Physical Address

304 North Cardinal St.
Dorchester Center, MA 02124

Cats and Mythology: The Revered and Reverent Roles of Felines in Ancient Stories

Cats have been a part of human civilization for thousands of years, and their presence has been documented in various forms of art, literature, and mythology. These mysterious and graceful creatures have captured the hearts and minds of people all over the world, and their significance in ancient mythology is a testament to their enduring appeal. In this article, we will explore the revered and reverent roles of cats in ancient stories and how they have shaped our perception of these enigmatic creatures.

The Divine Feline: Cats in Ancient Egyptian Mythology

The ancient Egyptians were known for their worship of animals, and cats held a special place in their mythology. The goddess Bastet, depicted as a woman with the head of a cat, was one of the most revered deities in ancient Egypt. She was the protector of the home, fertility, and childbirth, and was often depicted with a litter of kittens at her feet. Cats were also associated with the goddess Sekhmet, who was known as the goddess of war and healing. She was often depicted with the head of a lioness, but her gentle and nurturing side was represented by her connection to cats.

The ancient Egyptians believed that cats were sacred creatures and were considered to be the embodiment of the goddess Bastet. They were often mummified and buried with their owners, and killing a cat was considered a crime punishable by death. This reverence for cats is evident in the numerous statues and paintings of cats found in ancient Egyptian tombs and temples.

The Trickster and the Protector: Cats in Norse Mythology

In Norse mythology, cats were associated with the goddess Freyja, who was known as the goddess of love, fertility, and war. She was often depicted with a chariot pulled by two cats, and it was believed that she could transform into a cat herself. Cats were also associated with the god Thor, who was known for his strength and bravery. In one myth, Thor is said to have disguised himself as a cat to retrieve his stolen hammer from the giant Thrym.

Cats were also seen as protectors in Norse mythology, with the goddess Freyja’s cats guarding the gates of the underworld. It was believed that if a cat was seen washing its face, it was a sign of good luck and protection. However, if a cat was seen running away, it was seen as a bad omen.

The Shape-Shifting Cat: Cats in Celtic Mythology

In Celtic mythology, cats were seen as shape-shifters and were often associated with magic and the supernatural. The most famous cat in Celtic mythology is the Cat Sith, a large black cat with a white spot on its chest. It was believed that the Cat Sith could steal the souls of the dead, and people would leave out offerings of milk and food to appease it. In some stories, the Cat Sith was also seen as a protector of the home and would bring good luck to those who treated it kindly.

Cats were also associated with the goddess Brigid, who was known as the goddess of poetry, healing, and smithcraft. She was often depicted with a cat by her side, and it was believed that she could transform into a cat to travel between the mortal and spiritual worlds.

The Cat and the Moon: Cats in Japanese Mythology

In Japanese mythology, cats were seen as the guardians of the home and were believed to have the power to ward off evil spirits. The most famous cat in Japanese mythology is the bakeneko, a shape-shifting cat with supernatural powers. It was believed that these cats could transform into humans, and some stories even claim that they could control the dead.

Cats were also associated with the moon in Japanese mythology, with the goddess Tsukuyomi being depicted as a cat. It was believed that cats had a strong connection to the moon and could communicate with the spirits of the dead during a full moon.

Question: Why were cats so revered in ancient mythology?

Answer: Cats were seen as mysterious and powerful creatures in ancient times, and their association with various deities and their perceived supernatural abilities made them objects of reverence and worship. Additionally, their role as protectors of the home and their close relationship with humans also contributed to their revered status in ancient mythology.

In Conclusion

Cats have played a significant role in ancient mythology, and their presence in these stories has shaped our perception of them as divine and mystical creatures. From the revered goddess Bastet in ancient Egypt to the shape-shifting bakeneko in Japanese mythology, cats have been portrayed in various roles, from protectors to tricksters. Their enduring appeal and enigmatic nature continue to fascinate and inspire us, making them an integral part of our cultural and mythological heritage.

So the next time you see a cat lounging in the sun or playing with a ball of yarn, remember the revered and reverent roles they have played in ancient stories and the impact they have had on our perception of these beloved creatures.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *