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Black Cat

There are conflicting theories as to whether the black cat represents good or bad.

Generally, it is a colour symbolising mystery and darkness. The black cat was the supposed form of the devil and is associated with witches.


Witches Cat

Off to sweep the cobwebs from the sky...

Think of a Witch and most people visualise a wart-covered hag, flying through the air on a broomstick, with a black cat sitting behind. In reality, the cat first became involved with the cult of witchcraft way back in ancient Egypt.

Highest among the gods of those days was Bast (pronounced Pasht) - the great Cat-headed Goddess, thought to be the companion of Ra the Sun God. She became identified with the female aspects of the god, particularly Isis the Moon Goddess. Witches were once the priestesses of Isis - thereby linking cats and witches.

In the 13th century, the first witchcraft trials were held, the cat suffered greatly. Pagan religions held that witches turned into cats. Cats were blamed for everything from souring the beer to spreading disease. It was commonly believed that their teeth contained venom and that their breath caused disease and infection. Any cat that was seen in the company of an old woman was assumed to be a witch's associate. Hundreds of unfortunate cats were burned alive by people who believed they did the work of the devil.

In the 15th century when witch-hunting was at its height, the massacre of thousands of women and cats was excused as a way to cast out evil spirits.

A common belief among many pagan religions was that witches took the form of cats at sundown. It has been recorded that in the year 1718 a William Montgomery of Cathiness alleged that hundreds of cats gathered outside his house nightly, and spoke in human language. He claimed that he killed two of them and awoke the next morning to the news that two of the area's old women were mysteriously found dead in their beds.

By the 17th century, the cat once again gained favour by virtually saving Europe from the ravages of the great plague by controlling the rat population. In 1822 the first anti-cruelty law to protect animals was passed in Britain.

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, one 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.

Just think of a black cat slinking through the shadows in the dead-of-night, only the chilling glare of green eyes giving him away - spooky or what!

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