Why are black cats traditionally a witch’s familiar?
I did some of my own research so hopefully this is right. Feel free to correct any historical inaccuracies or add your own knowledge.
- Cats were once worshiped across ancient civilizations, especially Ancient Egypt. They were a symbol of multiple goddesses.
- Once Rome became Christian, all Pagan practices went out the window.
- At the beginning of the agricultural age people started bringing cats with them wherever they migrated because they were so good at keeping mice at bay. Since people were storing grain this was especially important.
- Kittens were even given to newlywed couples as a housewarming gift to bring good luck.
- When men went to war and women became widows, they were often left with just their cats for company. Hence the “lonely woman with cats” stereotype.
- These widowed old women who lived alone were also the most likely to be accused of witchcraft and burned at stake.
- A Pope in medieval times declared that cats were satanic and many cats were burned alive. This was a huge mistake on the part of humans as the mice and rat population consequently skyrocketed, leading to the Black Plague.
- Black cats, with their unusually dark fur and yellow eyes were thought to be the familiars of witches, even being able to transform into humans and do evil deeds.
Overall, black cats and witches share a very similar history. Once revered in the Ancient times only to become ostracized once Christianity took hold of the world. Black cats were once a symbol of multiple Goddesses- something that the patriarchy of the church hated. They shared the same fate of being burned for suspicion of being ungodly and Pagan. But in reality, black cats and women, whether witches or not, were all too often each others only companions.
Today, there is much confusion about black cats. Whether or not they are good or bad luck varies country by country. Because of this old superstition, they are the least likely to be adopted in animal shelters even though they make some of the best companions. As someone with the most affectionate, silly, funny, and playful black cat, I highly recommend adopting one. They need you and we need them.
Walking Under Ladders: In the Middle Ages hanging was the most common way to execute someone. Ladders were propped against the gallows to allow the prisoner to climb up to the noose and again when the executioner collected the body. Since the criminals were thought unfit for Heaven it was believed that their souls stayed near the gallows. Therefore walking under the ladder allowed the unclean souls to touch you.
Breaking a Mirror: Many ancient cultures believed that one’s soul was transferred into their reflected image. Breaking a mirror meant that the soul was also damaged.
Black Cats: Traditionally cats, especially black cats were revered. For example, Norse Goddess Freya ride a chariot pulled by black cats. During Medieval times the black cat came to represent paganism and witchcraft.
-All information from Chloe Rhodes’ book “Black Cats & Evil Eyes”
Hey I forgot to post this. And no matter what I do tumblr makes it blurry- fullview please!
My submission to the FAUnited 2017 conbook contest! Originally I wanted to stray from the stereotypical medieval tropes and go for a “dark cult magic” theme… but then I decided that I also wanted to create something fun and vibrant. I’m pretty happy with the end result! I got the paper texture from freecreatives.com
Walrus ivory comb, double-edged, fine teeth on one side, coarse on the other. Carved with pair of cat-like animals and a serpent. Late Anglo-Saxon, 10th/11th century. British Museum Registration number: 1957,1002.1
Decorated wtih cats, that is. I don’t think anyone actually used this on their cats. Good luck with that.
The sky was low and grey like fresh ashes, snowflakes billowing ever so slowly into the almost still air before falling down on the already white landscape all around the castle. It was as if time itself had stopped to let the ice and snow take over the hills, the roads, the rooftops and the pavement in the courtyards. The whole world was suspended in a strange stasis made of black, dead trees, old grey stones, some brown patches of mud and an immaculate duvet of pure white snow.
Cat sighed and teared her eyes away from the windows.
The inside of her study was a stark contrast to the outside world, glowing with warm nuances of orange and gold. The fireplace was roaring with the sound of burning logs and the high flames casted a welcoming light across the shelves of books and the wooden furniture spread across the place. Candles were strategically scattered along the walls and around her desk to chase away the cold shadows of the winter weather, adding more gold and more yellow flickers to the soft tones in the room.
She moved away from the windows and came to sit behind her desk, her fingers instantly starting to drum across the polished surface in a gesture that betrayed her impatience.
Finally, a knock on the door echoed across the walls inside of the study. She briefly shouted an order to let the intruder know they were awaited, and soon enough, Carter appeared in the doorframe with his loyal dog sitting next to his right leg.
“You asked to see me, mother?” He took a few steps inside and closed the wooden panel behind him. The dog instantly came to lay down by the fireplace with his head on his pawns, turned towards his master.
“Yes, Carter. Please, have a seat.” Cat answered with a flourish of her hand, showing him one of the two strict chairs in front of the desk. He narrowed his baby blue eyes at the general disposition of the scene and he shook his head no.
“If it is alright with you, I would prefer to stay standing.” Cat arched a brow at him, but he quite literally stood his ground, without faltering in the slightest.
“I see. In that case …” Cat stood up as well and moved towards the small table located by the couches, near the fireplace. There was a silver plate atop it, with a crystal bottle revealing a beverage whose color changed with every flicker of the flames. The queen poured herself a glass and made it swirl between her fingers, gently, slowly. The amber of the liquid flickered with gold and dark strands of honey before she took a sip, humming appreciatively at the taste.
“I assume you know why I wanted to see you.” Cat’s voice was barely above a whisper, but she was staring at her son, not missing the sparkle of annoyance that shone in his eyes for a split second.
“I have an inkling, yes.” He answered and she had to give it to him, he was acting like a true Grant. He was calm, collected and poised like the king he would become, one day soon.
“Perfect. Now, you can explain to me why Kara is somehow refusing to look me in the eyes and why she always finds some terrible excuses to leave the room whenever you enter it.” Cat ordered with a pointed glare.
She was tired of Kara’s behavior and she had tried to give her space and time, but when it became obvious to her that the knight would never take the first step to talk about it, Cat had decided she would ask her son instead.
“What a strange question, mother,” Carter replied and she saw the shadow of a smirk across his lips. “However, here is something stranger. You’re asking me to explain Kara’s behavior … Shouldn’t you ask her?”
He knew exactly where this discussion was heading and he didn’t even try to hide it. Instead, he was confronting her already and a part of her was proud of him for being such an astute and clever interlocutor.
“Let’s cut to the chase, shall we? I know you have something to do with the way she is acting lately and I would very much like to know why. You said something to her, didn’t you?” Cat snapped and she gulped her glass of whiskey before pouring herself a new one.
As clever and astute he was, Carter only debuted in the art of talking like a politician and Cat had decades of training behind her. However, even if two could play that game, today she wanted answers, not to waste any time in a verbal joust against her son.
“I did. I warned her that should she break your heart one more time, I would banish her from my kingdom.” Carter was looking right into her eyes as he spoke.
The blunt admission took Cat’s breath away and she needed a moment to overcome her surprise. A handful of seconds was all she needed to realize the damage those words could have had on Kara’s mind.
Cat stayed silent for a whole minute before slowly, ever so slowly, walking up to her son.