Cats and Witchcraft
Cats were (and still are) seen as the most common familiar to witches, which older women practicing medicinal and healing crafts were often believed to be. This connection dates back to Hecate, the ancient Greek goddess of witchcraft, who was associated with cats. The idea that black cats were unlucky was prevalent in Ireland and Scotland; in the latter, it was thought that a black cat was a shape-shifting witch, hence the association of black cats with Halloween. On the Isle of Man, cats had an even worse rap – all of them were considered to be dangerously magical and bring ill-fortune. The nature of cats, with their eerie glowing eyes that can see in the dark, and their extraordinary litheness, grace, and agility, is possibly what led to their reputation as creatures slightly beyond our ken. In Celtic folklore and legend, cats – in particular, black cats – usually appear in magical situations, emphasising their association with the Otherworld.