Your Magickal Cat: Feline Magick, Lore, and Worship

Your Magickal Cat: Feline Magick, Lore, and Worship

by Gerina Dunwich

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Overview

The purr-fect reference on the mystery and mysticism of cats through the ages—from demons to deities, harbingers of bad luck to charmed companions.  
 
Enter into the mystical world of cats through this unique and comprehensive resource. In Your Magickal Cat, you’ll learn how cats and paganism have been linked together throughout history, and how the cat has acquired the roles of witch’s familiar, deity, omen, healer, shamanic totem, and dream symbol. Also covered are: astrology for cats and their humans, feline divination, hands-on spells, New Age healing techniques, a list of enchanting names for your familiar, dozens of cat-oriented proverbs, sources and resources, and much more. Cat lovers are sure to be charmed by the legends, lore, poetry, and illustrations within this loving, extensively researched book.
 
“The research on the historical end was good . . . Get it if you need a quick reference to feline lore.”—Pagan Book Reviews

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780806539683
Publisher: Kensington
Publication date: 11/27/2018
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 190
File size: 3 MB

About the Author

Gerina Dunwich is the author of over two-dozen books on witchcraft and the occult. Her articles, poetry and interviews have appeared in numerous publications, including Playgirl, American Woman, Moving Words, and in Llewellyn's calendars and datebooks. She lives in Upstate New York.

Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER 1

The Feline Divine

She wears the same voluptuous slow smile She wore when she was worshipped on the Nile.

— Walter Adolphe Roberts

Nowhere in the world, at any time during the history of the human race, were cats more exalted and highly respected than in ancient Egypt. For it was there in that mysterious land of pyramids and pharaohs that great temples were built in honor of the feline; cat-shaped magickal charms were worn for protection, fertility, and other purposes; and various offerings were routinely made to stone statues of cats. Entire cities were even dedicated to the worship of the cat, which was regarded as a sacred animal and a divine symbol of the Egyptian cat-goddess Bastet (also known as Ubastet, Bast, or Pasht).

The sages of ancient Egypt declared that the magickal powers and divinity of the cat served to keep eternal darkness from swallowing the world and depriving mankind of the benefits of the sun. The cat also protected the granaries and the hearth. They held more power and importance than any other animal.

Cats were so sacred to the Egyptians of old that the pharaohs forbade their export and made it illegal for any person to bring harm to a cat or kitten. To kill a cat "with malice aforethought" was punishable by death. However, if an individual accidentally killed a cat, he was subject to pay whatever fine was imposed by the priests.

According to Herodotus (an early Greek traveler in Egypt who took great interest in the Egyptian reverence for the feline), the killing of a cat was considered by the people of Egypt a crime of greater magnitude than the murder of a human being. The life of a cat was so precious that if a fire threatened a house, the first priority of the firefighters was to save the lives of the cats trapped inside. Afterwards, the rescue of the human occupants and their personal possessions would be carried out.

In the year 450 B.C., Herodotus recorded in his journal a horrific event he witnessed in the streets of Alexandria. A Roman soldier had literally been torn limb from limb by an infuriated mob of Egyptians because he had caused the death of a cherished household cat. Such happenings were said to have been common throughout Egypt. In those days, a wise man was one who took care to harm not even a single whisker of a cat!

When an Egyptian family's cat used up all of its nine lives, all members of the bereaved family would enter full mourning, traditionally shaving off their eyebrows. This was done to express their sorrow and also to show their respect for the deceased animal.

With full ceremony, the lifeless body of the cat was embalmed with various drugs, aromatic oils, and spices, then wrapped either in plain linen (if the family was poor) or in expensive multicolored strips of linen, pleated into elaborate patterns (if the family was wealthy). Next, a papier-mâché or sculptured wooden mask was placed over the cat's head. This was also carefully covered with linen and painted or decorated with the finest of gold gilt. The mummified body was then enclosed in a jewel-covered mummy case along with food, bowls of milk, and even mummified mice and shrews to ensure the cat's happiness and well-being in the afterworld. For kittens, small coffins made of bronze were often used.

