Cats (Felines)
Ancient History

Where does the black cat superstition originate?

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Answered 2012-02-29 09:54:53

The bottom of all this to my opinion, is the colour black.

It was the colour of the old European (Roman, Celtic German goddess of fertility Mother Earth, giving the later "black madonna's". Which was not exclusively European ( Compare ISIS!!) Black was regarded as the colour of the earth, the goddesses' first element. Her second element was water, giving the colour blue.

The elements of the male god ( in the sky) were air and fire ( sun)

While druids were dressed in white, with red ribbons ( white= air, red = fire, sun ) it is too little known that there were female druids that were dressed in black with blue ribbons.

E.g.: In a certain period ( GERmanic) the goddes was called GER, giving GERTRUDE as being the female druid (=trude.Male druid = trudO) of GER.

Before, in Celtic period , she was called Cella ( CELtic)in Western Europe en HELLA in Eastern Europe ( cfrHELLas, HELLena, Hellenic )

Being mother earth, "the life-giving one ", her "home" was the black earth below, That became the HELL for Christianity A HOLE in the ground was an entrance to her home, and HOLY were the days of her feasts, or a tree dedicated to her.

A Hell- or Holestreet on the European mainland goes from the centre to the North, as North was the direction to find the mother goddess the dark/black night where the sun never shines( North).

As Ger/Cella /Hella was the wise (mother nature) and gave life those female priests were the "wisewoman" - les Femmes Sages ( = midwifes) that assisted on birth. They knew also a lot of herbal medicine: they had a huge knowledge of nature, their goddesses products.

And the honour they payed to to Ger was by masses were black was THE colour.

Christianity convicted those black masses and this "black magic" and it got a bad name, as well as the colour black itself.

The female druids where mostly accompanied by a cat with the holy black color. And as black was "from the devil" since Christianity black cats where too.

Much later, when Inquisition wanted to chase the new religions in the cities, they still encountered the rest of the old one in the countryside: the wiccas.

They where burned as witches together with their black cats, or the cats where thrown from the belfry towers.

I have no info why in England or elsewhere black cats are harmless. But as England is very traditional, and still very Celtic... knowing that black was a GOOD colour in Celtic times, one should look in that direction...The old idea that black colour being "a good colour" was not totally erased by chrsitianity, it seems. Till very recent, black was regarded as a "female" colour and my mother used to where it in mass before. The black for funerals (life/death, mother earth) is the same.

So traditions are stubborn

Another Answer

It is an interesting note that beliefs in the UK tend to run opposite those in America. In England the white cat is considered unlucky, the black being a bringer of good fortune, except in East Yorkshire where, while it is lucky to own a black cat, it is unlucky to come across one. In Belgium, Spain, Germany, and some other European countries the common aversion to black cats is shared with the American view.

In western history, black cats have long been looked upon as a symbol of bad omens. Cats among other animals Britannic/Celtic regions, currently known as the UK, also regarded hares with the same animosity as the cat) were sacred to certain pagan goddesses. When Christianity spread to regions that practiced traditional tribal religions the church sought to convert these natives. It would take far too long to get into the entire process of stamping out native traditions and replacing christian ones, as more of the local populations converted the church began to "demonize" symbols of the old religion, it was a form of propaganda designed to suppress the customs that did not fit in with their religious practices. Along with labels of witches and sorcerers was spread the notion that these magicians could shape-shift into cats (hares, etc) and skulk around in the night cursing their neighbors and communing with the devil or doing other perverse and evil things. Cats were slaughtered en Mass in some areas, believed to be wicked witches that must be destroyed. This practice and superstitious belief started in areas of what is now the UK before and most especially during the witch trials in these areas and persisted long after. When the "pilgrims" and British colonists came over to the New World, they brought it with them and it has remained with us in the idea that a black cat is an ill omen.

One of the prevalent black cat superstition alive in our the western culture today is if a black cat crosses your path, it is considered bad luck. Interestingly, in most other cultures, the black cat is a prized possession & owning one is said to bring the owner good luck.

The origin of the black cat & good luck is said to have begun in ancient Egypt with the sacred black cat of BAST. BAST is an official deity of Egypt in the 22nd dynasty. During her reign, Egyptians courted her favors, by keeping black cats in their houses, believing that she would become part of the cat in spirit & grace their home with riches & prosperity.

