Monthly Columns

The Halloweenification of Black Cats

As the proud kitty mama of my own feline void, we are going to discuss the associations that black cats have with witches and more especially, Samhain. Black cats are most often associated with Halloween, Samhain or witchcraft. In most Western cultures, black cats have typically been looked upon as agents of misfortune. In a lot of other cultures, black cats are seen as lucky. Bringers of prosperity and happiness.


So just how did cats become so intertwined with witches? A number of Pagan deities hold the cat in high esteem. Bastet tops the list with being pictured as a being with a woman’s body and a black cat’s head in a lot of artwork. She is a protector of women, children and the home with a sideline in perfumes, music and pleasure. Cat’s in ancient Egypt were revered for being the first line of defense against rats, mice and even snakes, including the venomous cobra. Cats were often dressed with jewelry and allowed to eat off the same plates as their human companions. When a household’s cat died, the members of that household shaved off their eyebrows in mourning and if someone killed a cat even by accident, they themselves were put to death. The Romans and Greeks often equated Bast with Diana and Artemis.



Freya was another associated with cats. It was said her chariot was drawn by grey or blue cats. They were said to be a gift from Thor. She was the Norse goddess of love, beauty, fertility, war, gold and magic. Newly married Norse women were gifted kittens in honour of Freya in hopes she would bless the marriage with happiness, fertility and prosperity. If fine weather coincided with a wedding. The bride was said to have fed the cat well. It was also bad luck to kill a cat. Cats were also thought to bring luck to sailors and were welcome aboard Norse ships. Along with luck, the ship’s cat kept rats and mice at bay. Cats were also valued members of the household, guarding the food stores against vermin

In the Medieval period, cats had a fall from grace. Though there were cats still kept as pets and were well loved. There were cats living in the wild and their nocturnal habits created a view that they were creatures that operated out of the control of humans. Medieval people believed that animals were created by the Christian god to be obedient to humans. The independent nature of cats troubled them. A cat may be domesticated but they are not given to fawning obedience like dogs. This must mean that of course they were agents of evil.

It was in the 12th century where the cat was associated with the devil…who was often said to take the form of a black cat. Witches were said to gather in the night and in isolated areas to perform Satanic rituals where Satan would come to you guessed it, as a black cat. Catholic churchmen accused Heretical religious groups like the Cathars and Knights Templar of even worshiping cats and praying to them.

Familiars were said to take the forms of cats especially black ones and witches were thought to be able to shape shift into cats. Even the cats valuable service of keeping mice out of the grain by catching them was compared to how the Devil caught souls. We all know where this led.

The church fathers did such a good smear campaign against cats (especially black ones) that even now a lot of people regard cats with outright suspicion if not hostility. Black cats are the last to be adopted at shelters and first to be put down. Adoptions of black cats cease in a lot of places from late September to mid November because cruel and superstitious idiots have stupid ideas and would abuse and kill them. I ask my brothers and sisters in craft and faith that if have you room in your hearts and homes please adopt any cats you can.


Here are some common beliefs about black cats:

    • In the United States a black cat crossing your path is considered unlucky.
    • In England and Wales, a black cat crossing you path brings good fortune.
    • In Scotland a black cat showing up on your porch or at your door is a sign of coming prosperity.
    • In Japan, if someone is gifted with a black cat, they will be lucky in love.
    • In various European countries, a black cat on board a ship will assure a safe journey.
    • In various parts of Asia and the UK you will have good fortune if you own a black cat.
    • In France if you see a black cat walking towards you, you will get a wish granted.
    • In France and Germany if a black cat walks away from you then you will have ill luck.



I say the only misfortune associated with black cats is never getting the opportunity to share your life with one. Happy Samhain!!


*Photos: 1.Georgy Rudakov on Unsplash, 2 & 3. Wikipedia, 4. & 5. Public Domain.



About the Author:


I’ve been a practicing pagan and witch for over 20 years. I was raised Catholic (in such that my parents sent me to Catholic school as they believed it would give me a better parents were agnostic at best) and got over it quickly enough. It never touched me, but the school library had really good books on mythology and divination, so there was that. I began my path at the age of 14 after seeing The Occult Explosion on late night TV and then raiding the occult section at B Daltons with a pocketful of babysitting money and allowance.

Paganism made sense to me. I started out Wiccan as that was what was available on the shelves and grew from there. At 16 I was handed a copy of the Principia Discordia and well…I added chaos magic to the mix. I was a solitary who occasionally attended discussion groups and rituals when living in Chicago. I then moved to Ohio (Gods know why). Through a series of interesting coincidences I ended up with Three Cranes Grove and made wonderful friends and learned a lot. Though I have wandered off again, I still consider myself a Crane..albeit an out dwelling one.

My path can be best described as Discordian-Eclectic Kitchen Witch. Heh. You have been warned…