The first, crisp hint of fall is in the air. Maybe it's the cool nights, or the subtle autumnal turning of the leaves. Maybe it's the scent of woodsmoke, or the feeling in the air that means that fall is not too far away. And with Autumn comes a time filled with legend, superstition, and myth - Halloween.
One of these superstitions is incredibly prevalent, and often misunderstood - the icon of the black cat. It is often hard to adopt out black cats and kittens due to superstitions held by people. But did you know that not all superstitions about black cats are negative?
That's right. Many have heard the saying that if a black cat crosses your path, bad luck will befall you, or illness, or perhaps even death. The same has been said about white cats in other cultures, particularly Asian cultures, where the white cat is considered to hold the same properties in legend and lore.
The superstition surrounding the ill luck of black cats is relatively recent - arising in western Europe during the middle ages. With stories and rumors of "witches" abounding the countryside, epidemics like the plague, and general financial worries, the black cat was made a scapegoat. Many locales tried to eradicate cats completely from their area, for fear that they were witches in disguise, harbingers of ill luck, or worse, carriers of the Black Plague.
Some areas of the world and some cultures still cling true to these superstitions, and unrightly so. Did you know that some cultures hold the black cat as an omen of good luck?
For example, there is a Celtic superstition that says a strange black cat showing up on your doorstep will bring prosperity and wealth, so long as it is cared for.
In Latvia, a small eastern European country bordering on the Baltic sea, black cats were said to be the spirit of Rungis, a god of harvests. Upon finding one in their barns or silos, joy was to be beheld, for it meant a well and prosperous harvest for the year.
Across the world, fishermen's wives would keep a black cat in the home to ensure no harm would come to their husbands while at sea.
Take a moment to visit Ball.
The theater world has two specific traditions concerning black cats. If a black cat were in the audience on the opening night of a performance, things would go smoothly. Many theaters had black cats in their employ, ensuring them good luck all around, so long as the cat was properly cared for by the cast and crew of that theater.
Southern France has the right idea, I think. They call their cats "matagots" or "Magician cats". They bring good luck to their owners, but only those owners who feed them well, treat them kindly, and give them the respect and love they would accord to a family member.
Have a look at Phoebe!
In the midlands of England, a black cat is thought to be a good omen for marriage. If a black cat is in the house where a young girl resides, she will find many a young many interested. A black cat gotten at the start of a marriage ensures a prosperous and happy one. If a loose white hair is found upon a black cat, groom it out, and keep it, for it is a sign you will find true love.
But perhaps there is an inkling (pun intended) of truth to the legend that black cats bring good luck. King Charles I of England protected his black feline fiercely, believing his companion brought him luck and protection. The day after the cat died of natural causes, Charles I was arrested by Oliver Cromwell, and shortly thereafter King Charles was taken to the scaffold and beheaded.