By Ronel Janse van Vuuren
I needed something to take my mind off my own life for a while, so I googled “August folklore” and found something fun.
Have you ever heard of the term “Cat Nights”?
Well, I haven’t. Which isn’t too odd considering that in my hemisphere it is now the start of spring and that the whole concept of Cat Nights has to do with the start of autumn.
Apparently one can find the term “Cat Nights” on calendars across Europe and America even today. The oldest (printed) reference to this is on the Old Farmer’s Almanac of 1792.
When do the Cat Nights begin? On August 17 as the Dog Days of summer draw to an end.
Of course it’s an obscure Irish legend that started it all (all great folklore has roots in old Ireland, I’ve found).
The legend states that a witch can transform into a cat, and back again, only eight times. If she tries it a ninth time, she will be stuck as a cat forever. The yowling of the cat is, of course, the witch lamenting her fate. Foolish witches are caught in this state particularly on August 17th and that is why caterwauling is so prominent on that day. (Though, I’m sure most owned by a cat will differ – cats like to test out their lungs on any given day or night.)
So now you know where the whole “cats have nine lives” and the idea of witches prowling around as cats came from.
Cats are truly amazing and have been the source of lots of folklore around the globe. (I wrote a piece about it on my blog a while back. You can read it here.)
There are constellations named for felines – check it out here.
And someone even wrote a poem about this obscure piece of folklore. You can read it here.
Mm, cats even make interesting characters. I’ve used them in my writing and they always take the story to unexpected places. (There are different cat characters – some faery cats, some regular cats – in my short story collection “Once…” that cause intrigue and plot twists whenever they appear.)
I hope you learned something new about cats and that you now have a smile on your face. Until October.
Ronel Janse van Vuuren is the author of New Adult, Young Adult and children’s fiction filled with mythology and folklore. Her dark fantasy stories can be read for free on Wattpad and on her blog Ronel the Mythmaker. She won Fiction Writer of the Year 2016 for her Afrikaans stories on INK: Skryf in Afrikaans. Her published works can be viewed on Goodreads.
Ronel can be found tweeting about writing and other things that interest her, arguing with her characters, researching folklore for her newest story or playing with her Rottweilers when she’s not actually writing.
All of her books are available for purchase on Amazon and other online retailers.
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