Finally, an elaborate funeral complete with solemn rites would take place and the mummified cat would be laid out to rest either in the famous Necropolis of Bubastis, in a family vault, or in a cat cemetery located in any town where the rites of Bastet were duly observed.

The exact number of mummified cats buried in the many feline cemeteries throughout Egypt is unknown; however, it is said to be literally in the millions. Many cat mummies have been found wearing jewels befitting a queen, while others have been found within the pyramids, alongside their mummified masters.

In addition to its sacredness and its connection to the worship of Bastet, the cat was regarded by the ancient Egyptians as an extremely magickal animal. They believed that it held the greatest of occult powers and psychic abilities. Cats could not only see in the dark, they could also see into the future and warn humans of impending disasters and danger ... if they chose to do so. Cats offered the human race magickal protection, and every Egyptian household kept them for good luck and to keep all evil forces at bay. All cats were sacred to the goddess, and the cats belonging to the peasantry were no less respected, revered, and valued than those kept by the great pharaohs.

Throughout Egypt, the most unfortunate of omens was to discover the body of a dead cat. This was believed to be an indication of a grave illness, a death in the family, or some other tragedy or catastrophic event about to occur. Such an omen could also serve as a warning that the goddess Bastet was displeased or had been angered in some way by the foolish actions of mortals.

When cats were first introduced into Asia, they immediately were elevated to objects of worship. Chinese and Japanese cat-worshippers alike honored the cat by making special sacrifices to it, and in India, laws protecting cats were strictly enforced. The divinity of the cat was evident in more than one pagan culture; however, the magnitude and duration of the ancient cult of the cat remained nowhere greater than in Egypt. (Incidentally, the Hebrews — who were the mortal enemies of the cat-worshipping Egyptians — regarded the cat as an object of contempt since it was so strongly connected to Egyptian religion and culture. It is doubtful that it is mere coincidence that not one single reference to the cat is made in the Bible.)

THE CAT WITH PAINTED EYES

Witch-cat of the pyramids,
The shadows of the wind-worn Sphinx Enshroud her like a priestly robe Of velvet lined with magick.

Painted eyes like pharaoh dreams Invoke the spell of desert stars.
Her rings of gold and royal jewels Enchant the night with secrets.

Witch-cat of the moon-drenched Nile Reflects the image of Bastet.
She purrs, she strokes her fur of pitch And dances like a goddess.

— from Priestess and Pentacle

by Gerina Dunwich

Bastet

According to Egyptian mythology, Bastet — a feline virgin-goddess known as the Cat Goddess of Joy — was the daughter of Ra (the sun god and ruler of the underworld) and the mother goddess Isis (who also ruled the sun, as well as the earth and the moon). Bastet was one of the major deities of the Egyptian pantheon. In another myth, Bastet was the firstborn daughter of the supreme creator god, Amun. She begat a lion-headed son named Mihos, whose center of worship was in the city of Bubastis.

The cat-goddess was originally worshipped in the form of a lioness (like her sister Sekhmet — a ferocious deity who represented the destructive aspects of the sun, and devoured the less-than-fortunate enemies of the sun god). By circa 1000 B.C.Bastet's guise had transformed into that of a benevolent cat. Her popularity grew to become widespread throughout Egypt, and she was often depicted in works of art as a deity possessing the body of a woman with the head of a cat (which, unsurprisingly, was the animal most sacred to her). In later Egyptian theology she took on the appearance of a cat-headed hawk, emphasizing the spirituality of the cat and symbolizing the "soaring immortal soul."

Bastet's major role was that of a deity who presided over fertility and sexuality, and she represented the benevolent aspects of the sun. She was regarded as the protectress of the North, the healer of the sick (especially children), and the patroness of motherhood. She protected the dead and decreed the success or failure of all growing things. Bastet was frequently called upon by women wishing to bear children, and by farmers in desperate need of rain. Eventually, she became a goddess linked to the sun, the moon, and the powers of love as well.

The cat goddess (whose cult lasted from circa 3200 B.C. until the end of the fourth century A.D. when the practice of paganism was officially outlawed by Theodosius I) was, for the most part, a goddess with a gentle disposition. However, like most pre-Christian goddesses, she was not without her wrath if properly provoked.

