"In the eyes of the superstitious, there is scarcely a movement of the cat which is not supposed to have some significance."
~ T.F. Thiselton Dyer, Author of Moon Customs and Superstitions~
Cat lore can be found in many ancient and modern cultures. Cats’ mysterious demeanor and personality have always inspired all types of beliefs and myths.
Ever since cats gained prominence in Ancient Egypt, they have been used to explain many mysteries. Cats were, in many instances, revered as gods and goddesses. Ancient people of Egypt and other nations attributed magical powers to cats.
Despite all these reverence and prominence, however, it hasn’t all been a positive experience for cats. In many cultures, and during different periods in history, cats were seen as evil creatures and bearers of misfortune. These beliefs cost many cats their lives as they were mercilessly persecuted.
The Cat represents guardianship, sensuality and detachment. Cat bestows the talent to quietly observe situations without bias before making decisions, knowing all have a right to understand and judge important events for them when the time is right. She is the merging of the spiritual and physical; the psychic and sensual.
The Cat is symbolic of independence, reincarnation, balance, psychicism, magick and mystery. She represents wisdom. One tribe called owls cats with wings. Self-assured, she’s a strong protector, especially in confrontational situations. The zenith of her power is the night and she’s been called a child of the Moon.
The Vampire: The succubus and incubus are lascivious female and male spirits which have sexual intercourse with men and women at night, draining off the natural vitality.
The arch drainer of life is the vampire, specifically a sucker of human blood. No one ever encouraged the act of a vampire as did witches with their familiars; it always sucked the blood of the living in violation of their will.
Vampires have often taken feline form. A Japanese legend called The Cat of Nabeshinia tells the story of an erotic cat vampire. The Prince of Hizen, a member of the honored Nabeshima family, had as his favorite concubine a charming woman whose name was O Toyo. One evening the lovers wandered into the garden and stayed out enjoying the flowers until sunset. While returning to the palace, they realized that a cat was following them.
O Toyo retired to her own room and went to sleep. At midnight, awakening with a start, she became aware of being watched by a huge double-tailed crouching cat. Before she could cry for help, it sprang at her throat and throttled her to death. The cat then scratched a hole under the verandah, buried O Toyo, and assumed her form.
The prince knew nothing of this tragedy. He had no idea that the beautiful woman who came and made love to him every night was in fact, a demon who was draining his life's blood. Day by day the Prince of Hizen's strength dwindled; his face became both pale and livid, as he appeared to be suffering from a fatal illness. He took all the medications prescribed by doctors, but none did any good.
Since his sufferings always increased at night, it was arranged for one hundred servants to form a guard every evening when he retired for bed. Each evening the watchers took up their positions, but around ten o'clock they were overcome by drowsiness. The vampire would prey upon her victim as usual. The prince's health deteriorated steadily each day. His counselors realized that they were up against something supernatural. They turned to the chief priest at the temple, begging him for prayers for the prince's recovery. The prayers of the priest were disturbed by noises from the garden, a soldier called Ito Soda, who served in the infantry of Nabeshima. The young man begged to sit up one night with the prince to try to resist the drowsiness and detect the evil spirit.
Eventually his request was granted. However, as the others, at ten o'clock he felt drowsiness overcoming him. To ward off the sleep, he thrust his dagger deep into his thigh so that sharp pain would keep him awake.
As he watched, the sliding doors of the prince's room opened, and a beautiful young woman slipped into the room making her way to the bedside. Suddenly she became aware of another presence. Though she called out, Ito refused to answer, staying hidden. Several times she attempted to cast her spells over the prince, but as long as Ito glared at her, she was unable to concentrate. Finally she retired in frustration to her own sleeping chambers, leaving the prince undisturbed. The following night the soldier again took up his vigilance and the same thing happened. After two undisturbed nights, the prince's health began to improve. Again and again the vampire returned, only to have fruitless attempts at the prince. Gradually the night guards ceased to be overcome with drowsiness.
It was obvious to Ito that the being who appeared at night as O Toyo was really a ghoul; he began making plans to kill her. At nightfall the soldier went to her chambers, pretending to deliver a message from the prince. As he approached, he struck at her with his dagger but she sprang away. Finding herself no match for Ito, she formed herself into a cat, leapt to the roof, and escaped into the mountains.
The cat demon harried the local residents until one day the prince, having fully regained his health, organized a great hunt for the cat. He succeeded in avenging his beautiful concubine, for the vampire of Nabeshima was finally destroyed.
