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 Vampyres and Cats

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Number of posts : 63
Location : UK
Registration date : 2008-02-09

PostSubject: Vampyres and Cats   Thu Feb 14, 2008 6:04 pm

From Curses, Hexes, and Spells by Daniel Cohen

Another side to the cat's reputation of being supernaturally evil is
its long-standing connection with vampirism. While the witches freely
offered blood to cat familiars for the power the familiars might give
them, there is an ancient belief that cats also sucked the blood of
unwilling victims, that, in fact, cats were vampires. This belief
seems to even predate the idea of cats as witches' familiars, indeed
to predate the concept of witchcraft itself. According to Hebrew
folklore Adam had a wife before Eve. Her name was Lilith, and she left
paradise because she refused to submit to Adam. Since that time, she
has haunted the night as a demon and a vampire. The Sephardic Jews
believed that Lilith, in the form of a huge black cat called El
Broosha, sucked the blood of newborn victims.

The ancient belief that cats represent some sort of mortal danger to
infants persists in a somewhat altered form today. New mothers are
often warned not to allow cats to sleep in an infant's room for fear
that the cat might "suck" an infant's breath or smother the child. Few
realise that the belief stretches back to Jewish legends of Lilith as
a vampire cat.

Another belief was that cats or demons in cat form were able to turn
the recently dead into vampires. Great care was always taken to keep
cats out of a room in which the corpse of a person was laid out.

Behind this fear was the idea that the cat was a demon which could
possess the fresh body. Any cat that wandered into a room where there
was a body was immediately killed if it could be caught. If the cat
wasn't disposed of the result might be terrible as this
seventeenth-century account quoted by Howley illustates:

"Johannes Cuntius, a citizen and alderman of Pentach, in Silesia,
when about sixty years of age, died somewhat suddenly, as the result
of a kick from his horse. At the moment of his death a black cat
rushed into the room, jumped on the bed and scratched violently at his
face. Both at the time of his death and that of his funeral a great
tempest rose - the wind and snow made men's bodies quake and their
teeth chatter in their heads. The storm is said to have ceased with
startling suddenness as the body was placed under the ground.

Immediately after the burial, however, stories began to circulate of
the appearance of a phantom which spoke to people in the voice of
Cuntius. Remarkable tales were told of the consumation of milk from
jugs and bowls, of milk being turned into blood, of old men soiled
with blood, and poultry killed and eaten. Eventually, it was decided
to disinter the body. It was found that all the bodies buried above
that of Cuntius had become putrefied and rotten, but his skin was
tender and florid, his joints by no means stiff, and when a staff was
put between the fingers they closed around it and held it fast in
their grasp. He could open and shut his eyes, and when a vein in his
leg was punctured the blood sprang out as fresh as that of a living
person. This happened after the body had been in the grave for about
six months. Great difficulty was experienced when the body was cut up
and dismembered by the order of authorities, by reason of the
resistence offered; but when the task was completed and the remains
consigned to the flames, the spectre ceased to molest the natives or
interfere with their slumbers or health."

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