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When Black Cats Are Seen Tis Near Halloween

Nell loves nature and has studied Witchcraft, Paganism and Herb law all her life.

Black Cats Halloween

Black Cats Halloween

Ye Old Witch of Marric, Hester Dale, spelled Robert George Turnbull of Marske on ye old bridge. His horse would not move until Tom Wilson came with a Rowan branch and swept her out. She ran over the road as a big black cat. Since then the bridge is haunted by her. The cat can be heard yowling at night.

The diary of a Whitby man 1757.

Demon Cat Gif

Demon Cat Gif

When Witches go riding,

And black cats are seen,

The moon laughs and whispers,

Tis near Halloween.

— Unknown

Bastet or Basket?

The Cat is a mysterious creature. There was a time when the Egyptian goddess Sekhmet or Bastet, whose form was part feline became a stranger myth and legend. It wove down through time turning into the demonic images of Flauros and Haborym. This in turn morphs into the image of the Familiar or Witches Cat which we know of today.

However, not all historians trace the cat back to the Egyptian Pantheon. They believe that the magical mythical cat actually comes from Rome or Greece.

In Roman times the goddess of Liberty was seen as holding a cup in one hand, a sceptre in the other, and the cat or cats were lying at her feet.

Sadly most of the old-time gods and goddesses were soon demoted in our psychology to become demons. And then it was an easy path for the animals to follow.

These days they spend most of their time laying asleep in their baskets. But still very regal!

A cat in a hat

A cat in a hat

The Demon Cat

What had been a most sacred cat, the companion to Isis, who was the Queen of the Night, turned into a monstrous Familiar. Not only companion to the Queen of Darkness, but hence to the more familiar, witches cat.

The witches familiar has a curious history. According to the witchcraft literature across the centuries, the true familiar was a demon in disguise. And it was given by the devil to each witch who then attended a Sabbat and was made to join the evil band of sisters.

Such familiars were called Imps. Some of these familiars were invisible, but many appeared to their mistress in the form of animals or twisted evil humans. Some even appeared as sweet innocent children, ready to lure adults into becoming witches.

But the most familiar of them all was the black cat. Of course, not all cat familiars were black. Any elderly woman who made posy's or steeped herbs and had a cat was often called a witch. And many ended up on a Dunking stool over a pond, or even burned as a witch. And it was the cat that brought attention to the poor woman!

Goddess Isis and Demon Cat

Goddess Isis and cat.

Goddess Isis and cat.

The Heretic Feline

By Medieval times the ancient love for the cat had been transformed by mainly Christian superstition into fear and hatred. And the cat was seen as an instrument of the Devils whim.

Strangely enough, the cat was often seen in old paintings portraying a heretic. I would imagine this was because of the connection to darkness and the spirits that lived there.

And witchcraft was itself seen as the most appalling heresy of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.

In fact, James 1st and 6th of England and Scotland was guilty of more than just being a rather eccentric King.

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The Heretic Cat in Medieval History

The Heretic Cat in Medieval History

King James the Killer of Witches

King James 1st (1566 -1625) didn't exactly prove himself a trustworthy guy when he first took the throne.

He was the son of Mary Queen of Scots. When Elizabeth 1st died childless, James was given the crown and he had to leave Scotland and take to the throne in England.

He was leaving one of the most prolific murder capitals of the world. As some have called it, the holocaust of witches.

For such a tiny country, Scotland had burned, and hung, over 4,000 innocent women as witches. More than anywhere else in the world.

And that was before he moved down to England. He was also the only monarch to write a book on the subject. Hence one of the most famous witch books in history was written. Daemonologie - The Science of Demons.

He was so terrified of witches, believing they were out to get him, that he murdered thousands to stop the so called evil. In fact, when he was nearly drowned at sea, he believed it was witches who had cursed him!

Shakespeare found the whole thing so fascinating, it gave him the incentive to write Macbeth! Who knew?

Oh, and he hated cats! Can't think why can you?

