Sunday, 11 June 2017
Myths & Legends
In many native American cultures Cats had powers of life and death, corresponding to those of the Egyptian god Bast. Warriors wearing cat masks would partake in ceremonies, hoping that the spirit of dead cats would enter their bodies and give them feline stealth and cunning.
One of the holiest cats in history was Meuzza, which belonged to Mohammed. According to legend, the prophet was called to prayer one day. The cat was asleep on his arm and rather than wake the cat, Mohammed cut the sleeve from his robe and set it down with the dozing cat.
According to the Koran, the cat is the essence of purity. A cat hospital was built in Bab-el-Nasz, and it was considered a blessing to bring food to the patients. It is unlawful to chase cats from Mosques.
According to lore contributed to the Dutch, only on Christmas eve, and then only in private, do cats get on their knees, fold their paws together, shut their eyes and pray. It is not known what they pray for? Though legend has it that they get what they wish for, which is why not a creature is stirring that night "not even a mouse."
In Norse mythology, the cat was the special animal of Freyja, the Scandinavian goddess of fertility, beauty, love and marriage. In this capacity the equivalent of a Judeo-christian angel cats were responsible for drawing her chariot through the skies. It was considered good luck to get married on her namesake day - Friday, since this guaranteed fertility for the newly weds.
Cats and Lions were considered sacred in ancient China, presumed to have the power to repel evil with a glance or roar, respectively, and to protect crops from predators. These animals were sometimes pictured with wings, as befitted their celestial status. As Lions became extinct, the Chinese bred the Pekinese dogs to resemble them and take their place in holy pantheon.
Some cats did not stay in the afterworld long enough to be considered angels. As far back as the fifth century A.D., both Chinese and Japanese mystics believed that good people were reincarnated, not as people, but as cats. That is why when cats showed up on doorsteps they were taken in and pampered. Many Buddhists and Hindu sects believe that going from human to a cat is a step forward in achieving Nirvana, a state of perfect freedom from pain and worry.
According to an old European folktale, when cats were first created they had wings, but they preyed on birds and threatened them with extinction. So God took away their cat wings though he turned their flutter into a purr, reminding kittens of the time and form which they were most content.
Cats are not mentioned anywhere in the Bible, which may have to do with their importance, as deities, to the Egyptians. On the other hand, there are a number of dogs in the bible, which might also explain their abscence.
In ancient cultures the cat was both a solar and lunar animal. It was said to be psychic and could predict coming disasters people thought it could also affect the weather.
Many deities were connected to some branch of the cat family. Artemis and Diana were both called the Mother of cats; the Roman goddess Liberty was portrayed with a cat at her feet. Although the followers of Zoroaster believed that cat were familiars of the evil god Ahriman the Moslems believed the cat was a good creature given by Allah to help humans. The Hindu goddess Shasti rides a cat; the symbol of prolific fertility and birth.
In Celtic traditions cats were associated with the underworld powers, the dead, and prophecy. Often they were portrayed as evil creatures, but this may have been the wildcat, in Celtic countries, which were untamed. Irish legends tell of a cat called little cat who was a guardian of treasure.