“Black cat crossing your path is inauspicious.” We are used to hearing this from our elders almost every time a black cat crosses the road. So here’s a short piece on the history of this tradition.
Myth: Black cat crossing your path will bring you bad luck
Mythological Belief: It’s a popular belief in the west that if a black cat crosses your path, it’s a bad omen. For the west, the origin of this superstition came from Egypt. Egyptian culture believed that black cats were evil creatures, whereas the Indian explanation is that black represents Shani and therefore brings bad luck.
Actual reason: In ancient times, the journeys would be pretty long. Though undesirable, people had to travel through forests in bullock carts with the light of a kerosene lantern. The animals pulling the carriage come face to face with big cats like leopards, hyenas and jackals foxes. These animals have glowing eyes and scare the cows, horses or bulls that pull the carts. That is why the travelling party halts nearby. The animals would be in trauma and hence behaved accordingly. The animals ideally were to be given rest after such instances and hence the travelers would take a halt. Travelers shared their hard experiences and told other travelers not to proceed travel after the cats crossed the path and in the course of time, modified stories got passed down from generation to generation. The cat crossings got live and the people forgot forest cats and took the domestic cats instead. And the term black cats came as during the night time they appeared black (Common sense eh!).
Method to reverse the omen (by some great enthusiast): The most common belief is that if a black cat crosses your intended path, then bad luck will befall you. To reverse the curse of a black cat crossing your path, first walk in a circle, then go backward across the spot where it happened and count to 13, chanting a charm or line from the Bible.
So this is what the history of cats crossing our paths being an ill omen is all about.