James 1st/6th England and Scotland. Mad as a bag of crickets.

James 1st madness

James 1st madness

'Witches have their Spirits, some hath one, some hath more as two, three, four, or five. Some in one likeness and some in another as like cats, weasels, toads or mice, whom they nourish with milke or a chicken. Or by letting them suck now and then a drop of blood.'

— George Giffard 16th Century


Accounts of how the witches would suckle the familiars sound very much like the stories of Vampires. In all the ancient Grimoires or witches' books, there are tales of how one might raise Demons. Taking it for granted that they will derive energy from the blood, whether it be an animal sacrifice or from the witch's veins.

One rather sinister example of feline vampirism is in a book called A Faithful Narrative (1652) by Samuel Petto.

He describes a witch named Abre Grinset of Dunwich in Suffolk, who confessed that the Devil appeared to her as a rather attractive man at first, but later in the form of a 'blackish Gray Cat' or kitling.

'That it sucketh of a teat' which was found on her body by her interrogators.

In another case, a young child who was supposedly bewitched, saw one of the witches suckle a white cat called Fillie. When later when she saw another demonic spirit suckling at the woman's breast she said;

'Thou are a cunning witch, indeed to let thy spirit suck there upon thy paps head, for nobody can find a mark upon thee.'

Black Cat and Candle

Black Cat and Candle

Black Cat and Candle

One of the most famous Old Wives Tales is that you should never let a cat lie with a child as it will lay on his or her face and suffocate them.

In fact it was far more sinister than that.

Nurses would believe the cat would suck the baby's breath and steal its life force.

So Dignity Is Restored.

By the end of the 17th Century, most witchcraft trials had come to an end and the craze was over. And the cat was given a reprieve and returned to his rightful place in poetry.

The eighteenth-century poet Christopher Smart wrote an amazing poem about his cat, Jeoffry. who was imprisoned with his master in a London Madhouse. In fact, it was probably the most famous of all.


As his madness progressed he began to see his cat as an adversary to the Devil. Or as he put it, 'A servant of the living God.'

'For he counteracts the powers of darkness by his electrical skin and glaring eyes.For he counteracts the Devil, who is death, by brisking about the life.'

So it seems our devilish cat has been put back on his pedestal where he or she rightly belongs.

Unless of course, you are standing under a full moon. Where it is said that madmen and cats converse together in a magical, devilish way!

Perhaps Not!

cat falling funny gif

cat falling funny gif

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This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2020 Nell Rose


Nell Rose (author) from England on October 21, 2020:

Thanks Bobbi, always great to see you!

Barbara Purvis Hunter from Florida on October 19, 2020:

HI Nell Rose,

I am a cat lover as well as I love dogs too. It is great to see you again and I hope all is well in your world. My cat's name is Baby. He is very smart and understands what I say.

Stay safe and well,

Until Later,

Bobbi Purvis

Nell Rose (author) from England on October 19, 2020:

Flourish, I just read your Golden hub. Love Golden rings the best. Its a shame I couldn't comment there.

Nell Rose (author) from England on October 18, 2020:

Hi Dora, it was awful wasn't it? Strangely and sadly enough, people are still superstitious about it now.

Nell Rose (author) from England on October 18, 2020:

Thanks Flourish, yes I totally agree with you. People were so superstitious back then.

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on October 18, 2020:

For a little while there, I was amazed that the beloved cat endured such vicious repute. It is the only pet I ever had. Very interesting article! I'm glad that it is still okay to love cats.

FlourishAnyway from USA on October 18, 2020:

We have three black cats among our brood and they are tender and kind, not evil at all. How terrible that anyone would mistreat any animal.

Nell Rose (author) from England on October 17, 2020:

Hi again Tim, I just read your married hub, but I can't comment. Great info though. Thanks

Nell Rose (author) from England on October 17, 2020:

Lol! I am sure you are a very cool cat Tim. Thanks as always.

