My First Initiation
Article ID: 3157
Age Group: Adult
Days Up: 6,007
Times Read: 7,829
Posted: December 17th. 2000
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My first 'special' cat literally walked into my life when was I was about four years old. A feral cat gave birth to a litter of kittens in the old log pile under the apple tree behind the barn. This apple tree was my favorite because it was the old fashioned kind with spreading branches low down on the trunk. Even a young child could reach those first limbs and then have a good climb on such a tree. That was exactly what I was doing when I first heard the strange little crying sounds coming from under the log pile. So I climbed down and, as any self-respecting curious toddler would, took a wary peek.
Within the dimly lit hollow were three very small kittens skittering around chasing leaves and tails and whatever else dared to move inside there. One black-and-white one spotted me. I have no idea what he was thinking, but he seemed to take two big blue eyes suddenly appearing at his bedroom door as a not totally unexpected occurrence. I made that pursed lips sucking sound that cat lovers are probably born knowing how to do. (Cats seem to find the noise rather pathetic coming from most people, but will grudgingly admit that it's a somewhat adorable ability in their own humans.) He came out, I picked him up and that was that. My very first cat had found me.
Looking back on it now, I think that this particular cat decided- probably somewhere during that prenatal auction that cats attend in order to choose their Witches- that he was going to volunteer to be my "training cat." There is no other explanation that I can think of for why he would let me dress him up in baby clothes, run him around in a doll carriage and tie bells on his tail.
If those things weren't enough in themselves to prove that he had taken on the job in the true and unselfish spirit of paving the way for all of the cats that were to follow him, one other fact does make the hypothesis quite credible:
I named him "Blacky-Wacky" and he let me get away with it.
What can I say? He was a saint.
Blacky-Wacky taught me one of the first tenets of magick. For the non-magickal layperson, these are: To know, to will, to dare and to be silent. Being the advanced soul that he was, B.W. went straight to the last one first.
I grew up in an old pre-1800 farmhouse. In the kitchen, we had a huge cast iron four-legged wood burning stove. In the winter, my father's black-and-tan dog, Luke, and Blacky-Wacky would crawl under the stove and then nap the long cold New England nights away. The big dog and little cat adored one another and it wasn't unusual to peek beneath the stove and see B.W. curled up right against Luke's stomach-rather like one of those measuring spoon sets with each smaller spoon cradled within the next larger one.
Somewhere along the line another kitten appeared. I don't remember how long she had been living with us prior to this incident. In fact, she never really lived with us as much as she alternated between being in the house and then not being anywhere at all. I figured that she must be Blacky-Wacky's sister. I named her Fluffy. My only excuse in reaching for the obvious name there was that she was gray and fluffy and I was four and my vocabulary was still pretty limited.
Anyway, all three of them-big dog, little black and white B.W. and short, fluffy Fluffy-were snoozing away under the stove one night when I needed my 'cat fix'.
Now cat lovers know full well what a 'cat fix' is. For the rest of you non-cat-worshipping unfortunates, a 'cat fix' is necessary when your cats are suddenly so cute and so adorable that you simply must snatch them up from whatever they are doing or wherever they may be and wildly rub your face in their fur. You have to do it. You can't control it. It's an addiction.
So there I was, feet kicking out from under the stove, trying to grab two squirmy kittens that undoubtedly would much rather continue sleeping. Finally, Blacky-Wacky- obviously resigning himself to the fact that since sleep was now so totally impossible that he would just cooperate-came out on his own. That left just Fluffy... a little closer.. I almost could reach her... .
"WHAT are you doing under there?"
Startled, I bumped my head on the underside of the stove as I shimmied out and into the middle of the kitchen floor. Looking up, I knew that there was going to be trouble. I just didn't know how much trouble at the time.
My parents and I lived in the family homestead where my dad and his family had grown up, where three generations of our family had lived, where everyone always gathered on the weekends. The good part of two of those generations were seated around the big harvest table playing cards, drinking the coffee that came from the pot that was always perking and all of the eyes of all my relations were suddenly on me.
When you are four, you generally feel pretty small anyway. I felt even smaller than usual right then.
"I'm trying to get Fluffy out from under the stove, " I said in a smaller than usual voice.
Then came the words that if I had only been a wee bit older, a wee bit wiser, and a wee bit less small, would have warned me that something was a wee bit askew. But I was only four. What did I know?
"WHO the h*** is Fluffy?"
