I read a book yesterday entitled The Mysterious, Magical Cat. Sounds like a children’s book, eh? Well, it was actually very much a wealth of, hopefully researched, history of cats from the earliest of accounts drawn from cave dwellings, artifacts, and misc. documentation. The Phoenicians supposedly utilized felines as a form of currency due to their great value in the days’ society. Black cats were rarer and thus, worth a great bit more. Egyptians worship of cats extended through the Gods that were named after them and whose pictures were drawn and statue-like relics were made and found by archeologists. Bast was the body of cat and head of woman and was called upon for personal, gentle aid, often tied to the moon, as in symbolically representing the phase-change influence over behavior and action of cats. Cats, as described were like the sun Ra, another cat-God, as were Osiris, Sekhmet, Pakheth, Apollo, and others. Sekmet was “the great one of magic” and was always called upon for protection. They were protectors of the Sun god and destroyers of his enemies. In Rome, Diana, the Moon Goddess and protector from evil. Due to the austere stature and uncanny insight into people’s nature, especially in their behaviors alerting humans of warnings, not only of people but of changing or foreboding weather conditions, earthquakes, floods, and the like. Their instinctual abilities were well-noted by nearly every civilization and gained reverence and even worship through the 4th century BC when Chrisitian emperor Theodosius I outlawed all Paganism, decreeing that cats were beholders of sorcery and witchcraft because of their abilities. In truth, Chrisitianity, even to this day, has influenced societal superstitions and dislike or even fear of cats, especially black cats, because the earliest days of the Catholic church disagreed with any “worship-like” behavior or putting on a pedestal a creature so closely associated with woman. Hence, stories of smart woman and intuitive, instinctual creatures as the feline is was perverted in wide-spread lies that witches existed and should be extinguished, as were cats so described as having the fire of satan in their eyes, even capable of breathing death on humans. Thus, during the Crusades, cats were ordered to be kllled, each and every one. Interestingly enough, up until the 1700s it was the Christians who performed magical rituals, burning cats alive believing they would see the future and have questions answered.
The book, written by D. J. Conway, was a start to finish in an afternoon easily. I did not want to stop reading. For cat lovers or simply anyone curious about the history of cats, especially anyone wondering the whys of cats strong influence and affluence throughout history, I suggest finding this book to read.
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