Animal Superstitions

Cats

A Norse legend tells of the chariot of Freya, the Witch, that was pulled by black cats that became black horses. They were exceedingly swift and surely possessed by the Devil. After serving Freya for seven years, the cats were rewarded by being turned into witches, disguised as black cats. This seems to have led to the belief in the Middle Ages that black cats were familiars of witches, and after seven years, became witches themselves. They believed if a black cat crossed your path, Satan was taking notice of you.

A black cat is lucky or unlucky, depending on where you live.

Cats were sacred to the goddess Isis in Egyptian mythology.

Bast or Pasht, the daughter of Isis, was represented with the face of a cat.

Anyone who killed a cat was put to death.

Archaeologists in Egypt found cat cemeteries from which a shipment of embalmed cats was taken to England. In Egypt it was believed that a black cat crossing one's path brought good luck.

The idolized cats of Egypt and the Witch cats of Europe leave this superstition open to individual interpretation, so when a black cat crosses your path, you pick.

The cat is not harmed to satisfy any of these beliefs. The rabbit, however, is not so lucky. A left hind foot, carried in the left pocket after having been removed from a rabbit that was killed during a full moon by a cross-eyed person is truly lucky. The foot is considered a powerful charm against evil because the rabbit's strong hind legs touch the ground before its front legs. Ancient people thought this so remarkable that they ascribed magical powers to it.

Dogs

"Love me, love my dog" is an ancient Latin proverb.

Greeks thought dogs could foresee evil.

Howling dogs mean the wind god has summoned death, and the spirits of the dead will be taken.

Rabbits

Before Christianity in the British Isles, the hare, like the cat, was thought to be a Witch in disguise. This Witch could only be killed with a silver bullet.

Since rabbits and hares are born with eyes open, which is an erroneous notion, they supposedly had special powers over the evil eye.

Because of the rabbit's ability to reproduce, the rabbit's foot also became a symbol of fertility.

Horses

A circular ring made form an iron horseshoe nail gives the same protection against evil as the horseshoe itself. The horseshoe or crescent moon shape was seen as a sign of good fortune and fertility.

One legend says that the Devil called on St. Dunstan, who was skilled in shoeing horses. St. Dunstan recognized him and fastened him to a wall. He then set to work with such roughness that the Devil roared for mercy. St. Dunstan turned the Devil loose after making him promise never to enter a home of which a horseshoe was fixed. Witches fear horses, so they are also turned away by a door with a horseshoe mounted on it. The horseshoe must be hung with the points up to keep the luck from spilling out.

A white horse could warn of danger, and lived longer then a dark horse, so was considered a living amulet against early death. Spotted horses are magical. Gray horses and horses with four white socks are unlucky.

Birds

A bird that flies into a house, foretells an important message.

The white bird foretells death.

Blue Jay spends Fridays with the Devil, telling on us.

A bird call from the north means tragedy, from the south is good for crops, from the west is good luck, from the east, good love.

Storks deliver babies.

Storks were sacred to Venus in Roman mythology.

If a stork builds a nest on your roof, you have received a blessing and a promise of never ending love from Venus. Aristotle made killing a stork a crime, and Romans passed a stork law, saying that children must care for their elderly parents.

A wish made on the first robin of spring will be granted.

A peacock feather has an evil eye at the end.

Argus, the Green legend, says a hundred eyed monster was turned into a peacock with all it's eyes in it's tail.

Bugs

A cricket is a lucky spirit that takes its luck away when it leaves. A cricket can tell of oncoming rain, death and ex-lovers. Superstitious people probably don't kill spiders because it has been unlucky since a spider spun a web over baby Jesus to hide him from Herod. A spider with syrup cures fever.

A spider is a repellent against plague when worn around the neck in a walnut shell. You'll meet a new friend if you run into a web. Seeing a spider run down a web in the afternoon means you'll take a trip. If a plow kills a daddy long legs, the cows will go dry.

Bats

A bat means long life and happiness, a good omen, to the Chinese and Poles. If a bat lands on your head, you should hope the Cricket sees rain coming because the bat won't get off until it hears thunder. When you see a bat, you might actually be seeing the Devil, a Witch, a ghost, or Dracula.

Elephants

In Siam, white elephants were rare and not made to work for their upkeep, so a White Elephant is an item that is a non-profit expense. Considering the value of space in our homes, items kept as memorabilia could be considered White Elephants.

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