Article by J. Roslyn Antle
Today, images of witches and black cats are likely associated with Halloween decorations, but not too long ago, the scary duo was regarded with a mixture of fear and trepidation. Woe to anyone walking alone on a dark night if he spies a black cat lying in wait on the path. And worse still, a witch may be lurking nearby, seeking to cast a hex on the unwary traveler!
Such concerns are the stuff of village tales, superstition and folklore, though it was considered gravely serious at the time. Since the middle ages, black cats have been regarded somewhat differently than the rest of their feline brethren. This is due to the folklore that surrounds black cats that still exists in some communities to this day.
Some European cultures considered a black cat to be a bad omen. The superstition of a black cat crossing your path being bad luck is very well known throughout North America and other parts of the world. The Irish culture believed the appearance of a black cat beneath the moonlight foretold great illness. Likewise, the Italians believed that a sick person visited by a black cat would soon perish.
Alternatively, some cultures believe the exact opposite; a black cat walking towards you or the appearance of a black cat portends good luck. Other cultures, in particular the South African religion Hoodoo believes that a particular bone within a black cat can be used to impart someone with invisibility or other special powers.
The black cat suffered the most in areas of Europe that partook in the horrid practice of witch trials and witch burnings. The black cat was considered to be a witch