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Anthesteria, the Hellenic "Samhain"
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Satanic Panic and Black Cats
Article ID: 2547
Age Group: Adult
Days Up: 5,619
Times Read: 66,447
Posted: October 18th. 1999
Times Viewed: 66,447
Today as I was searching through the news for pieces on Samhain, Witches and the usual seasonal blitz, I came across some of the articles listed below and realized that it is once again "black cat ban" month.
Every October similar articles are published concerning the abuse of black cats (and other animals) at Halloween, but thankfully every year more and more of the good animal protectionists are actually getting it right. Unfortunately, some 'myths' about cats and their association with Witches and Witchcraft still persist.
Cats were -and still are- regarded as magickal creatures throughout the ages. The Egyptians revered the cat as an aspect of the goddess, Bast, and they mummified cats with all the ritual, pomp and circumstance that befitted such regal animals. Cats are depicted as drawing the heavenly chariots of various gods and goddesses in other cultural myths as well.
Possibly because of their decidedly nocturnal habits, felines have become associated with the night, stealth and mystery. Who knows where the supposedly domesticated cat wanders in the night, what he/she is up to and why they seem to look so satisfied when they stroll back into the house in the morning? Quite frankly, they have steadfastly refused to answer any questions posed to them on the subject. This code of silence has caused the cat some historical hard knocks.
During the Inquisitions or "Burning Times' of the witchcraft trials and persecutions, cats were often tortured and killed along with the accused "witches." It was thought that witches could change into (shape-shift) cats or that cats could be possessed by evil spirits. The howl of a cat on the prowl has undoubtedly frightened more than one nocturnal traveler on a darkened footpath and the fact that cats seem to delight in sneaking up on folks hasn't helped their public relations image one bit either.
The most prevalent fallacy connecting Witches, cats and Halloween is, of course, the 'animal sacrifice' myth-namely that it is the Witches that use cats for sacrifices or other abusive rituals. The truth lies in the opposite direction.
It was the superstitious clerics and witch-hunters of the past-and present-that would toss a cat into the same fire as the Witch. It was the very real working and affectionate bond between cat and Witch that drew the suspicions of those who sought 'devils' everywhere and so could find them anywhere. Sad to say, that superstitious and paranoid mindset has survived in some religious faiths right up to the dawn of the twenty-first century.
Are there people out there who really do abuse cats and other animals? Yes, there are, but they are not Witches or Wiccans. The 'mysterious cults' that are mentioned (but are never really identified) in news articles about Halloween cat-related horrors are actually following in the footsteps of Christian clerics rather than pagan practitioners if they are using or abusing the innocent cat in some sort of bizarre sacrificial ritual setting. Cat burnings were a regular past time in France until the pre-modern times. (See: Workers Revolt: The Great Cat Massacre Of The Rue Saint-Severin)
The larger professionally run animal shelters know that indeed it is not the Wiccans/Witches who are doing the abusing. Thanks to all of the concerned pagans who have written the shelters, the newspapers and town officials during 'scaredy cat' seasons past, we have gotten that point across rather well.
It is instead the "thrill seeker," the wanna-be 'satanist'- ala-Hollywood -movie- scripts or the emotionally disturbed individual who perpetuates such crimes against animaldom. We join with the animal protection agents in the hope that the people who abuse cats and other animals will be caught and then prosecuted for their heinous and cruel acts.
So even if a few misinformed (or misquoted) individuals still mention Witches and the pagan celebrations that take place in October in the list of reasons behind the black cat adoption ban, as animal lovers, we should support this action to protect the animals, rather than throw a hissy fit because such crimes are associated with "Halloween." We will however continue to write those letters and set the record straight on the Witch-Cat relationship.
Witches For The Protection of Animals:
Every year, Witches are looking for public service projects to become involved in. What better way to show these agencies and the general public that Witches do not perform animal sacrifices than to work to save these animals?
The shelters incur extra costs to keep animals that normally would be released during the month of October. Why not help them out?
If you have a local group or coven, consider a fundraising event for your local animal shelter. Collect pet supplies and donate them at the beginning/end of October. If you are "out of the broom closet", take a photo of the donation center staff with your group and send it with a press release to your local paper.
National Pagan organizations may want to consider a run of special T-shirts with the "Cats of Witchcraft" printed on the front and an appropriate "Donate To Your Local Animal Shelter" on the back. (A portion of sales could go to a local shelter as well.) We have wonderful "no-kill" shelters in this area-and maybe you do, too!- that certainly could use the extra help.
