It’s that time again — time to explain to the black cat in your life why its image is on thousands of posters, cups, plates, hats, bags and other Halloween bibelots.
When I explained Halloween to my tuxedo cat several years ago she was offended and asked why black cats were associated with evil. To make her feel better, I reminded her that witches accompany black cats (or is it the other way around?) and the witches are all female. I wasn’t faring any better than she was.
“Are you a witch?” she asked.
“Some say yes and some say no,” I responded.
Although the sign of Leo is the lion, I don’t see cats as Leo, although they do tend to rule the household. If you argue for Leo, I won’t pick a fight.
Yet, for me, the sign of the zodiac that most describes cats is Aquarius, which is opposite of Leo. A salient characteristic of Aquarius is aloofness which some see as a salient characteristic of cats as well.
Cats also seem to have the ability to convene with spirits and ghosts, entities in the ethereal sphere where the finely-tuned Aquarian nervous system appears to reside as the corporeal Aquarian tunes out in front of you.
Whiskers on cats are like antennas, conduits of radio impulses, very Uranian (Uranus rules Aquarius).
Cats can be very affectionate but most seem to have an on-off switch, much like Aquarius. Cats also don’t drool with expression, like another common house pet that is allowed to accompany its owner to the park. Aquarians are rarely caught drooling with expression.
If your cat does something embarrassing, it maintains a detached dignity, much like Aquarius.
Cats march to the beat of a different drummer, much like Aquarius.
Cats are bored by humdrum conversation, much like Aquarius. Baby talk is for dogs.
The ancient Egyptians worshiped cats (as they should) and even have a god or two with feline characteristics. The most clearly cat-like (versus lion-like) god is Bastet. From my research this evening on the Internet and in books, I’m still a little confused about what energy this Bastet actually represents.
Bastet, sources agree, was daughter of the sun god. Like the authors of “Ancient Egypt,” many sources say she had both “gentle and fierce aspects.”
But what did she rule?
According to Encyclopedia Mythica, Bastet was one of the “Eyes of Ra” who would lay waste to enemies of Egypt. Anyone who lives with a feline is aware of their ability to stare enemies into submission. This is an appropriate duty for a cat god.
Other sources say Bastet ruled home and pregnancy. Per-Bast.org adds protection to the list.
Per “Ancient Egypt,” in the fifth century BC, Greek historian Herodotus happened upon the Bastet Festival at her cult center of Bubastis and described lots of singing and wine drinking (parties haven’t changed for millennia, have they?). Unfortunately, this doesn’t tell us much about Bastet’s role in the pantheon of gods.
This Bastet is very mysterious, just like your house cat, who is staring at you now and thinking . . .?
Somewhere in Europe in the Middle Ages (circa 600-1600) black cats (and cats in general) lost their revered status and became symbols of bad luck and witchcraft.
In the Middle Ages, it seems, the folks in Europe began associating negative or frightening experiences with the color black. In the West, the color of mourning is black (in China and India it is white). From a centuries-distant view, it’s almost like a collective depression which projected onto black stuff, including cats.
Today the black cat is associated with Halloween, a holiday that occurs at the very beginning of the sign of Scorpio.
Scorpio is the fixed water sign associated with intense feelings, power, intimacy, shared resources and death. No wonder the Day of the Dead (November 1) also occurs in Scorpio.
Today on NPR I heard an interview with Stephen King and he compared your first positive experience with horror (“you liked it”) with your first experience of sex. That comment describes very well Scorpio energy.
Because you like Stephen King doesn’t mean you’re evil. Horror, like other intense emotions, is cathartic. Horror stories help us purge negative energy.
Explaining it all to your cat
So how do you explain all this to your black cat?
“You were once revered but during a collective slump in spirit a heap of collective negativity was cast your way . . .”
While the adoption papers indicate my black cat was born in the sign of Scorpio, she seems much more like a Cancer to me – chatty, snuggly and sweet.
I decided to change my Halloween story for her.
“Black cats used to represent evil, but now represent the mysterious forces of the universe,” I explained to her this year.
I added that times have changed and we’re no longer in the Middle Ages.
“So people also don’t fear powerful women flying through the air?” she asked.
“Of course not.”