The Symbolic (and Not-So-Spooky) Meaning of Crossing Paths With a Black Cat
What To Do If You See a Black Cat
Seeing a black cat can be very polarizing—depending on how you view black cats, it’s either terrifying or reassuring. “In many cultures, it is customary to spit over your shoulder to counter the evil eye from seeing a black cat cross your path,” says celebrity psychic Inbaal Honigman. “The association of the color black with evil, very likely stems from the very primal fear of the dark. But to many others, a black cat crossing your path is a sign that good luck is on its way, and that prosperity is near.”
Black Cats and Culture
Although cats weren’t considered to be gods in and of themselves, Honigman points out that in Ancient Egypt, it was popular for deities to be depicted as cats or as having cat heads.
“Bastet was a cat-headed Goddess, and Sekhmet had a lion head, which is also a big cat,” Honigman says. “Cats are depicted in a lot of ancient Egyptian artwork, and were even mummified.” Meanwhile, Honigman says that Greek, Roman, and Russian cultures also revered cats for possessing a “noble, hygienic demeanor" and enjoying their company.
All this to say, for centuries, culturally, cats—even black cats—have been praised, not feared. “Cats are reflective, intuitive, and balanced, and so spiritually are said to invoke these qualities in those who come across them,” Honigman says. “A cat of the color black, specifically, can slip in and out of shadows unnoticed, and has the added spiritual gift therefore, of a walker between the worlds.”
Black Cat Symbolism
Despite being highly revered for centuries, over time, black cats started to become clouded with different meanings. “A black cat symbolizes mystery and secrecy,” Honigman says. “To those fearful of the mysteries, the black cat may represent evil. But lovers of mysteries, magic, and the arts love that aspect of the cat symbolism. In that way, black cat meaning is subjective.
That said, if you keep seeing a bunch of black cats in your everyday life, Honigman says it’s not something to ignore. “It is definitely a message from the universe,” she says, noting that anything that is persistent and out of the ordinary is probably a message. “The Goddess Bastet from Ancient Egypt was a cat-headed deity and often depicted as black in color or as a black cat. Bastet's message is that of the home, feminine magic, and fertility.” As such, if you continuously see black cats, Honigman says that progress in those areas is likely. “A new home or an impending pregnancy perhaps,” she suggests.
On the other end of the spectrum, though, Honigman says that Bastet was also a shape-shifter, which black cats are known as, too. So, if you’re continually crossing paths with black cats, she says that it might be a sign to change your behavior to get the best results from a specific situation.
A Heavenly Sign
Some animals and people are thought to have powers—take psychics and black cats, for example. It’s because of this, that some people fear them while others embrace the meaning they can bring to life. With that in mind, psychic and creator of Psychic Reading Expert Christine Wallace says that it’s important to be mindful of the potential benefits of crossing paths with a black cat.
“People might fear crossing or getting into trouble with a psychic fearing that there is something sacred or special about them that God protects and they would avenge someone who might bother them or be cruel to them, this goes for a pregnant woman, a widow, or someone who is in mourning, especially if they mourn their own child,” she says. “It’s like the heavens have protected them and given them the power of an evil eye so if you hurt them, they may glance at the one who has hurt them with bitter feelings and some bad fortune would fall upon them.
“The same applies to the black cat and other creatures as well," says Wallace. "You would not want to kill a firefly, a ladybug, or a butterfly because they are gifted from the heavens.” Why these animals are considered to be so significant is a bit of a mystery. Due to their supposed meanings, Wallace says, crossing paths with them can always be a glass half-full instance. “If any of these creatures or animals are drawn to you this is a very good sign,” she says. “For example, if a black cat comes to play with you, it’s a blessing and good fortune will come—a ladybug or butterfly lands on you, or a firefly in the yard, all these bring good fortune.”
“Just like the number 13, which is seen as unlucky in Christianity, but lucky in Judaism, or plate smashing which invites good luck in Greece, but a smashed mirror is considered bad luck to the Romans, similarly, the black cat is considered both harbinger of fortune and alternatively misfortune, considering where you are,” says Honigman, reminding us all of the importance of perspective. “Like most things in life, superstition is largely a matter of geography."
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