While black cats are often a symbol of unluckiness in many superstitions, such as European and American traditions, not all people view them this way.
Sure, you may have heard that it is bad luck for a black cat to cross your path or to see a black cat on Friday the 13th, but just because a cat has the sleek oily coat of midnight does not mean that it is something to be feared or shunned.
In fact, many traditions value black cats as lucky symbols. Dark art practitioners and white Wiccans alike both see the value in the black cat and welcome it’s presence in the home and in working rituals. Black cats continue to grip the minds of many. They fill the minds with curiosity and are often the result of people who are not in fact, actual witchcraft practitioners. In the end, they are usually just cats. Cats have their own powers and that does not always coincide with the color of their fur.
Black Cats in History
There are many accounts of black cats in history, probably the most famous being the representation of the Egyptian goddess Bastet (also known as Bast). He was revered as a goddess of protection and also corresponded as the goddess of cats. Her appearance was often said to be as a sleek black cat with large eyes that were sometimes gold, green, or blue.
European history is littered with both good and bad tales of black cats. English and Irish lore says that the black cat is lucky, especially for women looking for a husband. Having a black cat in the home invited wealth and status into the household and it was common to see them.
As witch lore became more prevalent and spread to the Americas, black cats were then often seen as familiars for witches and shunned. Black cats were killed and crossing their path was said to be unlucky. They were seen as spies for witches and the act of killing them cut the vision connection with the animal. They also were seen as a way to allow Satan into the home and could lure young girls into being witches.
In Africa, there has been much said about the black cat. In ritual they were used as luck charms and often their paw was cut off and the blood used in spells. Having a black cat around the home was also considered protective to women and children and thus, in some parts of the country, hurting the animal would be unheard of. The rise of the popularity of Satanism as propagated by Anton LaVey and “The Satanic Bible” increased the black cat popularity in America in the 1980s. It was said that black cats were sacrificed on the nights of the full moon and on Halloween. During Halloween people put their black cats inside due to the increased danger to them.
Black Cats and Magic
Most practitioners of magic will agree that there is no sense in being afraid of a black cat. European witches, Wiccans, and most American witches have a slight reverence for the dark-colored animals. In European spell work, the black cat was seen as a messenger and often used to guide spells to the correct person. This may be why it was long thought that the cats were familiars of witches.
Black cats, well, any cat, is said to keep faeries away from the home. Faeries can be fun, but also destructive. The luckiness of the black cat, combined with their nature, has a positive effect on the home. The black cat is said to also specifically scare them away from your home.
Black Cats and Hoodoo
Hoodoo and other African magical rites have long used the parts of black cats in their rituals. One of the most famous ‘black cat rituals’ is the Black Cat Bone Spell. "Cook the body of a black cat in boiling water with white seeds and wood from the willow until the meat is loosened from the bones.
Strain the bones in a linen cloth and, in front of the mirror, place the bones, one by one in your mouth, until you find that you have the magic to make you become invisible. Keep the bone with the magic property and, if you want to go somewhere without being seen, place the bone in your mouth."
Other black cat spells will often consist of the hair or the whiskers of the cat. Their luck can transfer from the fur and be placed in a spell for added benefits. Another popular spell is to focus on the black cat of your choice and over time will work up a magical bond so that one can see through the eyes of the cat. This is similar to the European superstition and it is mentionable that cultures, even before they have record of being intermingled had similar beliefs about black cats.