Understanding the Tarot Symbolism of the Cat
Depending upon the time period and culture, the symbolism of the cat can either be positive or negative. In ancient Egypt, the cat was associated to the goddess Isis and Bast (the cat headed Goddess). The cat was believed to be sacred and was connected to the moon. As a symbol, the cat served as a representation of love, happiness, fertility and protector of the home. Both the Greeks and Romans associated the cat with the Goddess Artemis. Artemis was a great hunter and personified feminine wisdom and knowledge. In Celtic cultures, there was also an appreciation for the cat. They associated the cat to the Goddess Brighad and considered cats to be a symbol of friendship and companionship.
During the medieval times, however, the cat was associated to witches. Because of their ability to hunt at night, they were believed to be influenced by dark forces. Some Native American tribes believed that cats had magical powers and could set curses on people. The early American Pilgrims also had negative views of the cat and considered them to be unlucky and predicative of bad omens.
Symbolically, cats can represent death, rebirth and resurrection. This is often associated to the fact that cats do, indeed, have nine lives. As nocturnal hunters, cats can also be associated to darkness and night. Darkness and/or the night often represent the unconscious, the dream world or things that remain hidden or a mystery. Their association to the moon represents femininity and intuitive knowledge. Cats can also be a symbol of magic and healing.
The cat’s disposition is independent, calculating, patient and swift. They can teach us about flexibility and adaptability. They often remind us to let go of rigid thinking or inflexible behavior. Their independence and reserve is often seen as aloofness. In truth, they can teach us about setting boundaries or emotionally detaching from people or situations that are harmful.
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