It is interesting to note, after reading of this legend, of a report that was published in Sunday Express, July 14, 1929 from Japan: The vampire cat of Nabeshima is once more about its nightly business, bewitching the beautiful wives of the descendants of the old two-sworded fighting Samurai.
According to Hebrew folklore, Adam had a wife before Eve was formed, named Lilith. Lilith, however, refused to submit to Adam and was banished from Paradise, forever haunting the nights. Spanish Jews believe that Lilith became a vampire and her favorite victims are infants. It is in the form of a huge black cat call El Broosha that Lilith is said to suck the blood of newborn babes.
In some parts of Europe there was a belief that even an innocent man may become a vampire if a cat crosses his corpse before the burial, for the cat is thought to be a potential vampire which can infect the corpse by its mere proximity. In Northumbria, cats that accidentally walk or leap across a corpse will, for the same reason, often be put to death.
In times past, when someone in China died, the family showed great anxiety to transfer all the housecats to neighbors or else tie them up until the body was in its coffin. The danger they spoke of was that any cat might possess a "soul-recalling hair." If it did and walked or leapt over a deathbed, the corpse was liable to rise up. The only remedy was to take a pole or broomstick and offer it to the corpse. The latter, who would be frantic with rage, would grasp the pole with both hands, pulling it against its chest to cool its wrath and with any luck, would sink back into its inert state. If a relative was seized instead of a pole, a horrible death awaited him in the corpse's ferocious embrace.
The soul-recalling hair was really the property of tigers. The Chinese believed that the tiger had a miraculous hair in its tail which had the power of bringing back the soul to a dead body.
Every hour, day, month, and year of the Chinese calendar came under the special influence of animals, one of which was the tiger. On account of its close resemblance to the tiger, the cat could happen to possess a soul-recalling hair which would cause the dead person to become a vampire. This was a special risk to the cat if a death occurred around or on "tiger days" of the Chinese year, when the feline influence was most predominant.
Cat lore is present in many other cultures. Here are a few more legends…
Hebrew – A legend says that before the great flood there were no cats. A couple of lions did make it onto Noah’s ark. According to this legend, after some time of floating in the waters, the ark became infested with mice. These rodents almost ate all their food reserves. Noah was beside himself. So he prayed to God for a solution. God told Noah to hit the male lion on the face. As Noah did so, the lion sneezed and out of the lion’s nostrils came a pair of cats.
Christian – According to a popular legend, tabbies got the M on their foreheads from the Virgin Mary. Legend says that when Baby Jesus was born, a tabby cat kept him warm. The Virgin Mary put her mark on the cat’s forehead as a symbol of her gratitude.
Europe - Medieval Times – People thought that if you kicked a cat, you would develop rheumatism.
Indonesia – Legend says that cats can control rain.
Black Cat Lore
A black cat crossing the path of a person is bad luck.
Seamen on sailing ships believed if a cat was put under a pot on the deck, wind would be raised.
A cat’s sneeze is a sign of rain.
Victorians used cats in divination by concentrating on a question. If one came into the room, leading with the right foreleg, the answer was yes.
If a stray cat comes to a home, money should follow.
When a black cat crosses a road, the next person passing by is granted a wish.
Wearing an amulet with a cat on it protects travelers.
In Asia and the U.K., a black cat is considered lucky.
In Yorkshire, England, it may be lucky to own a black cat, but it is unlucky have one cross your path.
To dream of a black cat is lucky. On the other paw, seeing a black cat in your dream indicates that you are experiencing some fear in using your psychic abilities and believing in your intuition.
A funeral procession meeting up with a black cat is believed to forecast the death of another family member.
In 16th century Italy, people believed that if someone was sick he would die if a black cat lay on his bed.
In North America, it's considered bad luck if a black cat crosses your path and good luck if a white cat crosses your path.
In the U.K., switch the colors, I guess unless you live in Yorkshire. Finding a white hair on a black cat brings good luck. Don't pluck it though, or your luck may turn bad.
A strange black cat on a porch brings prosperity to the owner. (Scottish Lore)
A black cat seen from behind portends a bad omen. (And a black cat seen from the front is a GOOD omen?)
If a black cat walks towards you, it brings good fortune, but if it walks away, it takes the good luck with it.
If a black cat crosses your path while you're driving, turn your hat around backwards and mark an X on your windshield to prevent bad luck.
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