The Magick of Bastet

In contemporary witchcraft and sex-magick circles, Bastet remains one of the most popular of ancient Egyptian goddesses. She is often invoked in fertility rites and in cat-magick. Nearly all witches and pagan folk who are cat-lovers hold a special place in their hearts for Bastet.

The following spells are based on actual magickal practices of the ancient Egyptians who exalted the cat to divine status and endowed it with its ninefold life.

For protection against all opposition and evil forces, inscribe a scarab talisman with the divine image of the cat-goddess and the following words of power: "May Bastet, the great Lady of Bubastis, give protection." When the moon is full, you must anoint the talisman with three drops of frankincense oil (an oil believed since ancient times to be potent with protective magickal properties) and then wear it on a necklace, sleep with it underneath your pillow, or carry it in your pocket, purse, or special charmbag. (To increase the talisman's magickal power, touch it nine times with the tail of a live cat before applying the anointment.)

The ancient Egyptians inscribed scarabs of gold, ivory, wood, or stone with various images of, and prayers to, the goddess Bastet. Their magickal purposes included, but were not limited to: giving life and power, prosperity, truth, hunting, making rain, healing the sick or injured, promoting fertility, protecting pregnant women and children, guarding cats against snake bites, "exorcising" scorpion poison from stung cats, warding off evil spirits, and keeping temples and households safe from venomous animals.

Bastet's image, name, and sacred invocation were also engraved upon magickal wands of ivory, which were buried in tombs to keep the bodies of the dead safe from the many evils that existed in the supernatural realm and in the hereafter. It is believed that the horoscopes of the dead were engraved upon the wands as well.

To invoke the ancient power and graceful catlike presence of the goddess Bastet, inscribe her divine name nine times upon of a cat-shaped candle (preferably one that is of a color corresponding to your intent — see pages 26–27. Anoint the candle with frankincense, lotus, or any other type of fragrant oil as you meditate upon the cat-goddess. Next, you must cast a clockwise circle for protection and then light the candle in the center of your altar, along with a censer filled with frankincense and myrrh. Open your heart to Bastet, fill your mind with her image, and recite the following pagan prayer nine consecutive times:

O great lady of Bubastis:
She of divine feline form Who giveth life and power,
I ask thee now to harken To my words and to my heart.
O mistress of the oracle And carrier of the sacred eye:
She who is known as The Lady of the East,
I call to thee now With prayer and flame.
This sacred candle burneth most bright In thine honor and to invoke Thy power and presence most divine.
Within this circle sunwise cast O Goddess of Cat Enchantment Make thyself revealed before me.
Praise be to Bastet!
Praise be to Bastet!
Praise be to Bastet!
So mote it be.

Once you have invoked Bastet and experienced her presence within your circle, you should speak, and at the same time visualize, what your intent is. You may also talk directly with the goddess, using your voice or thoughts. She will hear you either way and know what is in your heart.

Continue the ritual until the candle burns itself out (which may take several hours, depending upon the size of the candle) or until you feel that the time is right to bring the ritual to a close. Give sincere thanks, in your own words, to Bastet for her presence, protection, and favors, and then bid her farewell. Uncast the circle either by actually tracing it with a sword in a counterclockwise fashion or by visualizing its boundaries dematerializing and extinguish the candle with a snuffer or your moistened fingertips pinched together. (Many witches and pagans believe that using your breath to blow out a candle's flame after performing a spell or ritual is an insult to the gods and causes bad luck.)

Bubastis

Located on an island in the Nile Delta region of Lower Egypt, Bubastis (known today as Tel Basta) was one of the six major cities of that region, and without a doubt the most important center of the Bastet cult.

In Bubastis there stood a grand temple of red granite that housed in its inner shrine a great stone statue of the cat-goddess seated upon her throne. At its feet, priests once laid offerings of fruit, honey, meat, and exotic oils, while singing maidens danced around it with rattles and censers of fragrant incense. In the shadow of the temple's great hall, untold numbers of cats — the sacred companions of Bastet — would prowl; each adorned with necklaces, earrings, and nose rings, and all regarded as sacred as the cat goddess herself.

