Friday, August 17, 2012

"Cat Nights"...Hmm...

Today I learned of a new term: “Cat Nights”. I came across a little blurb about this specific date that falls toward the end of Summer, on the Farmer’s Almanac site. Both intriguing and rather ambiguous, the short bit of info on the subject seemed more anecdotal than anything. The origins of this night are credited to an “obscure” folk legend, though no actual folk tale or lore is actually presented. What follows is what said ‘blurb’ shared, along with a few thoughts of my own:

Tonight, August 17th, is when “Cat Nights” begin. The “obscure Irish Legend” states that a witch could turn herself into a cat 8 times, but during the 9th time on the night of August 17th, she could no longer change back into human form. This is said to have started the old saying about a “cat having nine lives”. It also mentions that as this night leads into a period of “yowly” cats, it made people suspect that said cat was actually a witch on the prowl. (Sounds like the cat's in heat, to me.)

This is the kind of legend/lore/history of a pagan nature or otherwise, that I enjoy reading up on and learning about. I immediately did some net surfing to try and locate a specific legend, or any other info that would clarify things. I came up with zip. The majority of the posts I found on other sites copied the Almanac post verbatim. Color me disappointed.

In terms of the little bit of information provided, I can only fill in the holes with products of my own grey cells. A witch turning herself into a cat…okay, I get that. I have seen that mentioned many times in many different places. Cats are historically Witch familiars, so a familiar once being an actual Witch could fit into the realm of folk lore and legend.

This is how I am interpreting the number of transformations given by the Almanac: A witch can only make 9 cat transformations within a year.  The last one (last chance) would absolutely fall on the night of August 17th. If the Witch chooses to transform 9 times, then she is basically saying that she knows that she will not be able to assume human form again, so she is accepting continuance of life as a cat. How else should one interpret that part of the tale? I just read the Almanac’s blurb again, and that’s how it reads to me. August 17th appears to be the time when the ‘change-into-a-cat’ countdown starts over…which begs another question. If a witch turned into a cat 8 times the previous year, does her countdown cycle start over, or is she rendered unable to change into a feline ever again? 

Inquiring minds wanna know! I would really like to know what the specific origins of “Cat Nights” are. If it is indeed based off an Irish legend, what legend? And where can I find it? I am intrigued enough to want to see some specifics. No, I won’t lose any sleep over it, but I would like to know. If you know of this “obscure” legend, and could clue me in, I would really appreciate it. 

(For the actual Farmer's Almanac blurb: )

1 comment:

  1. I am also intrigued by the Farmer’s Almanac blurb, which I just read, and so was searching the web and came across your post. I assume it is 9 changes in their lifetime and so the date of August 17th seems a bit odd. I’ll check back later to see anyone has provided additional information.