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The Goddess and a cat - A farewell

Posted by on in Paths Blogs


We stroked his head and ran our hands along his body. He purred. We looked at him directly in the eyes and we sang songs. He purred. We told him of mice and birds and long summer days that would not end. He purred. We held him close, so very close, as the needle pierced his skin. The purring stopped. 

The last few days have been filled with tears and with fond remembrances of our dear cat, Bear Claw. He lived for almost twenty years. I have children that have never known a time before Bear Claw. Simply put, he was part of our family.

I spent the last year of his life as a care giver of sorts. As his health failed, I cleaned up after him. I helped him up to his favourite perches around the house. I carried him out into the warm sun on my shoulders and made sure his "apartment" was warm and comfortable. He and I spoke about how and when his life would end. We had an agreement that when the good days were outnumbered by the bad days, we'd part ways mercifully and quickly.

In the British Museum there's a collection of Egyptian statues of Bastet. My partner has had a long-term relationship with this goddess for more than twenty years. We have a large replica statue of the goddess Bast outside of our front door. In fact, she's been the guardian outside of our last few residences. Cats seem to find our house appealing and more than a few have found respite in our bushes and on the roof of our shed.

In typical Pagan fashion, our family began to turn our thoughts to how to ritually honour Bear Claw's passing. We created a simple enough ritual. We cleaned the statue of Bastet with warm water. We brushed away the leaves and spider webs. We set a small glass of wine behind the statue - Apparently, festivals to Bast were rollicking affairs with processions, boats and much drinking! - and set out a bowl of cat food as an offering. We lit three white candles. The first candle bore the name "Cleo", the first of our cats to leave us. The second candle had the name "Molly" inscribed on it. Molly was the stereotypical witches familiar. The third candle said "Bear Claw" We asked Bastet to guide Bear Claw home, to a place where cats are gods (as if they don't think that they already are gods!). We lit the candles to Cleo and Molly first and asked them to welcome their brother to his next life. And we cried a little more. In the coming days we'll no doubt sprinkle some of his ashes around the statue and add him to our altar for The Beloved Dead.

Type something like "how to remember our pets?" or "honouring our departed cat" into your favourite search engine and you'll find hundreds of web pages dedicated to our four-legged family members. There are some terribly sad poems about cats and dogs - I know, I spent an hour going down the proverbial Google rabbit hole and going through a whole box of tissues in the process.

Historically speaking, venerating animals is well documented. Mummified remains of cats have been found throughout Egypt. Horses, especially war horses, have been honoured in numerous ancient and modern cultures. Police and companion dogs are given full-blown funerals today.

How have you honoured your beloved companions?




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I've been a practicing witch and ritualist within the Reclaiming Tradition since 2003. I love being in service with this community of witches and world changers.   My own practice, my own way of changing the world is through devotional practice. It's my belief that we can re-enchant our lives by re-framing the so-called "mundane" as sacred and divine. By imbuing the familiar with a sense of wonder and infusing daily life with acts of magic, we choose to consciously make all of life devotion. Whether we engage in large, public rituals or sink sumptuously into the pure ecstasy of eating a delicious meal by ourselves or meditating at sunrise, our daily rituals can draw us back into harmony with the world and each other.  


  • Aleah Sato
    Aleah Sato Tuesday, 02 September 2014

    Heartfelt post... thank you.

    I had to say goodbye to my old feline companion last autumn, and it was astoundingly painful. I believe the relationships we form with other animals (not just human) can be as strong and meaningful. In many ways, our language barriers give is reason to delve deeper into connection with intuition and other senses. When my cat decided to take his leave, I held a memorial ceremony in a sacred canyon near my home, where the burials of archaic people, animals and healers have been documented.

  • Gwion Raven
    Gwion Raven Wednesday, 03 September 2014

    You know Aleah, I think you are on to something there. We stroke and pet, feel their warmth next to us and pay attention to their body language for communication clues. Of course, we do this with our human companions too, but words and subtext often take precedence over touch and paying attentions.

  • Francesca De Grandis
    Francesca De Grandis Thursday, 04 September 2014

    Sorry to hear of yr loss. Blessings on yr family and departed kitty.

    I read your bio here. It sounds exactly like what I have taught for decades (even the wording is very close), so we are on the same page. Good! The more fellow travelers I have the better. It makes life more fun for me. Plus, we are a world of joy, in which others can play.

    May the joy your kitty gave you be a comfort to you in days ahead.

  • Gwion Raven
    Gwion Raven Thursday, 04 September 2014

    Thank you Francesca. How lovely and fascinating that our work in the world seems so much in alignment. Life, with all of its wonders and terrors, is a thing to be lived after all!


  • Francesca De Grandis
    Francesca De Grandis Thursday, 04 September 2014

    Indeed, indeed!

  • Archer
    Archer Tuesday, 23 September 2014

    I appreciate the insight that animals have something of the divine in them--consider how they survive, thrive, communicate and migrate mysteriously--all without the props of daily life we seem to need (extensive equipments, devices, etc). Thanks for this loving memorial and reminder.

  • Gwion Raven
    Gwion Raven Tuesday, 23 September 2014

    Thank you Archer - As an update, Bear Claw's ashes are now on our Beloved Dead altar. Seems that there's more for us to do with our loving cat.

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