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Why Do Witches Ride Brooms and Have Black Cats?

Why Do Witches Ride Brooms and Have Black Cats?


@jointhecovn i’ll never look at rye bread the same #ryebread #halloween #witches #broomstick #witchy #halloweenhistory #daystilhalloween #top10scary #factsyoudidntknow #curiosity #historyfacts #medievalhistory #tarot ♬ Paris - Else


So why do witches have such a strong association to black cats in particular? There are many different factors that have contributed to the pairing over history. 

Among the superstitious, one of the oldest and most enduring worries is that crossing paths with a black cat will bring bad luck. One of the earliest inclinations of this was when in 1233, Pope Gregory IX issued an official church document in which black cats were declared "an incarnation of Satan". 

Alongside this association to Satan, black cats became inextricably linked to witches in medieval Europe. Black cats tended to make better mouse-catchers due to they're dark colour making them harder to be detected at night. This meant that practical witches would keep them around to stop mice getting at their herbs and plants. 

Many women who had cats were labelled as witches, as witches "honoured the natural world, having deep respect for plants and animals". Therefore affection between human and animal was seen as devilish, and an old lady with her cats became seen as suspect. 

Also not helping black cat owners' cases was that Hecate: Goddess of witchcraft (see our blog post about her here) was described as having a cat according to European folklore. 

So that's the cat case closed. The reason as to why witches ride brooms is much more scandalous. Take this as your potentially NSFW warning for the rest of this article. 

It actually starts with bread. In the Middle Ages to the Renaissance, bread in Europe was mainly made with rye. Rye, in high doses can be fatal, but in lower doses, is a highly effective hallucinogen. This old fashioned psychedelic was better experienced when not ingested, but when absorbed through the skin, to avoid nauseous side effects. The most receptive areas for the absorption of the drug was through the armpit, or ... the mucus membranes of the genitals. 

Can you see where this is going yet? 

People used their developing pharmacological knowledge to produce drug laden balms. In order to gain maximum effectiveness, these balms were rubbed on the domestic broom and well, you get the idea. 

In terms of flying on the broomstick however, is thought to be due to association of the broom with 'getting high' from its use with the balms. 

So what do you think? Do black cats deserve their spooky reputations? Or are they just victims of association?

And more importantly, do you ever think you can look at a witch's broom the same way? We can't. 


Further Reading:

Why Black Cats are Associated with Halloween and Bad Luck

Why Do Witches Ride Brooms?

The Origins of Witches Riding Broomsticks


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