This is, I’m sure, no surprise to any cat owner. Lol. But I’ve been realizing the last few months, exactly how magical these little furry murderers can be. Lately, I’ve become fascinated by folktales and fairy tales where cats are, in some way, the heroes. This all started as my ancestor practices with my paternal, Lithuanian line deepened. Gabija, the Lithuanian Goddess of the hearth and fire, can take the form of a cat and many of my ancestors really seemed to like them. I started getting pushed to get a cat of my own, so my husband and I adopted a little old lady cat from a local shelter. That was eye opening.
I’ve noticed that she wards the house. Whenever there are jagged, miasmic, or negative energies about, she will be our first warning. Even before we pick up on anything, Elena (our cat) is alert and through her behavior gives us warning. When we are divining, she will come from wherever she’s at in the house, sit and watch without interfering with the mat, and when we’re done, she’ll wander off again. She also seems to help at managing the energy of the house. As I’ve been reading about the role of cats in folklore, Lithuanian and otherwise, my respect for the little creatures has skyrocketed. This is an animal I’ve always liked, but never really considered in terms of a working ally. So, I’m kind of shocked to find myself, as a vitki and spirit worker, thinking “cats are cool.” Lol. I’ve even seen friends’ felines engaging in behavior that to my eyes and senses looks an awful lot like prayer.
Cats are of course, associated with magic in much of the folklore I’ve been reading. They are clever and dangerous; they are also often protective. In ancient Egypt, they were sacred. In Japan, they are believed to bring luck and wealth into a dwelling. I think they do. Also, I firmly believe they bring out the best in people. I said recently, only half joking, that all diplomatic negotiations should take place in a room full of cats! When we respond to them, they make us better humans.
Finally, there are two movies about cats that I’d highly recommend. The first is a Turkish film called “Kedi” that traces five stray cats throughout their meanderings around Istanbul. It also shows the sweet and caring way random people respond to them. The second is “Cat Nation,” a documentary about the popularity of cats in Japan. It’s a beautiful example of animism in action at times.
I also recommend “The Cats of San Martino,” a short story by Ellen Steiber in the anthology “Black Heart, Ivory Bones.” It’s a re-imagining of an Italian folk-tale about the King of the Cats. I love this tale. There’s also the book “The Cat Who Walked a Thousand Miles” by Kij Johnson, a beautiful book that makes me wonder about the stories cats tell about themselves.
I’m still pondering this. In the meantime, those of you who have cats, tell me your magical tales. ^__^. And if you have any books or stories to recommend, feel free to post here.
I think it’s important to find those places in our regular landscape that summon to mind the presence and potency of our Gods. That’s part of re-sacralizing the world too: seeking out places that speak to our hearts of the Holy Powers we love to dearly. I’m not as good at doing this as I should be, but when I was in Eugene, I had a wonderful opportunity to pour out offerings in the most unlikely of places: a busy university campus during the national track championships!
At the University of Oregon there is a tree, a douglas fir grown from a seed that went to the moon. A number of seeds were taken on the Apollo 14 mission and got to orbit the moon. Apparently many of them were planted and forgotten, but not this one. There is a plaque commemorating the flight of the tree’s seed and a bench and then the gorgeous, soaring branches of the tree itself. Because of it’s association with the moon by virtue of its history, I thought this a potent place to make special offerings to our moon God Mani.
My friends took me by the day after I arrived and I was able to pour out copious offerings, both for myself and for those of Friends of Mani who had requested it. Unexpectedly, given its location, I found it a surprisingly powerful experience. Mani was, against all expectations, present and it was a joy to hail Him.