Spellbound

that girl put a spell on me

Cat magick, folklore, and spell ideas

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Bast cartouche
Cat magick is the practice of magick which is centered on one's cat or cats. The cats act as a focus for spells and charms, and cat owners find that their cats often participate in the spell-casting process.

This form of magick is believed to have originated in ancient Egypt as part of the worship of the cat-headed Goddess Bast, continuing into modern times by those who wish to work magick with their cats.


A brief history of the sacred cat

Early cat-worship

eye of horus It was in Egypt, clearly the most intelligent civilization of antiquity, that the cat first became sacred. The wildcat of Egypt, Felis libyca, first lived in the swamps and marshes along the Nile. As time progressed, the people began to grow grains and other foodstuff. Once the humans began keeping grains for longer periods of time, rodents and other vermin found they could get a free meal. The wild cat with its ferocity and rapacity could keep the rodent population under control, though.

Domestication of the cat seems to have occurred about 3000 BCE, very recently compared to the dog which has been working for humans for about 30,000 years. This desert-living cat is now thought to be the ancestor of all domestic cats. Wild cats crept into the villages to hunt down the vermin, and grateful Egyptians began leaving out scraps of food to encourage the cats to stay. A few cats finding their way into the Egyptian homes and allowing themselves to be petted and hand fed.

Cats were considered to be the holy animal of Bast the cat-headed Goddess. In later years the utchat ('eye of Horus') was associated with cats in both tomb carvings and paintings. In fact, this led to cat-like features being the ideal of beauty in that part of the world. Women outlined their eyes with a black pigment called 'kohl' to appear more cat-like.

Hundreds of cats lived on the temple grounds of Bubastis ('House of Bast'). A massive necropolis consisting of mummified cats was even discovered on the temple grounds. Not only were cats considered members of the family. Egyptian families had their cats mummified and entombed at the temple with due mourning. The accidental death of a cat was grounds for execution of the culprit.

Cat worship spreads across the land

The cat was brought to Mediterranean countries and beyond by Phoenician traders who sought their fortune selling rare black cats. These cats eventually interbred with local forest cats to produce many of the cat colour variations seen today.

Traveling Egyptians developed a habit of returning with any cats encountered during their travels, which became either their own pets, or sometimes sold as pets for others. There was a high demand and brisk trade in domesticated cats.

The Dark Age of cat-kind

Things continued in this manner until the Middle Ages.

At that time, the Christian church decided that cats were inherently evil, declaring them to be evil spirits termed 'familiars' associated with witches. Any elderly woman living alone with her cat was under suspicion of being a witch. If the suspected witch could not pass the trials inflicted on her, she was sentenced to death along with her cat.

The deaths of so many cats allowed the rat population of Europe to increase at an alarming rate. Many plagues spread through the known world as a result.

The Modern Age

Eventually the world settled back into normalcy with the cat at the apex of creation. All was at peace again.

Inside every person owned by a cat is someone who still thinks cats are sacred.

Are black cats lucky or unlucky?

It depends where you live in the world.

In Britain and Japan, having a black cat cross your path is considered good luck, whereas if you live in the USA or several European countries, it is considered bad luck.

Because of this association with bad luck and the idea of animal sacrifice, many animal shelters in the USA will not allow adoption of black cats around Halloween.

Cat Gods around the world

Lessons from cats

A cat protection charm

As you probably know, it is unwise to let your cat roam free outside. Use this simple protection charm to ensure than your cat will be returned to you if it should get out accidentally.

Supplies

Start off by having the tag engraved with your cat's name and address.

Attach the tag to the collar, and charge the pendant with your energy of intent to protect the cat before attaching the pendant to the collar.

Finally, cut a small strip of parchment. Write the charm on the parchment ('guard well the wearer of this collar' or similar). Cut a small hole in the collar lining. Fold the parchment to fit, insert the folded strip, then sew the hole closed.

Fasten the collar on your cat, explaining that is for their own protection.

For those cats skilled at divination

If your cat seems interested in your spells and rituals, why not include him or her? Cats may enjoy these items:

Tarot for Cats Tarot for Cats by Regen Dennis and Kipling West (Macmillan General Reference, 1996): This is a cute set of Major Arcana only deck with book in a slipcase. It is geared toward spiritually-inquisitive cats and their humans.

The cards are a nice cardstock, not thin or cheap feeling. The cardbacks are reversible. The main figure on each card is a cat in bright colours with clean linework, loosely based on Rider-Waite. I like the art a lot.

The companion book is hardcover. The book has a brief history of Tarot at the beginning. Most of the book is card interpretations including a full-colour illustration of each card. There are several suggested cat-themed spreads at the back of the book.

Halloween Tarot The Halloween Tarot Deck by Kipling West (U.S. Games Systems, 1997): This is one of my favourite decks.

This is a full 78-card deck. The cardstock is a bit thin, but heavy enough. The cardbacks are reversible. The artwork with its black cat as The Fool on his journey really speaks to me. There is a mini version in a tin if you need a travel-size version.

There is also a companion book that goes with The Halloween Tarot deck. Even though most of the are loosely based on a standard Rider-Waite deck, having the book is helpful because some of the images simply are different. New Tarot readers might need some guidelines for interpretations. The book covers those guidelines.

These books can be difficult to find since many are out of print. Some great places to buy used books online include:


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