It is believed that a cult of Bastet was additionally centered in Upper Egypt at the Karnak temple complex; however, it was in Bubastis that an annual springtime festival of Bastet was held. Each year, more than half a million worshippers of the cat goddess would make pilgrimages by boat to this city to attend her sacred event and to receive her divine blessings. With joyous parades and an atmosphere comparable in all likelihood to a Mardi Gras street celebration, the Bastet festival was a day of dancing, singing, feasting, drinking, and mirth making. The event was not complete, of course, without a few ritual frenzies and wild drunken orgies. At the Necropolis (Bubastis's famous cat cemetery), each year at festival time the burial of nearly 100,000 mummified cats gathered from all parts of Egypt would also take place as part of the ritual to honor the goddess.

It is said that of all the religious festivals celebrated by the Egyptians of ancient times, the springtime festival of Bastet was by far the gayest and most popular, and it had the greatest number of attendees.

Feline Deities From Around the World

Bastet, the cat-headed goddess of the ancient Egyptians, is by far the most well-known of all feline deities worshipped in pre-Christian times, and many regard her name as being almost synonymous with the words cat goddess. However, Bastet was not the only deity in the world (or even in ancient Egypt for that matter) who took the form of a cat, or who was associated with cats in ancient religion and myth. A number of gods and goddesses from various pantheons have been worshipped in cat form, and each has made a unique contribution to the magick, folklore, and history of pagan culture.

Another, but lesser known, cat goddess of the ancient Egyptians was Maldet. She was worshipped during the First Dynasty; however, her cult did not become as widespread as that of Bastet.

In Heracleopolis, a cat goddess called Maau (pronounced as ma-a'oo) was once worshipped. She was associated with Her-Shef, the self-created Great Father whose eyes were the sun and moon. Maau, who was also known as both Atet and Mersekhnet, was a Great Mother deity, and bore a strong resemblance to Hathor, Isis, and Neith. Like the goddess Bastet, Maau was also a slayer of Apep, the great serpent of night's darkness and adversary of the sun god.

Ra, the sun god of Heliopolis, was also represented in myth as a great cat, and in his feline form he was sometimes known as Mau. The "Great Cat who is in Heliopolis" is mentioned in the Egyptian Book of the Dead, which states that "the male cat is Ra himself, and he is called Mau by reason for the speech of the god Sa, who said concerning him: "He is like unto that which he hath made; thus his name became Mau." (It is interesting to note that mau was also the Egyptian word for "cat.")

Whenever a solar eclipse darkened the sky, terrified Egyptians were convinced that it was caused by a great battle to the death between Ra and Apep — the gods of light and darkness, respectively. If Ra (who always transformed into a giant cat during battle) was overpowered, the sun would disappear and unending night would take its place. When the eclipse finally passed, a great celebration was held throughout the land, for the return of the sun meant that the Great Cat had once again defeated the monstrous serpent.

A cat god known as Li Shou is mentioned in the Chinese Book of Rites. He was worshipped by farmers in the agricultural regions of China as a benevolent deity who protected the crops by devouring destructive rats and mice. Each year after the fields had been harvested, an orgiastic festival was held and sacrifices to the cat-god were performed as a way to offer thanks and also to ensure the success of the following year's crops.

Long ago on the northern Peruvian coast, the Mochica people worshipped a feline deity called Ai Apaec. Often depicted as an old man possessing a wrinkled face, long fangs, and catlike whiskers, he was said to have been a divine being that evolved from an ancient cat-god. In addition to being a supreme deity, Ai Apaec was the patron of farmers, fishermen, hunters, and healers, and also presided over the miracle of human reproduction.

(Continues…)


Excerpted from "Your Magickal Cat"
by .
Copyright © 2000 Gerina Dunwich.
Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Preface,
Introduction,
1. The Feline Divine,
2. Cat-Magick,
3. Cat Dreams and What They Mean,
4. Felines and Familiars,
5. The Totem Cat,
6. Cat Omens and Superstitions,
7. Legendary Tails,
8. Astrology for Cats,
9. Cat Cures,
Appendix: Resources,
Bibliography,
Index,

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