May 11th, 2013

Curiosities of Indo-European tradition and folk-lore

Curiosities of Indo-European tradition and folk-lore

Walter K.Kelly

London, 1863


The question why the chariot of the goddess Freyja was drawn by cats, and why Holda was attended by maidens riding on cats, or themselves disguised in feline form, is easily solved. Like the lynx, and the owl of Pallas Athene, the cat owes its celestial honours above all to its eyes, that gleam in the dark like fire, but the belief in its supernatural powers may very probably have been corroborated by the common observation that the cat, like the stormy boar, is a weatherwise animal. Pigs, as everybody knows, see the wind ; in Westphalia they smell it. Good weather may generally be expected when the cat washes herself, but bad when she licks her coat against the grain, or washes her face over her ears, or sits with her tail to the fire. In Germany, if it rains when women have a large washing on hand, it is a sign that the cats have a spite against them, because they have not treated the animals well ; an enemy to cats may reckon upon it that he will be carried to his grave in wind and rain ; and in Holland, if the weather is rainy on a wedding-day, the saying is that the bride has neglected to feed the cat. Seeing that these sly creatures know so much of the weather, and are more than suspected of having a share in making it, nothing can be more unwise than to provoke them, as English sailors know very well. They do not much like to see cats on board, but least of all do they like to see them unusually frisky (игривый), for then they say " the cat has a gale of wind in her tail."