Black cats and witches go together like newt’s eyes and cauldrons! The black cat has been following in the footsteps of their witchy master for as long as anyone can remember, and it’s no wonder. Cats are mysterious, agile, cunning, and vicious hunters. Cats get what they want and always land on all fours no matter what. The power and worship of cats goes back to ancient Egypt and to the goddess Bast, the mother of all cats. Bast was the goddess of love, sexuality, fertility and music. She was a strong, sensual goddess and is often depicted as being part cat or being surrounded by cats. Her grace, beauty and mystery matched that of the cat and this is where the story begins. Witches were always seen as wild women, women without morals and who eschewed the domination of men and of male run society. Because of its relation to Bast, the strong sexual goddess, the cat has always been seen as a sign of a woman’s rebellion against the norm, and a retreat into “darkness”. Witches have always been one with nature, and so it was only natural for a witch to develop a friendship with animals. A single animal who is fiercely loyal to a witch, and who aids in their magic is called a familiar, and the black cat is the most popular familiar of all.
The draw of a witch’s cat has persisted into modern society and witches in movies, on tv, and in books often have a loyal cat that appears to have chosen them – though few actually show witches working with their cats! Your cat friend can help cleanse your home of negative energy, lend energy to spells and rituals, and offer a connection to certain deities. If your cat is willing, incorporating them into your practice can be rewarding for both of you.
Since it’s Friday the 13th, let’s start with the real king of the magickal cats – the black cat!
The Black Cat
The black cat is the one most associated with witches and magick. In French the black cat is called matagot, or the magician’s cat. Contrary to North American superstitions, the matagot was considered good luck and any family who welcomed such a cat into their home was truly blessed. In England and Japan, a black cat crossing your path is seen as a good luck charm.
When the Pilgrims came to North America, armed with biblical level prejudice, they feared anything that could be considered evil. They claimed all black cats were either witch’s familiars or witches themselves who could shapeshift. This is why many people believe black cats are unlucky now.
In Scotland a fairy creature known as the Cat Sidhe (Cat She) was depicted as a large black cat with a white spot on his chest and was known as the king of the cats! Like most fairy creatures, the Cat Sidhe was not trusted but the people of the Scottish highlands. Legend said that the cat Sidhe could steal the soul of a person who had recently died before their soul could be taken to the afterlife by the gods, by passing over the body before the funeral. Night watches were set up and many methods of distraction were often set up to keep the Cat Sidhe away from the body at all costs. It was also said that this spectral cat was attracted to warm fires (cats love to sleep on the hearth!) and so none were lit in the funeral room. On Samhain, households that put out a saucer of milk for the Cat Sidhe would be blessed for the year with good luck, and houses that did not would be cursed with dried up cows until the following Samhain when they got a chance at redemption. In later years the legend changed to be about a witch who could take the form of a cat, rather than a creature from the Faerie realm.
The black cat was always seen as a symbol of magick and the mysteries on the night time world. Many black cats are depicted almost being electrically charged. This nocturnal mystery was a companion to wise women, healers, conjurors, and cunning men who gathered magickal herbs by the light of the moon.
Use images of the matagot in your spells to increase your magickal power, to incite mystery and energy of the moon, and to bring on good luck.
The Magick of House Cats
Whether you’ve got a familiar, or just a friend (or many!) cats have a ton of magical benefits that can improve the energy of your home and your overall well-being.
Cats climb in, on, around, and underneath EVERYTHING. They have a very fluid way of getting into all of the corners and dark spots in your home, and since cats are so in tune with energy – it’s no mistake. Cats move energy around, break up stale or negative energy, and keep the overall feeling of your home more positive – and they do it on purpose.
Like most animals, cats can also sense things like illness, sadness or depression, and negative emotions or situations. Some cats will bolt, but many will do their best to improve the situation. Whether that’s just by being there and breaking up negative energy, cuddling to cheer you up, or clearing the space through sound. Purring is a very gentle, repetitive sound that clears the energy of a space and since you know it’s a loving sound it will instantly lift your spirits and offer support.
At nighttime, cats take their jobs as night watchmen very seriously and not only protect you from physical assailants, but can also help to keep away spirits and nightmares. If you suffer from nightmares, clear your bedroom with smoke like sage or sandalwood, and maybe tuck a protective herb into your pillow (I like rosemary!). Before you go to bed call in your cat and gently explain to them the problem and ask them to keep you safe. Cats can sense when something is wrong and yours will no doubt stay close all night.
Of Course there are Goddesses of Cats!
