Cat Mythology 101: The Power of Cats in Myth, Religion and Legend

Scottish Fold Cat

Is the cat your spirit animal? The cat plays a vital role in mythology, religion and legend around the world. Ancient texts and artwork prove the power and persistence of the cat in the minds and hearts of people. Simply put, since ancient days we have loved cats and included them in our worship. In fact, cat worship, revering the cat as a god, has been practiced for thousands of years.

Ancient Times, Egyptian Theology and Cats

Cats in Ancient Egypt

The people of ancient Egypt worshiped the cat god, Bastet, as one of their highest deities. Bastet, also known as Bast, is associated with the Goddess Isis. Isis is often depicted as a female goddess accompanied by black cats. According to famed Tarot artist and tarot historian, A. E. Waite, it is the goddess Isis that we see depicted on the High Priestess card of the tarot deck and his book The Key to the Tarot (1911).

Bast, the ancient Egyptian cat goddess, is mother of all queens- mother of all mothers- mother of all people. She is known as a female child of Ra, first born of Ra- Ra is a god that includes both genders and is therefore, not considered a ‘he’ or a ‘she’ in contemporary conversation. Ra is all; Ra is both father and mother of all. Ra is also known as the god of all gods. Ra’s worshipers are known by the sun emblem. To ancient Egypt, the appearance of the sun each morning was physical proof that Ra lived and walked among them.

As first mother of all, Bast, the cat goddess of ancient Egypt had a very powerful role in the religion that was popular in what was called Babylon at the time. In many ways, via Ra’s daughter, the religion of Egypt was, in fact, a religion of the cats.

Cat Superstition and Fears in Folklore and Myth

Black Cat

Do you dare to let a black cat cross your path? Careful! He might be a witch's familiar, or even a shape changing witch or warlock. Cat mythology is filled with tales of fears about cats.

Folk tales warn of the dangerous and malicious power of the cat. These tales of cats bringing illness, death and bad luck have been popular for centuries and still persist in our time. According to experts, including National Geographic, it is extremely difficult to trace the roots of the types of beliefs that we call ‘superstitions.’ They are partly defined by the fact that we can’t trace the beliefs to any actual events.

Animal rescue specialists claim that superstitions based on the false belief that bad luck might happen if you own, or even see a black cat, have led to less opportunities for timely pet adoption for cats that are black in all cat breeds.

Cat Celebration and Cat Worship Today

Cats Musical
Cat lovers do unite around the world to praise and to pamper their beloved feline friends. In fact, temples are in use today throughout Japan that are dedicated to a cat god, so and so. Fishermen especially visit these temples as shrines, as so and so is known to be the patron god of bountiful fishing. 
The Andrew Lloyd Webber Broadway musical Cats, is still an award winning, record breaking blockbuster. Cats is inspired by the poetry of T.S. Eliot entitled Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats (1939).. 
In addition to the show Cats, we also have the State, National and International Cat Shows, and many organizations dedicated to preserving knowledge about the history of cats and devoted to celebrating their domestication. 

 

What's you favorite cat fact from history? Tell us in the comments!




Christine Whitt
Christine Whitt

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