Witches love their cat companions. By donating to animal shelters, we can help insure that felines and other animals will have the chance to find a good home where they will be loved and well cared for.
And what better way to celebrate Samhain than to help give a homeless animal the gift of a "happy new year?"
Other Links/ References
| The Articles - 1999|
Black Cats Go Into Hiding'-MSNBC (10/15/99)
MILWAUKEE, Oct. 15 - They're cute and cuddly, but if you want to adopt a black cat, this isn't the time of year to do it. In fact, at the Wisconsin Humane Society, you can't until after Halloween because the society's worried that black cats could become targets of torture.
The Wisconsin Humane Society believes these cats are vulnerable to torture this time of year, given all the tales about black cats being bad luck, misfortune and evil.
Halloween Brings Tricks, Threats To Black Cats'-by Marian Uhlman, Philadelphia Inquirer (10/15/99)
As Halloween approaches each year, George Bengle braces for a phone call asking him to investigate a torture of a black cat.
He has turned up grisly remains - such as cats with severed heads or missing limbs - several times in 11 years as an investigator with the Women's Humane Society in Bensalem. The problem "is out there," he says, especially during this time of year.
So strong is the fear that harm might befall black cats in the weeks leading up to Halloween that many animal shelters across the country prohibit their adoption until November. They see the black-cat moratorium as preventive care.
Black cats are particularly vulnerable to cruelty because of age-old myths connecting them to misfortune and evil, according to animal experts. Those myths are revisited each year when the black cat becomes featured as a Halloween symbol. As such, they become the target of youthful pranksters and satanic worshipers, Bengle said.
"I am very, very careful because I know people want animals for witchery things," said Phyllis Ruley, who runs the adoption program at the Frazer Animal Hospital in Chester County. "I am very leery, and I am skeptical of everyone."-(http://www.phillynews.com/inquirer/99/Oct/15/sj/ECAT15.htm)
Fraidy Cat"-by Kris Jensen, Northscape Herald (10/17/99)
Let's hope Poe's fiction really was fiction. Because around this time of year, bad things happen to good cats. Especially if they're black. Long considered by the superstitious to be witches in disguise, black cats bear the brunt of Halloween madness at the hands of pranksters.
The myths, the mystery and the moment can propel people to do things around Halloween that wouldn't occur to them otherwise, and that's when your cats are in danger. Concerns with cults or Satanic worship in these parts are lower than in some other areas of the country, police said, but that doesn't mean your black kitty is safe in the yard.
Vickie Wang, veterinarian at All Pets Hospital, is grateful she hasn't ever had to treat any incidences of Halloween-related animal abuse.
"Personally, I've been very fortunate not to come across animals that have suffered at the hands of pranksters or some dark mysterious cult syndrome," she said. To keep it that way, she strongly recommends cat owners keep their furry friends indoors, especially as Halloween approaches.
As Halloween nears, the Humane Society of Grand Forks won't adopt out any cat that is black, white or even a combination, said shelter supervisor Evie Horton. "Every year about a week or so before Halloween, we stop adopting out any cat that is all black, all white or black and white," Horton said. "It doesn't happen right here, but this is the time of year when Satan worshippers use these animals for sacrifices. "-(http://www.northscape.com/news/docs00/1017/27CD061.htm)
Other Articles From 1997
"There have been reports (elsewhere) of cats being used for occult practices and in occult ceremonies, and in pranks," said Robert E. Lee, director of the John Ancrum SPCA. It's "primarily just as a precaution, for our peace of mind, knowing there are some individuals out there whose values and sense of humor might not be in accord with our purpose in adopting pets." Lee said he's had no local reports of Halloween-related cat abuse, but has heard anecdotal reports of such things happening in other cities. -(reported by Eric Frazier Of The Post and Courier.)
DAVID PARRISH (of The Orange County Register) reports: "As Halloween approaches, most Orange County animal shelters will ban adoptions of black cats out of fear they could be harmed in occult rituals."
"The black cat adoption blackout period will vary at the animal shelters, ranging from a few days to more than a week before and after Halloween. Such bans have been in place for several years at most shelters in Southern California, said Bill Harford, president of the California Animal Control Directors."
"The link between blacks cats and Halloween can be traced to the Middle Ages, when people believed they were demon companions to witches, said Gayle K. Brunelle, a professor of history at California State University, Fullerton. Consequently, she said, people who truly believe in witchcraft would not harm a black cat. ``Most of the problems with black cats would not be with real witches, but with wanna-be witches who don't have a clue what they are doing,'' she said."
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