Charles I of England (1600-1649) owned a black cat. He loved the cat so much so that he had guards protecting the cat 24 hours a day, until one day the cat fell in & died. Charles I was heard to proclaim, "Alas my luck is gone." True enough, he was arrested the next day & charged with high treason. He was later put to his death.

In Sumatra, during a long drought, a black cat is found and thrown into the river. The village folk would line the bank, forcing the cat to swim until almost exhausted. Once the cat is exhausted they allow the cat to get out of the water. The women of the village then chase the black cat while throwing water on the cat and themselves. This is supposed to bring rain. Although this tradition might bring good luck to the village, pity the poor cat that has the bad luck of being chosen for this!

In the Yorkshires, a black cat was said to bring the fishermen home safely from the seas. During the most prominent part of the fishing industry in this village, black kittens were often catnapped and sold to the highest bidder (usually the wives of the fishermen) by racketeers trying to cash in on the popular superstition.

In parts of Europe, if a black cat crosses your path, you are considered to have good fortune. If a black cat walks into your house or home, you are truly blessed. But in the United States, the term Black Cat was used by the fishermen and sailors of Michigan's Lake Superior for a boat that was believed to have a spell cast upon it and therefore, never will carry a full crew.

The attitude towards black cats is said to change sometime around the pilgrims arriving at Plymouth Rock. The pilgrims were devout Christians & they were deeply suspicious of anything deemed of the devil. Comprised of England's & Europeans, these pilgrims viewed black cat as a companion or a familiar to witches. Anyone caught with a black cat would be severely punished or even killed. They viewed the black cat as part demon and part sorcery.

When the Christians gained a foothold in America they also propelled this myth forward, during a time when witches were coming into fruition in America. Sharing a sisterhood with witches in England, and rumored to use black cats as an integral part of their craft. Black cats were suddenly cast into a bad light many black cats were sought after and killed. If a farmer believed his land had a spell cast upon it, the only way to break that spell was to shoot a black cat with a silver bullet.

Ask anyone what comes to mind when black cat is mentioned and cat lovers will inevitably say: mysterious, alluring, beautiful, playful, elegant and gorgeous. But non-cat owners would come up with: bad luck, witches familiar, evil, demonic, mean, spooky and Halloween... So you can see the superstition lives on even today.

Here are more superstitions from all around the world. Some are good & some, not necessarily so:

  • A black cat seen from behind foretells a bad omen -- Unknown
  • A strange black cat on your porch brings prosperity -- Scottish
  • A black cat crossing ones path by moonlight means death in an epidemic -- Irish
  • A black cats carry demons -- Unknown
  • If a black cat walks towards you, it brings good fortune, but if it walks away, it take the good fortune with it.
  • It is believed that if a black lived in the house, the young lass would have plenty of suitors -- English
  • It is believed that if you find one white hair on a black cat, Lady Luck will smile upon you -- French
  • While it is lucky to own a black cat, it is extremely unlucky to come across one accidentally -- English
  • It is considered bad luck to pass a black cat at 9pm
  • It is thought that a reincarnated soul may be liberated by throwing a black cat into a fire -- Indian
  • Women could change their soul into a black cat & that any harm brought to the cat would be suffered by the women -- Bengali
  • It is thought that black cats were reincarnated being able to divine the future -- Celtic
  • It is believed that if a black cat jumped on the bed of a sick person it meant death is near -- German
  • It is thought that black cats were thought to carry the souls of the dead to the other world -- Finnish
  • It is thought that the presence of a black cat foretold of poverty -- Chinese
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Related Questions

What is the superstition about the black cat?

The superstition is that the black cat is a familiar of witches and can talk. It is also thought that black cats are bad luck. If you see a black cat in the path then you have to go by another route.

What happens in Scottish superstition if a strange black cat is seen on the porch?

In Scottish superstition a black cat in the close vicinity of a home means great luck and prosperity.

Do black cat mean good or bad luck?

The superstition is your in for bad luck if a black cat crosses your path.

Where did the black cat superstition originate?

If a black cat walks towards you, it brings good fortune, but if it walks away, it takes the good luck with it. Keep cats away from babies because they "suck the breath" of the child. A cat onboard a ship is considered to bring luck. These Superstitions? How is this an answer?