Nell Rose (author) from England on October 17, 2020:

Lol! I am sure they will sort it out soon, thanks Doris.

Tim Truzy from U.S.A. on October 16, 2020:

Meow. Nell, this is a splendid article. We have a neighborhood cat who loves to visit with our dogs. It's atrocious what they did to these animals, but I don't mind being called a cool cat now and then. Peace be with you.

Doris James MizBejabbers from Beautiful South on October 15, 2020:

Hmmm, oh yes, my sockhops. Doesn't that really tell my age? It's too bad we can't comment on the niche sites right now. I've been disappointed several times because I couldn't. Thanks for reading it and telling me.

Nell Rose (author) from England on October 15, 2020:

HI Doris, just came back on here to say I read about your 50s hub. But I can't make a comment, sadly.

Nell Rose (author) from England on October 15, 2020:

Thanks Doris, I hadn't heard that before, but yes you could be right. As for killing them yes it was pretty stupid back then, lol!

Nell Rose (author) from England on October 15, 2020:

Lol! They certainly do Audrey! Thanks

Doris James MizBejabbers from Beautiful South on October 14, 2020:

Nell, this is a beautiful article, especially the photos. The one of Isis and her black cat is breathtakingly beautiful. I love all cats, but I'm especially partial to solid black ones and usually keep one around at all times. My hubby calls it "my familiar". He is a cat person or I'd never been attracted to him. I'm sure I've been a witch in a past life or two.

I abhor people who are mean to cats, and the Europeans who killed off the cats "because cats are evil" got what they deserved. They were overrun by rats that carried bubonic plague, and I believe it was 3/4s of them were wiped out.

Oh yes, cats are said to have come from Sirius A and are here to assist us to progress spiritually. Some say that cats and dogs are from Sirius A, and others say that cats are from Sirius A and dogs are from Sirius B. I don't know which is more factual, but I believe the former.

Audrey Hunt from Pahrump NV on October 14, 2020:

Wonderful! Black cats have taken a bad rap ... poor things. I love them all. "BCM" (Black Cats Matter!) :)

Thanks, Nell.

Nell Rose (author) from England on October 14, 2020:

Thanks Devika, always good to see you.

Nell Rose (author) from England on October 14, 2020:

Lol! Boo back at ya! Thanks Linda.

Nell Rose (author) from England on October 14, 2020:

It certainly does Liz, sadly.

Nell Rose (author) from England on October 14, 2020:

That is awful Peggy! Superstition is such a stupid thing when it involves hurting animals. I am so glad you gave her warmth and protection.

Nell Rose (author) from England on October 14, 2020:

Thanks Demas, always good to see you.

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on October 14, 2020:

Nell it is nearly Halloween again and another perfect hub for this time of the month. Interesting about black cats

Linda Rogers from Minnesota on October 13, 2020:

Hi Nell, I loved this Spooky historical information on cats. Perfect hub for the month of October. Boo!

Liz Elias from Oakley, CA on October 13, 2020:

@ Pamela: Sadly, the witch hunt never truly ended. They just found other groups to persecute:

There were the freed slaves, who were subject to all sorts of mistreatment and unfair laws applying only to them.

There was the McCarthy era communism freak-out, with people being blacklisted for being (assumed) to be affiliated with communist groups.

Then, there were the HIV victims, and the LGBTQ community in general.

Now, it's the attempt to cast anyone who does not share the same "values" (some of which are highly questionable), and beliefs as "those people," and as bad persons...

Just a few examples.

The list and the hunt goes on... :-(

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on October 13, 2020:

Black cats have been demonized needlessly for centuries. We once had a young black cat deliver kittens in our shrubbery. We located her kittens and found homes for them. We then trapped the mother cat and had her spayed. She had been horribly tortured and only had one eye. The vet said that she was not born that way. She also could not meow like normal. Poor thing! We could never pet her, but offered food, shelter, and warmth in our garage that she had access to year-round. Whoever did that to her will have some accounting to do in the next life!

