Halloween and the legend of the black cat
Like tea and biscuits or pie and chips, Black cats and Halloween have gone together for centuries. Some say black cats are bad luck others say they're good luck, and sources to explain the reasons for this seem scarce, but there are a few anecdotes and superstitions that seem to be connected.
Cats have been kept on ships as pest control since the dawn of ocean faring. It was believed that if they crossed a sailor's path at the pier it meant a bad voyage and if they went overboard during a voyage it meant storms and bad luck.
King Charles I had a black cat and was apparently arrested on the day it died. Whether said cat had recently crossed the king's path is unknown, but it is said that the cat had recently walked under a ladder.
Urban legend would have you believe that all cats, but especially black ones are in danger of being the victims of satanic or ritualistic practices at Halloween, although searching the internet seems to only reveal anecdotal evidence.
There certainly doesn't seem to be any connection between the festival and the black cat in any of the documentation detailing the beliefs or practices of any of the worlds major spiritual movements (including the so called 'darker' ones)
The first association between black cats and the darker side of life seems to be from a church edict dating back to the middle ages, which suggests that black cats are the 'friends of the devil'. The idea has persisted right through the Middle Ages, past the witch trials, and on to the present day.
Not entirely Halloween related, The Mill Hotel, just on the other side of Sudbury from here, has it's own locally infamous cat legend.
The part that I know to be true is that they have a mummified cat on the premises, which was found many years ago during a period of renovation.
The legend asserts that if the cat is ever removed a terrible disaster will ensue, and allegedly in the 1970's it was removed and promptly suffered a devastating fire.
Upon the reconstruction the mummified cat was returned and has remained on display ever since.
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