Cats in Spells

Occasionally, cats were thought to have been used as sacrificial victims in the casting of spells. In 1590-1591, John Fian and his coven were accused of trying to drown Queen Anne and her husband King James on their ocean voyage to Denmark. Apparently, the witches christened a cat, tied it to a chopped-up human body, and threw the bundle into the ocean while reciting incantations. A huge storm arose and the royal ship was forced to return to Scotland (Guiley 1989 53). In another explanation for the same storm, according to the 1591 Newes From Scotland,

John Fian, alias Cunninghame, master of the school at Saltpans, Lothian, ever nearest to the devil, at his left elbow … chases a cat in Tranent. In which chase he was carried high above the ground, with great swiftness, and as lightly as the cat herself, over a higher dyke. Asked to what effect he chased the creature, he answered that in a conversation held at Brumhoillis, Satan commanded all that were present to take cats: like as he, for obedience to Satan, chased the said cat, to raise winds for destruction of ships and boats (Wedeck 158).

In other folklore, if a cat jumps over a dead body, the corpse will become a vampire. To stop this, the cat has to be killed. In addition, during the 17th century, a cat boiled in oil was believed to be excellent for dressing wounds. Illnesses could be tranferred to felines, which were then driven from homes. Diseases could also be created with cats. In order to cause the plague, a powder made from the body of a cat stuffed with fruit, herbs, and grain is hurled down from mountaintops (Russell 1972 240).

As a fertility charm, “a cat buried in a field will ensure a bountiful crop” (Guiley 1989 53). Conversely, to destroy crops, some accused witches were said to have filled the skin of a cat with assorted vegetable matter, put it in a spring for a period of three days, and then to dry and grind the mixture. “On a windy day they go up a mountain and scatter the powder across the land as a sacrifice to the Devil, who in return for their offering will destroy the crops” (Kieckhefer 195-196).

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2 comments on “Cats in Spells

  1. phyreblade says:

    Lawd. So many cat spells, So little time! Actually, I must sadly report that they do not all work. We had so many cats when i was growing up, I should be a storm cloud laying, pestilence spewing, crop destroying Vampire by now…

    But maybe I’m being nit picky. 3 out of 4 ain’t bad. I guess I’ll have to work on the Vampire bit some other way… LOL ;)

  2. ladyofspiders says:


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