Demas W Jasper from Today's America and The World Beyond on October 13, 2020:

This tour de force has been made literraly by you into a cat of nine tales! Well done.

Nell Rose (author) from England on October 13, 2020:

Thanks Brenda, yes its a great book. I was lucky enough to be given it years ago. Thanks for reading.

Nell Rose (author) from England on October 13, 2020:

I used to have cats Bill, but found I was allergic. Now its just dogs. Thanks as always.

BRENDA ARLEDGE from Washington Court House on October 13, 2020:


I so love my kitty cats so I had to read.

It spunds like an jnteresting book i will have to search for on kindle.

I don't know how anyone can get kitty to wear Halloween costumes...mine would play with that wig.

Thanks for the share.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on October 13, 2020:

That was a fun read. Thanks for the historical info on cats. Shhh, don't tell them, but I'm not much of a cat person. :)

Nell Rose (author) from England on October 13, 2020:

Thanks Chitrangada, I love black cats. Well all cats. We have always had at least two.

Nell Rose (author) from England on October 13, 2020:

Lol! Thanks John. I am sure they are sweet and innocent. Well maybe! lol!

Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on October 12, 2020:

Such an interesting and engaging article, and I enjoyed going through.

Your pictures are amazing, which made the whole reading experience enjoyable.

There are so many beliefs and sayings related to cats/ black cats in India too.

Thanks for sharing.

John Hansen from Gondwana Land on October 12, 2020:

What an interesting and informative article, Nell. I have five cats (one black eleven) so there must be pure evil in this house. Thank you for this wonderful history lesson.

Nell Rose (author) from England on October 12, 2020:

Thanks Pamela, yes it was pretty weird back then, lol!

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on October 12, 2020:

Thank goodness witchcraft trials came to an end as i don';t believe in witchcraft. This is an interesting article however.

Nell Rose (author) from England on October 12, 2020:

Wow, really Sherry? I can't believe it in this day and age! Thanks for sharing that. Amazing.

Nell Rose (author) from England on October 12, 2020:

Good to see you Lizzy! And well done for looking after the little one. I hope it all works out and she is fine.

Sherry Hewins from Sierra Foothills, CA on October 12, 2020:

A neighbor of mine took their cat to the pound because they were having a baby and believed that story about them sucking the baby's breath.

Liz Elias from Oakley, CA on October 12, 2020:


'Tis not the cats, but the people who are evil. There is a black stray that we have been feeding. She is very friendly, sits in our laps, loves to be petted...etc. We think some irresponsible person may have dumped her, because she is too friendly to be a feral kitty.

She was, though, at some point trapped, spayed and released (TNR program) for she has the telltale mark of the very tip of one of her ears missing. Sad that they have to disfigure the kitty, but it is the only way the volunteers can know that this is a cat they do not need to trap and take in, or can release if the same cat again goes into a trap cage.

We have had her inside my studio for nearly a month, now, because she was found very lethargic, and suffering from heat exhaustion one day during an extreme heat wave. (Temp hit about 110 degrees Farenheit!)

We got her cooled down, but it continued to be hot, so we kept her in with the fan running 24/7. However, we are not going to release her at this time of year, because of evil PEOPLE who sometimes catch and torture black cats at Halloween time...sick a-holes!

I'm hoping to introduce her to our clowder, but first we have to get her vetted, and then let them exchange scents via blanket swaps... meanwhile, she stays in the studio, and she is such a GOOD kitty! Goodness knows, with the cluster-bleep I've got going on out there, there are more than a few things she could get into, knock over, and otherwise mess up; but she hasn't.

Nell Rose (author) from England on October 12, 2020:

Thanks Shauna, I couldn't resist writing this when my friend got a black cat, lol!

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on October 12, 2020:

Nell, I'm a cat lover and have had cats all my life. I've even had a black cat who was anything but evil. Right now I have five, if you count the two outdoor cats that claimed my home as theirs for reasons only they know.

I always wondered why cats were considered evil back in the day. Now I know!

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