only to slowly drift down to cover yards and streets.

Yes, autumn is here.

And with autumn comes a holiday enjoyed by both old and young…Halloween.

What is the appeal of this night?  Why do we find people ranging from infants to grandparents donning costumes and for one night forgetting the mundane?

Halloween, or Samhain to the Pagans, has caught the imagination of people throughout the ages.  From the ancient rituals honoring the dead to our modern custom of trick or treating, this one night is our time to put aside any fear of the dark and embrace any that walk there as welcome. Halloween costumes have become a huge part of the tradition of Halloween now as well to remind people what we used to fear and to have a little fun with it.

The ancients chose this time of year to celebrate the dead. The harvests were done and the fields laid empty.  The days of sun were at a end and the days of dark were beginning.  What better time to celebrate the powers of darkness.

This was not a celebration of fear; not always has darkness equaled fear.  Instead for those who believed in rebirth, it was a time to reach and touch those beliefs.  Just as the fields now laid bare, they would flower again in the spring.  And so it was with us, dying only to be reborn.

So many of our Halloween customs can be traced to the past and the habits of our ancestors.  Each time I look at the jack-o- lanterns shining with devilish grins, I can picture the original lanterns.  Turnips were hollowed out and candles placed inside to protect them from the wind.  These lanterns were placed on window sills to guide the dead back to their kin.

Since the apple harvest was celebrated at this same time, apples often played an important place in the festivals.  When you bob for apples or dangle apples on strings, you are walking in the footsteps of other people and other times.

What would Halloween be without costumes and masks?  Yet, have many of us wondered why we so enjoying the wearing of costumes? Dressing up frees us from the ties of our everyday life.  For a brief moment of time, we become a princess or an Indian or a cartoon character.  This gives us a freedom of action that we normally wouldn’t have.

Masks have also long been associated with death and the gods. Was early man trying to understand death when he put on a mask of a dead one? Perhaps, donning a mask could put us in touch with the gods themselves.

The black cat, familiar to many a storybook witch, was priced because cats could sense the dead.  They could be used as a kind of early warning system.  Why black cats?  What better color for this time when the darkness rules?

Every where I look, I come face to face with the stereotyped image of the witch.  Wicked or not, they all looked alike: greenish skin, a wart, misshapened face, dressed all in black. In these days of striving for the politically correct, many are trying to remove this image from Halloween celebrations.  I guess they don’t see what I do.  I look at the Halloween witches and remember pictures of the dark Goddess, dressed in black and with her high pointed hat.  She would wait at the crossroads to guide the dead to their rest until the time of rebirth.  Evil?  I don’t believe so, anymore than I believe death is evil.  Instead it is one more symbol that has passed down through the years to spice October 31st.

Just look around.  We are surrounded by symbols of the past that we take for granted.  The brooms the witches rode.  The cauldrons that bubbled with potions vile.  Even trick or treating could be traced back to Celts who went house to house collecting treats of apples.

It has been truly said that there is nothing new under the sun. However, this doesn’t have to hinder our enjoyment.  On Halloween night, you can find me walking the night.  Without fear, I will travel, listening to the laughter of the children, as I go back to another time and place.

SUPERSTITIONS

A WORD ABOUT SUPERSTITIONS

I guess most of us are just a tad superstitious, at least to the point where we
don’t take unnecessary chances. You know, better safe than sorry.
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There are certain superstitions that I go along with, but breaking a mirror
brings seven years bad luck ain’t one of ’em. Heck, I know a man who broke one
and he didn’t have seven years bad luck at all. He was run over by a train and
killed the day after he broke it.

Here is a list of southern superstitions I’ve heard all my life. I’m sure you
will remember a number of them:

– If you sweep dirt out of the house on Friday, the house will burn down.

– Wash your hair in the first rain in May, and it will grow faster.

– Cross your eyes and jump over a ditch at midnight, and your eyes will stay
crossed forever.

– See a cardinal, make a wish, and pinch someone to make it come true.

– Make a wish on a redbird before it flies, and your wish will come true.

– Sleep with a mirror under your pillow, and you will see your future husband.

– When a man’s second toe is longer than his big toe, he will be henpecked.

– If a bride goes to the altar with some salt in her pocket, she will always be
happy.

– When fish jump above the water, look for rain.

– Run into a cobweb, and you’ll get a letter.

– If your palm itches, you are going to get some money.

– If your nose itches, it means you are going to have company.

– Carry in your pocket a button you’ve found, and it will bring you good luck.
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– Walking on the other side of a post from a friend will bring on a quarrel,
unless you say “bread and butter.”

– Snakes will not come around a place where gourds are growing.

– It will bring much bad luck if you sleep on new, unwashed sheets.

