Humans have long worshipped gods formed in the image of the nature and wildlife that makes up their environment. Unsurprisingly, then, cats have appeared in the mythologies of many cultures across continents. If you’re curious, read on for just a few examples.
Big cats, such as lions and lionesses, have often been associated with power, warfare, and rulers. The lion and the lion’s mane symbolize masculine pride and power. The lioness, meanwhile, is associated with fierce protection of her cubs. For example: the deity Bast, of ancient Egypt, was depicted as a fierce lioness and was originally a protector goddess.
In various cultures of the Americas, other native big cats became symbolic. The Olmecs, one of the first major Mexican civilizations, both feared and admired the power of the jaguar. The Incas also ultimately worshipped the jaguar.
In monotheistic Abrahamic religions, animals are not worshipped in the same way. Nonetheless, certain beliefs and superstitions have been appropriated. In Christianity, cats are believed to be associated with the Devil – like due to the association of cats and witchcraft that came about during the Middle Ages. In Islam, cats have had a better reputation; while many animals are considered unclean, cats are not. Mohammed purportedly loved cats and blessed them with the ability to land on their feet.
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