Animals have long been part of folklore. They are often used in mythology, fairytales, legends and fables to teach us how to respect what is of value to our particular community. In many cases they can show us what’s important by portraying what happens when beliefs, customs and traditions aren’t honored. Among the most common animals are cats. Whether trickster or hero they are credited with possessing extraordinary talents and strengths.
That’s why, domestic or wild, they have long held a seat of importance in some of the world’s legendary and well-known empires. Ancient cultures revered them as mythical. Many believed that these four-legged animals were gods who could communicate with other deities on behalf of humans.
Here are 3 legendary felines:
- Brunswick Lion: A legendary German symbol. According to legends and through the stories that were handed down through generations, Henry the Lion witnessed a noble fight between a lion and dragon while on a pilgrimage. Henry joined the lion in its brawl with the dragon and helped the lion in assassinating the dragon. The lion then accompanied Henry in its way home. After his master’s death, the lion starved himself and dies mourning because of the death of his master. In honor to the lion’s loyalty to his master, the people of Brunswick built a statue.
- Lynx: This wild cat features prominently in Native North American mythology. Known as a “keeper of secrets” it is believed to have a mysterious and deceitful characteristic. Imbued with the power to see through objects, it is associated with the psychic power of clairvoyance and unveiling of the hidden truths.
A mythical creature famous for having the body of the lion and a
human-like head. According to Greek traditions, it also has the rump of a
lion and the wings of a great bird. In many folk tales it is cruel and
merciless. For example, with its Sphinx Riddle it has the ability to cause
suffering for those unable to answer solve the riddle. Egyptians also have
there own version of the sphinx. However, unlike the Greek version, it is
human and uses ferocious strength to guard temple gates. Because
they are basically nocturnal, cats have also been linked in people’s minds with
witchcraft and paganism. Their feline prowess continues to be a mystery that
can be either a blessing or a curse, depending upon who is telling the story.
Here’s a look at some cat folklore:
- English schoolchildren believed seeing a white cat on the way to school was sure to bring trouble. To prevent the bad luck, they were to spit or turn around completely and make the sign of the cross.
- In 16th century Italy, people believed that if a black cat lay on the bed of a sick man, he would die. However, they also believed that a cat will not remain in the house where someone is about to die - if the family cat refused to stay indoors, this was a bad omen.
- Sailors used cats to predict the voyages they were about to embark upon. Loudly mewing cats meant that it would be a difficult voyage. A playful cat meant that it would be a voyage with good and gusty winds.