In the metaverse Second Life, I came across skeletons of cats. That in turn made me think of the story that appeared in the media and that my mother reminded me of, namely a woman who was surrounded by quite a lot of cats, so many cats that it had become a nuisance to neighbors. I and surely you, have heard several of these stories, in which the cats have taken over a home and the owner has completely lost control.

I like cats, always had cats, except for the last six years, where the last cat I lived with got too old to live anymore. Now I have the dog Atsjoo, but I’m really a cat person. Don’t get me wrong, Atsjoo is a dear part of the family. Once, way ahead, I’ll probably have a cat again.

It is not the first time there is a close connection between woman and cat. The goddess Frøya in Norse mythology traveled around in a sleigh pulled by cats, crying her golden tears over lost love — her husband who was never home. Somewhere it is written, I unfortunately do not remember where, that with the Christianization of Norway, the goddess image with the cats was turned into the motif of the witch, the cats were included.

According to Helen Parish, the animals were linked to processes connected to witches, the animals were seen as a transition between demons and humans, an animal could be a disguised demon (Parish, 2019). (Female) witches accounted for everything society could not bear or stand:

“The witch embodied and enabled conflict and contradiction, reflecting and creating anxieties about the nature of humanity, social order, heresy and heterodoxy, and the language of opposition between good and evil in moral and theological terms. In the hands of demonologists, inquisitors and law-makers, the multiple components of the archetypal witch crystallised around the imagery of the ‘demonic pact’, the personal relationship between the witch and devil, and the all-encompassing vocabulary of maleficium which made real these ideas in popular culture and social communities. In the character and actions of the witch, religion, ritual, magic, law, and social tensions intersected, creating a shared belief in the constructed enemy of Christian society. The vocabulary of demonologies, statute, and judicial processes made its way into popular culture, a culture that perpetuated and solidified that language by proving it to be anchored in the reality of the day-to-day.” (Parish, 2019, s. 2).

The cats were prone to demonization because it was one of the usual domestic animals. When the animals were considered as companions, in which one could place their emotions, there was a shift in the relationship between humans and animals. It was a boundary that was crossed and had social consequences. For example, children should not crawl on all fours, because then they resembled more animals than humans. (Parish, 2019, p. 6). Well, I’ve crawled a lot on all fours as a child, a whole summer I crawled, where I played that I was a puma
I will finish with a folk legend. It is taken from Peder Christen Asbjørnsen: Kvernsagn.

There was a farmer who had a mill. It burned two Pentecost nights in a row. When it was getting close Pentecost the third year, he went to a tailor to get some new clothes made.

«I wonder what’s will happen with the mill this time, if this one also burns tonight?» the man said. «There’s no need for that,» the tailor said, «give me the key and I’ll watch the mill.»

The man thought that was both all well and good; and when it was close to the evening, the tailor got the key and went down to the mill. He sat down in the middle of the floor, took some chalk he had with him and drew a circle around him. Around the circle he wrote Father’s Day and then he wasn’t afraid if the devil himself would come. At noon, the door abruptly flew up and in came cats, so many black cats that it was hard to see anything else.

They got a pot on the fireplace and to lay wood underneath and then it took to cook and boil in the pot, as if it were full of boiling tar.

«Aha» the tailor thought, «so this is how it is,» and as he thought this, one of the cats stretched the paw behind the pot and wanted to overturn it.  

«Scht cat, you’re burning yourself!» the tailor shouted.

«Scht cat, you burn yourself! says tailor to me,» the cat said to the other cats, and all of them ran away from the fireplace and started to jump and dance around the circle; suddenly, the same cat walked over to the fireplace again and would touch the pot.

«Scht cat, you burn yourself!» the tailor screamed, so loud that they rolled on the floor and then jumping and dancing as before.

Then they took to dancing around him, faster and faster and finally so fast that the tailor was dizzy, and they stared at him with such big bad eyes, as if they wanted to eat him alive.

But suddenly, the cat that had tried to overturn the pot stuck its paw inside the circle, as if she wanted to get hold of tailor. When the tailor saw this, he took his knife and was ready. The cat stretched the paw inside the circle on more time – but at the same moment the tailor chopped the paw off, and all the cats ran out the fastest they could, with howls and screams.

The tailor lay down inside the circle and slept until the sun was shining.  Then he got up, opened the mill, and went up to the farmhouse.

When he entered the living room, both the man and his wife were still lying, for it was Pentecostal.

«Bless the day,» the tailor said, handing the man his hand.

«Thank you,» the man said, and he was both happy and amazed when he saw the tailor.

«Bless the day, mother,» the tailor said, offering the woman his hand.

«Thank you,» the woman said. But she was so pale, and looked weird and disturbed, and her hand was under the duvet- but in the end she stretched out the left hand and then the tailor realized how it was, but if he told the man and how it went, no one knows.  

Source

Parish, H. (2019). “Paltrie Vermin, Cats, Mise, Toads, and Weasils”: Witches, Familiars, and Human-Animal Interactions in the English Witch Trials. Religions 2019, 10, 134.

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