My mother had that look on her face. The look that mothers and other parents get when their children are embarrassing them in front of people. I knew the look. I saw it a lot. I should have known better, but I didn't. And besides, by now I was also more than a wee bit confused.
"Fluffy..You know, Blacky-Wacky's sister... She's under the stove and I want her to come out, " I stammered and looked frantically around for an understanding face. Nothing there but blank stares all around the table. I tried again. Perhaps I was not clear enough the first time. You often have to be very patient with grown-ups, as you probably know. They have a lot on their minds apparently and it's hard to keep them focused on a four-year-old's conversation with a winning card hand ready to be played.
"Fluffy is the little gray fuzzy one. She's Blacky-Wacky's sister, I think, and she's under the stove and she won't come out."
'There is no fuzzy gray kitten in this house", Mother said rather curtly. "There never has been any gray kitten in this house. We have one cat and that's Blacky-Wacky and he's sitting right there."
Sure enough, there was B.W. sitting right there. Paws neatly pressed together. Silent and still as a statue. And there right next to him sat Fluffy. Paws neatly pressed together and still as a statue. I didn't get it right then. I looked from one perfectly solid cat to the other in utter confusion, which is probably the reason I remember the entire thing so clearly. It was one of those emotionally charged moments that continue to rummage around in our mental attics for years.
In fact, I didn't get it until Blacky-Wacky curled up his paw and proceeded to casually examine his Kitty-cat manicure. Time seemed to have stopped. No one moved for what seemed to be a very long time. Then B.W. lifted his seriously green eyes and looked straight at me. He looked over to the very silent people table. He glanced over at Fluffy. Back at me. He put his paw down and neatly pressed his dainty feet together again.
And in that strange non- time between one second and the next, I got it. The world started to move again. But it was a different world and, for me after that, it always would be.
The grownup people table saw one small black and white kitten and one small blue-eyed child sitting on the kitchen floor in front of the big wood-burning stove. They did not see any small fluffy gray kitten. They never had seen a small fluffy gray kitten anywhere in or out of the kitchen and they never would.
I had no idea that a cat face could hold an expression so wise and profound, but Blacky-Wacky looked all of that and a whole lot more. He yawned. He stretched as if to signal that his work here was pretty much done. Yep, he almost smirked, pretty much went according to plan, it did.
So now I knew. I knew that some things were meant for me and me alone. And those things were the sort of things that one does not mention in polite company unless someone else happens to bring it up first. Some things were just not the sort of things that just anyone jumping over the backyard fence or sitting at the big harvest table playing cards would ever see or understand. Perhaps they just didn't want to. It is better to not try to explain such things to those who would just rather not see them. They find it more than a wee bit disturbing.
Fluffy slowly began to fade after that night. She just seemed to become dimmer and dimmer until one day she was simply gone. I don't really know who or what she actually was or how she came to be hanging around with Blacky-Wacky under the big wood burning stove in my parent's kitchen.
To this day if I see certain things-and I do all of the time-it has become second nature to scan the faces of the people around me. If they didn't see it, then I don't bring it up. I have learned to 'be silent' about such things thanks to one small black and white cat.
It is however also true that if these same people just happen to have cats of their own, I frequently find myself exchanging knowing glances with an orange tabby or a Siamese.
When my Witch friends and I get together though, it is a whole other matter. All human and cat eyes have been known to follow something as it moves across the room or down the staircase. Then we all just go back to our conversations and paw cleaning. Interesting enough, that, but no big deal.
We moved away for about six months when I was almost nine. My mother and grandmother were at that point in their relationship where there were just too many women in the house. Blacky-Wacky was a country cat. That house and yard was his home and so we left him there with my grandmother in the place where he was born. I saw him every week when we visited my grandmother and the two or more generations got together to drink the ever perking coffee and play cards around the big harvest table in the kitchen.
That next winter, my grandmother found Blacky-Wacky curled up in his bed in the back of the barn. She thought he was sleeping, but when she touched him, he was already stiff and cold. B.W., sometime during that previous night, had checked his schedule and decided it was time to move on. I cried for days and days. We had grown up together. He was my teacher and my friend and I missed him very much. I still do.
I buried him under the old-fashioned apple tree where we first met.
Walk in Light and Love,
December 18th., 2000
The Witches' Voice
Author's note: My daughter, Skye, was gifted with "Two Sights" as was I from an early age. I often told her this story as she was growing up and struggling to understand her ability to see things that others did not. It is now part of our family history.
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