Pagan Blog Project Letter A
(After writing this, I grasp that it may have fit better under “C” but I just joined the project today, so “A” it is.)
Any animals I have become associated with over time have always been associated with the deities I work with. Peacocks for Oshun, Honeybees for everyone, Vultures for Oshun, Deer for Freyr.
The Big Cats, though, those are all mine. Perhaps it’s a Freyja thing, but it was a thing before Freyja, so I suspect even if I was an Atheist, it would still be a thing. I adore cats, big and small. Matter of fact, one of the reasons I adore house cats is because they *look* just like their wild kin. (Also, I’m not a dog person, but I’d only ever consider owning a dog that looked like it was a wolf descendant, corgis and daschunds don’t work for me.)
When I was a child, I so very desperately wanted a cat. I wanted one so bad, that when I finally got Beverly the local black cat, probably feral, though I didn’t know it then, to sit on my lap I winced through the pain I felt as she kneaded my thighs bloody-just so she wouldn’t leave.
My mom was shocked when I wouldn’t get in the bath that evening, I loved baths. When she saw my thighs, she was horrified. She berated me. But I knew, I would let Beverly do it again, she was so soft and her hair was so black and shiny. I loved her.
I had to satisfy myself with the cats of others for another nine years. I didn’t know it then, but the reason my dad wouldn’t let me have a cat was because he’d watched his foster person beat one to death for pooping in the garden. The guy actually called my dad over to see. He’d “hated” cats ever since, though he’d admired their elegance and beauty and watched documentaries on them.
I almost got a cat at 11 when I found one in our driveway, very close to Christmas. It had been abandoned by its mom, I suppose, and it was about 3 weeks old. I remember that they would put it down. I remember how her little claws stuck in my palms when they took her from me. I remember how I wept and didn’t care about Christmas gifts at all.
When I was 14, my dad went to a party where there was an aging Persian. He came home and told me I could have a cat. Soon a neighbor’s cat had kittens, Persian and Siamese. I had one named Liberty. My parents, either too poor or unaware, didn’t vaccinate him properly, and he died when I was scarcely out of high school of Feline Leukemia.
I Was Devastated. I nearly failed my finals.
Once in a time before I knew better, I was at Marine World Africa USA (I’m very sorry!) and I pet the baby tigers (I’m not sorry at all, that I had this experience!)
Big cats, however, have always acted strangely around me, according to experts. Tatania, the Tiger that was shot at the San Francisco Zoo was almost a friend of mine. I lived quite close and became a member, I visited her several times a week. One day she was in a holding cage, they were cleaning her pen, and she came as close to me as she could and she roared. I was told by a nearby zoo person, that she’d never witnessed that before.
I remember that moment. Her roar crept into my spine and vibrated there. Some part of me was deathly frightened, the hair on my arms stood still. I remembered seeing a tiger hunt a monkey on the Discovery Channel. The monkey never even knew it was coming. No fear registered on its face or in its body language. This was a blessing for the poor creature. The tiger has that much prowess.
She was unfortunately killed after idiots broke into her area on Christmas, and harassed her. She mauled one of them to death. Unfortunately, if I recall correctly, the other man lived.
RIP Tatania (This may answer a friend’s question as to why I feel nothing near Christmas).
Once, at a vacant park in the South, I forget if it was DC or MD, two leopards, one black, one with traditional yellow and black markings (perhaps this makes one a puma) mounted each other and had sex.
I was informed by a nearby janitor that I “must have some Mojo” because they traditionally mate after dark.
Again at the SF ZOO, with a friend, I was watching the new baby lions through a glass. I stood, a bit shorter than the female lion that came up to the glass, stood on her hind legs and pawed at the glass. I called the zoo the next day and I was assured that that was rare. The woman asked if the cat had its claws out, if it was it roaring- I replied, that it didn’t seem aggressive.
“It wanted to play with you, then.” She told me. We laughed. Otherwise, she said, the lion seemed shy of most humans, including handlers.
In June of last year, in a campsite at Tehachapi, I saw a Mountain Lion. I told no one I was camping with. It was merely retreating, high in the woods, above the campsite. I remember, earlier, jokingly mentioning to camp staff, that if I was found mauled by a wild animal, they should not hunt the animal down and kill it. I was probably just incredibly stupid and inappropriate.
And it’s true, see below.
More recently, I was at “Wildlife Images” in OR. We were on a tour, I was supposed to stay with the tour. But, you see there was a Mountain Lion. I was surprised that he purred, and meowed. He’d been taken from his den as a baby when his mother was out hunting. The people who took him thought he’d make an awesome pet. They were incorrect.
So I was on a tour, and we were supposed to stay together. This is a wilderness positive place, they try to keep the animals as wild as possible. No one, not the volunteers, not the employees, approaches these cats face to face. When feeding this cat, in particular, they use a series of doors and levers, no one is alone with Clark, ever.
They often wear costumes and masks, to avoid the animals getting too intrigued by humans.
Clark was just so magnificent. (I sat on the ground in the freezing cold) and fell behind the tour, which had gone to see the wolves. Clark came to the fence, and I placed my hand flat (I’m not an idiot) against it. Clark sniffed, Clark purred, Clark meowed and rolled over.
I loved Clark. I loved his eyes. the color of him, his elegance and his serpentine tail.
Oh how I adored him!
And then, to not entirely be found out or miss the wolves, I ran to catch up.
Mountain Lions go by many names, Jaguar, Cougar, Puma, Panther, and a few others, depending on where they are located. They represent leadership and strength, grace and decisiveness. (Leadership is odd, they’re solitary animals…who would they lead?)
I am uncomfortable with these things, and so these cats truly challenge me to rise above my own limitations, and to break boundaries (or build them) when needed.
Wildlife Images Park in OR
College Thesis on Freyja and Her Cats