If a black cat crossses your path will it give ayou bad luck?

No, that's just superstition. It is said to be superstitious but it is said that a black cat crossing your path is bad luck. No it will not, this is just a superstition brought on by someone who thought of a black cat as something witches possessed.

Did Noah Webster start the whole black cat superstition in America because he was a racist?

No the whole black cat "superstition" came around because in medieval times witches had black cats that they could supposedly transform into. They were commonly black cats.

How and why did the black cat superstition come true?

I have a feeling it is because of the fact that one of the most popular familiars for witches is a black cat. And back then they were mightily afraid of witches...i think that's where the Friday the 13 superstition came from as well. But of course not all witches are evil, so i don't think the black cat superstition really is true

When a black cat walks past you how do you get rid of the bad luck?

The superstition says that if a black cat crosses your path, you will be plagued by bad luck. Fortunately, this is only a superstition and there is no scientific basis for the rumor. If a black cat is walking in front of you, the best way to avoid bad luck is to not trip over the cat.

Is a black cat dangeres?

No, unless you are threatening it. The old "black cat running in front of you means that you will have bad luck" thing is superstition.

Why would witches choose a black cat for their pet?

Because a black cat is associated with superstition. Its also lucky! Unless it crosses your path!!!

Black cats superstition?

It is a widely believed superstition that seeing a black cat is bad luck. This dates back to the Middle Ages when people began to associate black cats with devilry and witchcraft.

Are black cats haunted?

i don't think they are Haunted.because I have a black cat at my house. its just a "superstition" (did i spelled it rigth) they say that because in the old times of witch crafting witches used to have black cats as pets and witches casted a spell of bad luck on the cat so it go roaming around people causing "BAD LUCK" its a "Superstition" just like stepping on cracks...Answer 2: No it's not true it's only a superstition.Mudstar of meadowclan speaking: Just a superstition, I have two all black cats and one black and white cat.But it is a superstition so it depends on what you think

What events from the black cat seem to prove the wife's superstition about the cats to be correct?

A second black cat, very similar to the narrator's first cat, appears out of nowhere --APEX

Sentence with the word omen?

Superstition has it that a black cat crossing your path is an omen of ill fortune.

Does having a black cat cross your path really bring bad luck?

A black cat crossing your path is supposed to bring bad luck is an old superstition.

Myths and belief of cats are really there?

=^..^= Cat Superstitions A strange black cat on your porch brings prosperity. - Scottish superstition A cat sneezing is a good omen for everyone who hears it. - Italian superstition Dreaming of white cat means good luck. - American superstition If a cat washes behind its ears, it will Rain. - English superstition A black cat crossing one's path by moonlight means death in an epidemic. - Irish superstition It is bad luck to cross a stream carrying a cat. (Although my personal thought on this is that its likely to scratch you to death, hence the bad luck!) - French superstition In the Netherlands, cats were not allowed in rooms where private family discussions were going on. The Dutch believed that cats would definitely spread gossips around the town. When the pupil of a cat's eye broadens, there will be rain. - Welsh superstition

What does a cat mean at Halloween?

If you're thinking about the black cat superstition, it's not true. Unless the cat was following you on Halloween, I wouldn't think it was too significant.

How did the superstition of the black cat get started?

Black cats were thought of as being related to witches, and witches were thought to take the form of black cats when they wanted to be discreet. Thus, it was bad luck to meet a black cat.

Black cat superstition?

it is not superstition but warning that something is going to harm or death awaiting only during that time it cross the street or run sideways when we walk on the street.

When driving my car a black cat runs across the street in front of me is it bad luck?

It is bad luck for the cat. The belief that black cats are a sign for bad luck is a common superstition.

What does it mean when a black cat crosses the street?

In superstition, depending on where you come from, it either means bad luck or you are in danger. In normal society it is simply a black cat walking across the street.

France believe cat are good or bad luck?

They share a common superstition concerning black cats, but not to such an extent as not to adopt black cats...

What happens if you see a black cat at night?

Superstition surrounds black cats including that if a black cat crosses your path will cause bad luck to happen to you before your journey is over and a black cat walking toward you is sign of good luck. While there are superstitions, the truth is that nothing will happen to you if you see a black cat at night.

What happens when you cross paths with a black cat on Friday the thirteenth?

Nothing. Superstition is just a form of human paranoia

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