Tuesday, October 27, 2009 3:43 PM

Cats and Witchcraft


For centuries, cats have been associated with witches. Our modern minds recognize that the days of truly believing in cats and women as instruments of the devil are long gone, representing days of ignorance and cruelty at which we can only shake our heads. At this time of year, such ideas are made fun of, and we all have a good laugh as we dress up in our black hats, grab our stuffed "familiar" and skip off to another Halloween party.

People really did believe such things at one time, though. It makes one wonder how cats and women became the symbol of satanic deeds--particularly in this country, where our forebears came to be free of such things as repression, shadowy pasts and religious restrictions.

As I mentioned in yesterday's post, cats were persecuted for centuries after being previously deified by the ancient Egyptians. Can you think of another group similarly misused? Women! Desmond Morris makes the suggestion in Catlore that old "crones", never married due to their ugliness or whatever, became fringe dwellers of various towns and villages. Cats became their companions, as they were not especially welcome, either. If anyone picked on their pets, these women would shout curses and, when inevitably something happened to one of these miscreants, these "witches" and their "familiars" would be blamed.

I would expound a bit more on this idea. Not only old crones get banished from repressive societies. Any woman not married, not wanting to marry, having an independent streak, acting more intelligent than the menfolk, etc. would be fair game for the "witch" moniker. And smart, independent women would, naturally, have pet cats! People love to scapegoat others, particularly those who have no defenses. If one's crops don't flourish, don't blame yourself, or even the weather--blame the gal down the street who acts so high and mighty. We've all heard about the Salem Witch Trials, where young girls were brainwashed into accusing unpopular townspeople of witchcraft. Unfortunately, this is an unsavory side of human nature that persists to this day, if not exactly in this format.

Well, we've come a long way, baby. Luckily, we humans have come full circle and now, once more, appreciate cats for the beautiful, intelligent loving companion animals that they are. Now, if we could just raise the perceived value of all women do a few more notches...

Tomorrow: Black cats redux!
Chat later!

2 Comments On "Cats and Witchcraft"

Margaret Says:
October 27, 2009 at 8:39 PM

Tanks for posting great info and material on all things cats.
Very original.

October 27, 2009 at 11:48 PM

The cat is a creature of survival and so amazing
to have survived the past persecution of their
species.

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Amanda
Amanda has worked with animals for many years and has always had cats in her life. She lives in Massachusetts with her husband and two excellent cats.
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