Long, long ago in parts of Europe, it was believed that fairy folk stole babies from their cribs and left in their place a fairy child. They were called changelings and were unhappy in the human world. A fairy child grew up wild and fey, always looking for a way back into the Summerlands; its green or blue eyes were slanted a little and its ears were a little more pointed than normal. And a changeling had a strange way of looking at the world, as though looking through the world to something hidden beyond.
But how? I hear you ask. How could fairies steal away babies?
Long ago, when fairies walked invisible in the world, only cats could see the fey folk. When a cat sat silently watching and there was nothing there to see, it was watching the fairies about their business. And when a cat sat on a mother’s lap, the sound of the cat’s purring was the sound of it spinning sleep so that the fairies could steal away her child to be their toy.
The purr was like the sound of spinning wheels steadily spinning and that’s what it was – as humans slept in an enchanted sleep spun by a purring cat, the fairies stole away the human infant and left one of their own in its place.
It was in the cat’s nature to be attracted to a changeling infant and to suck its breath as payment for spinning sleep. So at night, the cat settled down in the changeling’s crib and sucked the changeling baby’s warm milky breath. Sometimes a greedy cat stole too much of the baby’s breath and the parents grieved over the child, not realizing that their own baby had been stolen away long time before.
The ancient compact between cats and fairies ended long time ago when the wise cats realized that humans offered a far more comfortable home. Cats still sit and watch fairies about their invisible business, but they no longer spin sleep so that fairies can steal away human children to be their toys. Cats still like the warmth of a baby’s crib and are still accused of stealing a baby’s breath.
And of course, cats still purr like steady spinning wheels. When a cat is contented it purrs to itself in satisfaction, knowing that it has a far better compact with human folk than with fairy folk. In modern times, a cat only spins sleep if you let it.
From: Moggy Cat
It was once generally believed by British fishermen that it is unlucky to take a woman to the fishing grounds, allow a woman onto a fishing boat or even to meet a woman on the way to sea. In some places this taboo extends even to mentioning a woman. This superstition persists in a few areas.
Once there was a gentleman had a beautiful daughter who was bad at heart. It was said that she knew more than a Christian ought and the people thereabouts wanted to swim her. This meant they wanted to test her as a suspected witch by casting her into the water to see if she floated – if she floated it was proof she was a witch, if she sank then she was innocent.
However, no one dared swim the suspected witch because of her father. The girl put a spell on a poor fisherman, and he became so in love with her that he followed her wherever she went. Even though he was engaged to be married that week, he deserted his bride-to-be and ran away to see with the gentleman’s daughter. She did this to spite her proud father, but her father thought himself well rid of the spiteful maid.
The fishermen unwittingly took her out with them to the fishing grounds; the only one that knew she was in a fishing boat was her lover who had hidden there. A great storm blew up and the whole fishing fleet were lost and every man drowned. It was said that she had whistled up the storm. She had even drowned her own lover out of spitefulness. Afterwards, she turned into a four-eyed cat and she continued to haunt the fishing fleet. This is why fishermen will never cast their nets before cock-crow (half-past three) and why they always throw a bit back into the sea to appease the cat.
Found at: Moggycats Cat Pages
- 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, divination and 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 grey cat means to be guided by your dreams.
- To dream of a calico or multi-colored cat means luck with new friends and old ones.
- A dream of two cats fighting means illness or a quarrel.
More about cat dreaming can be found here: Dreaming About Cats
In other parts of the world, a cat sneeze on the morning of a wedding meant the couple would have a happy marriage. On any other day, however, it signaled rain.
If a cat sneezed three times in a row, some were convinced that everyone in the house would come down with a cold.
(At my house, a cat sneeze is prophetic of the need to dust!)
Here’s a nifty collection of proverbs about cats:
A cat goes to a monastery, but she still remains a cat.
A cat has nine lives.
For three he plays, for three he strays,
and for the last three he stays.
A cat may look at a king.
A cat will teach her young ones all the tricks,
except how to jump backwards.
~Netherlands Antillean proverb
A cat with a straw tail keeps away from fire.
A house without either a cat or a dog
is the house of a scoundrel.
After dark all cats are leopards.
All cats are bad in May.
An old cat will not learn how to dance.
Beware of people who dislike cats.
Books and cats and fair-haired little girls
make the best furnishings for a room.
Cats don’t catch mice to please God.
Cats, flies and women are ever at their toilets.
Curiosity killed the cat,
Satisfaction brought it back!
Handsome cats and fat dung heaps are the sign of a good farmer.
Happy is the home with at least one cat.
Happy owner, happy cat.
Indifferent owner, reclusive cat.
