Spirit Guides: The Cat
by Sarah Robinson
People have sought to bring animals into their magical practice and superstitions throughout the ages. We may use them as inspiration or to seek strength, we may want to call an animal to us or reflect on an animal’s presence. While some may have animal companions for life, other animals may fly into your life just long enough to deliver a message. They may teach us something about our ability and strength or something that we need to pay attention to. Animals can walk alongside us as teachers, messengers and guides, helping us to understand better the world in which we live.
The Cat as a Symbol
The cat is representative of intuition and heart. Cats have strong magical associations, and are connected with powerful and wise goddesses like Bastet and Freya, as well as being eternally linked to witches!
The Cat in Yoga
Cats are a little rarer in Hindu stories. However, the kind goddess Shashthi, protectress of children, is often portrayed riding a cat or with a cat face, a little nod perhaps to the playful nature of cats (and children!)
Cat Pose (Marjaryasana)
The gentle flex of Cat pose starts with a flat back, kneeling on all fours. From here, flex the spine outwards with rounded spine, dropping the head and tailbone to point earthwards. We resemble the shape of a cat with an arched spine, what you might call a ‘Halloween cat’ shape.
Lion Pose (Simhasana)
Lion Pose assumes the sitting position and facial expression of a lion. From the Sanskrit word for lion, Simha, this pose evokes the energy and roar of this powerful animal. The pose combines both asana (physical posture) and pranayama (breathwork) to produce a deep roaring exhalation during the peak of Lion Pose. It’s also a great pose to release anger and have a bit of a giggle! (I defy anyone to do this pose without ending up smiling!)
From an easy cross-legged seat or sitting back on the heels, place your hands on your knees. As you exhale deeply, spread your paws (fingers) wide, open your mouth wide, stick your tongue out and gaze to the sky. The exhale should be audible as you roar. On the inhale, bring your face back to neutral, relaxing the neck, chest, and hands. Roar and repeat!
The Cat as a Goddess
In Egyptian Mythology Bastet is the cat goddess of wisdom, independence and strength. She carries with her the energy of balance and protection. Graceful, independent, playful, and intuitive, Bastet casts a watchful eye over the world, seeking justice and equality. Bastet is a rarity in being the goddess of both moon and sun; in this way, she represents yin and yang and is a great reminder to seek balance. She is a wonderful goddess to work with when you are seeking a rebalancing of power or reclaiming of your own power.
About the author
Sarah Robinson is a Yoga Witch from Bath, UK. Sarah’s book Yoga for Witches (Womancraft Publishing) inspired some of the ideas included in this article (there is a whole chapter on Animal Magic!) Her next magical book – title to be announced soon – will be published October 31st, available from Womancraft Publishing, Amazon and Waterstones.