Though cats were prominently featured in ancient Egyptian art work and magick and many gods and goddesses worked with cats, no cat deity is more famous than Bast, or Bastet – the Egyptian goddess with the head of a regal black cat.
Bast is the goddess of fertility, love, music, and sexuality. She was most frequently depicted as a woman with the head of a black cat and holding a sistern (Egyptian musical instrument) or basket. Her city was Bubastis, and here her temple featured a lush grove and was home to many temple cats who were pampered to no end. The temple also served as the final resting place for other beloved cats of the common people. Thousands of mummified cats have been found in a tomb in the temple at Bubastis, and it’s believed that by laying their beloved pets to rest here that their words and prayers would reach the goddess. There were even a few royal shrines erected by pharaohs for their cats.
Bast is gentle, loving and understanding – though fiercely protective of her family. When Bast becomes threatened she takes on the persona of predatory lioness Pasht. She loves to celebrate, dance, and have fun. Her festivals in mid-April always caused quite a stir and are often compared to a modern day mardi gras.
Call on Bast when you want to do magick to increase your sexuality or sexual attraction, and for fertility or pregnancy.
Sekhmet is another Egyptian cat deity, though sort of the polar opposite of Bast. Sekhmet was portrayed with the head of a lioness and was often shown with a crown of fire or pure sunlight and a cobra. She was often referred to as ‘The Terrible One’ or ‘She Who is Powerful’. She was the goddess of human fate and is often associated with the colour red to symbolize the power of the sun and the blood shed during battle. She was a goddess of power, fire, and war. She was often honoured and prayed to by soldiers before marching off.
Though she sounds terrifying, Sekhmet of course had her softer qualities. She was a fierce protector who brought closure to unhealthy situations, was incredibly wise, and fiercely protective of her people.
Call on Sekhmet if you feel threatened of attacked, to defend your home, and for courage and strength in difficult situations.
Freya was a Norse goddess of love and sexuality, beauty, magick, shapeshifting and was the leader of the Valkyries. She was also known as the mistress of cats because she rode in a chariot pulled by two large, silver lynx-type cats. Cats are known as a sacred animal to the goddess and farmers who put out milk for stray cats were thought to be blessed by Freya.
Freya was also a talented witch and taught other Norse gods about love potions and charms. In modern days she’s associated with magick, witches, intuition, cat magick, enchantment, and female power.
Call on Freya when you need to get in touch with your feminine side, magick to do with love, boosting your intuition or psychic power, or when you’re unsure which path to take and maybe need to hop a lift on a cat-drawn chariot.
Attracting your own feline familiar
Many witches believe that the familiar will choose the witch, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be a bit proactive. Visit animal shelters and maybe even volunteer and see if any cats get attached. Finding a cat through a shelter or fostering program as opposed to going through a breeder assures that your cat is familiar with people, in good health and well cared for, and allows you to learn a bit more about their personality. It also means your cat will be extra appreciative of their new home.
You can also attract a new familiar to your home by planting cat nip and cat grass outside (you’ll make so many new friends!), putting images of cats in your windows that have been charged with this intent and you can even do candle spells to attract them. Brown candles are often used in magick dealing with animals, and luckily they can be found almost anywhere – usually in delicious scents. Many metaphysical stores will carry cat-shaped figure candles, and if you can find one in brown you’re extra set!
Dress your candle in an attracting oil, or maybe even catnip oil, and meditate on the kind of familiar you feel you need. This is no different than attracting love or a new job, just focus your intent on the kind of companion you wish you attract and put that energy out in the world. You can carve the qualities you want into the candle, burn the candle on top of a list you’ve made and even put the candle in the window for extra visibility. Do this once a month, especially on or after the new moon, until your new familiar makes itself known to you. In that time keep an eye and an ear out for cats, maybe re-visit or volunteer at those local shelters.
Familiar or Just a Friend?
Unfortunately, just because you find a cat you really click with, doesn’t mean they’ll be interested in being a familiar. It’s important not to force it. Ease the cat into it. Start by setting up some magical items on the floor somewhere they like and see how they react. If you want to keep everything on an altar, maybe set up a perch nearby! A tall cat tree right near the altar will make it clear they’re welcome and even have their own place to join or observe.
Offer treats before rituals so they associate treats and pets and chin scritches with ritual time. If you want to physically bring them into a circle or working space be very gentle and let them leave if they’re uncomfortable.
Incorporate catnip into your spells or rituals! Catnip is popular in spells to attract love and best friends; it attracts good spirits and good luck to your home, and helps with overall happiness for everyone. It’s a wonderful member of the mint family to incorporate into almost any magical working.