I gave an order to a cat, and the cat gave it to its tail.
If stretching were wealth, the cat would be rich.
If you play with a cat, you must not mind her scratch.
In a cat’s eyes, all things belong to cats.
One should not send a cat to deliver cream.
The cat’s a saint when there are no mice about.
The cat is nature’s Beauty.
The cat was created when the lion sneezed.
The cat who frightens the mice away
is as good as the cat who eats them.
The dog for the man, the cat for the woman.
Those who dislike cats
will be carried to the cemetery in the rain.
To live long, eat like a cat, drink like a dog.
When the cat’s away, the mice will play.
~Western Europe proverb
When the mouse laughs at the cat there’s a hole nearby.
When rats infest the Palace a lame cat is better than the swiftest horse.
Wherever the mice laugh at the cat,
there you will find a hole.
Who cares well for cats
will marry as happily as he or she could ever wish.
You will always be lucky
if you know how to make friends with strange cats.
~Colonial American proverb
You come with a cat and call it a rabbit.
“All cats are grey at night.”
~Old French Proverb
No other animal is more frequently linked with Witches and the Craft than the cat, and in particular the black cat.
This is not just part of the mythology of the Craft, as many Witches live with cats. Notice I say “live with” not “own.” No one who knows cats will ever consider that you can have possession of one! Having said that, there is no reason why you have to live with a cat to be a Witch.
There is an enormous body of folklore surrounding the cat. A cat washing behind it’s ears is said to forecast rain; stroking an affected eye with a cat’s tail was thought to cure a stye, and so forth. Whatever you feel about such sayings there is no doubt that the cat is a very magical animal. One of mine, now sadly dead, could tell the difference between a true Witch and a pretender. Certainly both my current cats pay great attention whenever I am practicing the Craft, and can distinguish between a candle lit for magic and one lit for ambiance.
Another way in which cats and Witches are linked is that cats are probably the best domestic animal for borrowing. That is when you transfer a part of your mind into the body of the animal so that you can travel in it’s shape and experience the things it sees and does. Indeed; it is thought that the saying that a cat has nine lives is an indication of the number of times a Witch can ride with a cat in this way.
Found in: The Real Witches’ Year
Even the most common household cat has a mystique about it and the potential for the supernatural powers that man has ascribed to cats for thousands of years.
At various times, and in different places, it has been regarded as a holy or a diabolical beast, as a bringer of good fortune or as an omen of evil. In antiquity it was sacred to more than one divinity.
Artemis / Diana, the Goddess of the Hunt was associated with the cat, also notorious for its hunting skills. The followers of Diana revered cats because they were under her special protection, and because she once assumed that form. So too, in pagan Scandinavia, Freya, the goddess of love and fertility, was associated with them, her chariot was drawn by them.
Typically, in Western civilizations, the cat (particularly if it is black) belongs to the witch; it is her familiar, her companion and her alter ego. As such, the cat shares magickal secrets and arcane knowledge which, of course, she cannot explain to mere mortals, since they don’t speak her language. There is an unspoken communication between the witch and her grimalkin that transcends any language used by other creatures.
In the Saga or Eric the Red, there is a very complete description of a witch or prophetess that was a mistress of rune-craft, the art of reading the runes. Part of the description of her costume includes a hood “lined with white cat skin” and “cat-skin mittens.”
When it sleeps, the cat curls itself into a circle with its head touching its tail, making a shape that is very similar to the ouroboros. Like this ancient mythical creature, the cat is a symbol of immortality.
The Ancient Egyptians regarded the cat so highly that they revered it as a deity. The Egyptian Bast, or Pasht, was cat-headed and attended by cats, and consequently every member of the cat family was loved and venerated in ancient Egypt. To kill one was sacrilege. When a household pet died, its owner shaved off his eyebrows as a token of mourning and performed funeral rites for it.
Bast was the cat goddess, and mortal cats whose fur was of three different colors, or who had eyes of different shades were honored in particular for their Bast-like appearance; it is not just the black cat that holds power. Bast is often depicted with a knife in her paw, having beheaded Apophis, the enemy of the Sun.
Egyptian priests believed that cats carried the magnetic forces of nature and so close proximity to the creatures enabled them to access these powers. If a cat died a natural death in the home, the Egyptians would shave their eyebrows as a sign of mourning.
It was in ancient Egypyt that the belief began that a black cat crossing your path brings good luck. The opposite tradition began in the Middle Ages in Europe.
Cats fared badly during the dark times of the Middle Ages because of the association between witches and cats. Black cats were believed to be witches in disguise. An alternative belief was that after seven years of service to a witch, a black cat would turn into a witch. Consequently, a black cat crossing your path was an indication of bad luck, as the devil was watching you.