– To become beautiful, get behind a door and eat a chicken foot.

– A woman who drops her apron will lose a friend.

– If your left foot itches, you will walk where you’re not welcome.

– Look under a bed, and you’ll never marry.

– It’s bad luck to lean a broom against a bed.

– If someone sweeps under your feet, you’ll never marry.

– If your initials spell a word, you will become rich.

– If your shoestring becomes untied, someone is talking about you.

– Shaking hands over a fence will bring bad luck.

– Those whose teeth grow wide apart will be travelers.

– Always step into a courtroom on your right foot when you have business there.

– A woman with short fingers makes a good manager.

– If you sneeze before breakfast, you’ll see your sweetheart before Saturday
night.

– If you can see the sunshine through a man’s ears, he’s a rascal and can’t be
trusted.

– Whistle in bed and you’ll cry before the next night.

– You can be sure of rough weather if the grape or pecan crop is heavy.

– It’s bad luck to climb over anybody in bed.

– It causes bad luck if you bring an old broom into a new house.

– It’s bad luck to take up ashes from the fireplace during the Christmas season.

– If a fly flies around your face continually, a stranger hopes to meet you.

– Cut your fingernails before breakfast on Monday morning, and you’ll get a
present before the week is over.

– Forget to wash a skillet and you can expect a guest for the next meal.

– When hornets nests are low, it will be a cold winter.

– The first thunder of spring wakes up the snakes and tells you that winter is
gone.

– It’s good luck for a butterfly to light on your shoulder.

– A wish made in a bed that’s never been slept in will come true.

– You can utter any untruth your heart desires as long as your fingers are
crossed.

Pet Safety for Halloween – 10 Safety Tips for Pets

10 Halloween Safety Tips for Pets

Nicolas, selected from petMD

 

Halloween can be a festive and fun time for children and families.  But for  pets? Let’s face it, it can be a downright nightmare. Forgo the  stress and  dangers this year by following these 10 easy tips.

1. Candy Isn’t for Pets

All forms of chocolate — especially baking or dark chocolate — can be  dangerous, even lethal, for dogs and cats. Symptoms of chocolate poisoning may include vomiting, diarrhea, rapid  breathing, increased heart rate  and seizures. Halloween candies containing the  artificial sweetener  xylitol can also be poisonous to dogs. Even small amounts  of xylitol can  cause a sudden drop in blood sugar and subsequent loss of  coordination  and seizures. And while xylitol toxicity in cats has yet to be   established, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

2. Don’t Leave Pets in the Yard on Halloween.

Sadly, vicious pranksters have been known to tease, injure and  steal pets on  Halloween night. Inexcusable? Yes. But  preventable nonetheless.

3. Keep Pets Confined and Away from the Door.

Not only will your door be constantly opening and closing on  Halloween, but  strangers will be dressed in unusual costumes and yelling  loudly for their  candy. This, of course, is scary for our furry  friends. Dogs are especially  territorial and may become anxious and  growl at innocent trick-or-treaters.  Putting your dog or cat in a secure  room away from the front door will also  prevent them from darting  outside into the night … a night when no one wants to  be searching for a  lost loved one.

4. Keep Outdoor cats Inside For Several Days Before and Several Days  After Halloween.

Black cats are especially at risk from pranks or other  cruelty-related  incidents. In fact, many shelters do not adopt out black  cats during the month  of October as a safety precaution.

5. Keep Halloween Plants Like Pumpkins and Corn Out of  Reach.

Although they are relatively nontoxic, such plants can induce   gastrointestinal upset should your pets ingest them in large quantities.   Intestinal blockage can even occur if large pieces are swallowed.

6. Don’t Keep Lit Pumpkins Around Pets.

Should they get too close, they run the risk of burning themselves or  knocking it over and causing a fire.

7. Keep wires and Electric Light Cords Out of Reach.

If chewed, your pet could cut himself or herself on shards of glass or  plastic, or receive a possibly life-threatening electrical shock.

8. Don’t Dress Your Pet in a Costume Unless You Know They’ll Love  It.

If you do decide that Fido or Kitty needs a costume, make sure it  isn’t  annoying or unsafe. It should not constrict movement, hearing, or  the ability  to breathe or bark/meow.

9. Try on Pet Costumes Before the Big Night.

If they seem distressed, allergic, or show abnormal behavior,  consider  letting them go in their “birthday suit”. Festive bandanas  usually work for  party poopers, too.

10. IDs, Please!

If your dog or cat should escape and become lost, having the proper   identification will increase the chances that they will be returned.  Just make  sure the information is up-to-date, even if your pet does have  one of those  fancy-schmancy embedded microchips.