A magickal cat or familiar will be interested in your magick in some way, and not act like you’ve just brought out the vacuum cleaner. They will either stand guard in the same way every time, they will enter your circle and lend their energy, or they might even actively participate! If a cat you’ve had for a while is interested in your magick and really wants to be a part of it you may have already found your familiar.
And what if the cat you’ve chosen to be your familiar isn’t interested? Just cherish your pet for exactly who they are, and enjoy all of the benefits that any cat can bring into your home and life.
Feline Friendly Sketchy Herbs and Magic Rocks!
Catnip: Encourages love, good fortune, beauty, and happiness. Tuck the flowering tops into charm bags for these purposes and bless it before giving it to your magickal cat.
Valerian: another herb cats love! Valerian flowers and leaves are used in spells for love; to help get a good night’s sleep, for protection, and to encourage good health.
Amber is sacred to Freya and can offer safety and relief in the birth of kittens.
Citrine is a popular protection talisman for cats.
Lapis Lazuli was a popular stone in ancient Egypt for healing and increasing psychic abilities.
Cat’s Eye is a stone of protection and is often used to protect from the evil eye and to bring good luck. The Cat’s Eye also protects the accident prone, much like a cat always landing on its feet.
Tiger’s Eye comes in three colours – gold, red, and blue. The gold is used for creativity, prosperity, and balance. The blue is used for intuition, emotional balance, and peace. The red is all about vitality, confidence, and energy.
Some Everyday Cat Magick
Cats have a natural connection to the moon, mystery, and magick. As such working with a cat or familiar can be incredibly rewarding and can boost your magick. Working magick with your cat necessitates a certain closeness between the two of you.
First, work on being able to call your cat easily. Visualize your companion coming toward you, and then speak its name. No need to shout. Once you reach the relationship of witch and familiar, your cat should know when it’s needed for magickal work.
Next you need to be able to get a little physical with your cat. Gently holding and petting your cat calms and relaxes the both of you, but also raises energy. This is a metaphysical energy, but also an electrical charge! When the air is dry you can see the electricity coming off of your cat and you might generate some shocks if you pet them too long.
Now that your cat is in the right place and frame of mind gently and simply ask for assistance and let the cat know what you’re up to. True cat ladies always talk to their cats, don’t pretend that you don’t! Be straight and quick with it, and do your spell right away. Afterwards close up the spell and remember to thank your cat. Maybe come up with a special treat just for after ritual.
Of course, a true partnership involves give and take on both sides, so you should try and use magick to improve the life of your friend as well!
Start off simply by blessing or enchanting their food and treats before giving it to them. Call on any of the above goddesses or just charge the food with positive energy. Send energy for healing, happiness, and even magick into the food. Infuse their treats with feelings of love or gratitude before handing it over.
When you bring home a new cat do a small ritual and bless the cat and your relationship with a long and happy life.
If your cat is at the vet or recovering from illness you can do a small smell to encourage healing by lighting a white, pink, or green candle and either charging it with healing light or calling on Freya for help.
If the time comes to say goodbye to a beloved cat, you should do a ritual for parting and saying goodbye. Light a candle and burn incense made of rosemary for remembrance, basil for love and devotion, lavender for protection, and of course cat nip. Ask the cat goddesses to carry your pet into the afterlife and to take care of them. The Valkyries, under the watch of Freya, were charged with escorting warriors into Valhalla and so calling on them might be a nice symbol as well. You can also put these herbs and some crystals for cats into a small sachet and bury it with your cat, or ask the vet to include it in the cremation. If you’ve decided not to keep remains (or can’t afford it) many vets will agree to take a paw print of the cat before they put them down. Keep this on your altar and honour for familiar in rituals.
Choose a magickal name for your cat! Research names associated with cats or magick or different cat legends. You can even include a name ceremony when you welcome your new cat into ritual.
Finally, get a collar for your cat and decorate it with symbols of protection and magick! This can be painted right on, or can dangle as a decoration. Maybe find a small citrine point or a piece of amber. You could also make your own cat collar and infuse it with blessings, get a name tag printed with your cat’s magickal name or make up a rune/symbol/or sigil for your cat and have that stamped onto a tag!
No matter what kind of cat you find (or that find you!), they’ll bring magick, mystery, and love into your home and life. They’ll keep away negative entities and vibes, keep your home’s energy moving and changing, and of course… offer cuddles. I can’t imagine seeing any cat as bad luck, even on friday the 13th!
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