The cat does not an honorable reputation in the Buddhist tradition either. Because it was absent at the physical death and spiritual liberation of the Buddha, it is viewed with suspicion as a base, earthly creature, lacking respect, which really should have been present at such an auspicious occasion. The only other creature that was not there was the serpent.
The link between the cat and the serpent comes in the Kabbalah, too, and also in Christianity; in pictures where the cat appears at the feet of Christ it carries the same negative imagery as the snake.
In Islam, cats are regarded favorably unless they are black, in which case they are viewed with great suspicion since djinn can transform themselves into black cats. Additionally, the magical powers of the cat are ambivalent, used either for or against man, this refers to the indifference with which a cat treats its prey.
In the Western tradition of cat lore, the animal has nine lives, whereas its Eastern cousin has to manage with only seven.
A Persian belief about the cat echoes the idea of the witch with her familiar. Some people are born with a hemzad, a spirit that accompanies the person throughout his or her life and takes the form of a cat. That its blood is particularly powerful for writing charms further underlines the universally “magical” nature of the cat.
In Africa, too, the clairvoyant powers of the animal are renowned, and so medicine bags made of cat skin are imbued with supernatural powers.
Interestingly, the cat is not in the Chinese Zodiac. One folktale explanation is that heard Buddha saw Cat playing with mice for fun and did not allow that kind of sin into the zodiac.
Another folk story tells that Cat and Rat were the worst swimmers in the animal kingdom. Although they were poor swimmers, they were both quite intelligent. To get to the meeting called by the Jade Emperor, they had to cross a river to reach the meeting place. The Jade Emperor had also decreed that the years on the calendar would be named for each animal as they arrived to the meeting.
Cat and Rat decided that the best and fastest way to cross the river was to hop on the back of Ox. Ox, being naive and good-natured, agreed to carry them both across. Midway across the river, Rat pushed Cat into the water. Then as Ox neared the other side of the river, Rat jumped ahead and reached the shore first. So he claimed first place in the competition and the zodiac.
Borrowed from: Sigils Symbols and Signs
In Sussex, and some other counties in England, a kitten born just after Michaelmas (September 29), when the blackberry season has ended, is called a blackberry-cat and is expected to be extremely mischievous in its youth.
The same tradition applies to other young animals born at this time, and seems to be connected with the legend of the Devil’s fall to Earth at Michaelmas and his spoiling of the blackberries then and ever since.
Borrowed from: Sigils Symbols and Signs
In almost every country where they were known, cats were believed to have mystical powers, and among other things, to be able to foretell and control the weather. Here is a list of what can be expected weather-wise based on cat behavior and actions:
- When cats run about wildly, or claw at carpets and cushions, wind is coming.
- A cat sleeping with all four paws tucked under means bad weather is coming.
- When the pupil of a cat’s eye broadens, there will be rain.
- A cat washing itself is believed to be a forecast of rain.
- To throw a cat overboard causes an immediate storm at sea.
- If a cat sneezes it will rain.
- If the cat turns its tail to a fire or any substituting heat source, it foretells a possible change in weather, particularly the coming of heavy rain or hard frost.
- If a cat sits with its back to the fire, it is a sure sign of frost.
- If a cat curls up with its forehead touching the ground, it indicates that storms will happen in the near future.
- If a cat continually looks out a window on any day, rain is on the way.
- Sailors believed that if a cat licked its fur against the grain it meant a hailstorm was coming; if it sneezed, rain was on the way; and if it was frisky, the wind would soon blow.
- A German belief says that mistreating a cat can cause a rainstorm to occur on the clothes you’ve hung out to dry.
- It was a popular belief that cats could start storms through magic stored in their tails – so sailors always made sure that they were well-fed and contented.
- If a cat licks its fur in the opposite way that it naturally lies, there will be significant rain.
- Alternatively, if the cat calmly and smoothly washes itself, expect fair weather.
- Forgetting to feed your cat on your wedding day is an invitation to the rain.
- To see a cat eating grass foretells rain.
- Anyone who makes cats his enemy is certain to be accompanied to the grave with wind and rain.
- If the cat tears of the cushions or carpet with its claws, it is a sign that wind is coming, as we say, “the cat is raising the wind“.
- If cats are playing in the house and an unusually lively way, windy or stormy weather is approaching.
- If the cat while washing its face draws its paw over its forehead it is a sign of good weather. If not, it means speedy rain.
- Indonesians and Malays believe that if you wash your cat it will bring rain.
Borrowed from: Divination
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