HONOLULU (KHON2) — Superstitions. They tend to keep us in line with what cultures need to continue to thrive.
Take for instance the no open umbrellas inside superstition. Does having an open umbrella inside really bring bad luck?
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Depends on how you look at it.
Bringing overall bad luck is probably not viable. But bad luck in the moment is possible since any number of injuries can occur is someone is wielding an open umbrella inside.
One superstition that has led to some bloodshed is the belief that black cats bring bad luck.
Historians and scientists have been unable to lockdown a time period that definitively indicates the domestication of felines.
We do know that the ancient Egyptians worshipped cats, but we do not know if there were other more ancient civilizations that did the same and/or inspired ancient Egyptians to do so.
What we do know is that cats were sacred and they did a big role in keeping Egyptian agriculture thriving. It was this advantage that led the Roman Empire to spread cats across the kingdom.
This is how domesticated cats made their way en masse to Europe.
When the witch trials began in the 13th century, this is when cats, black cats in particular, became a target.
The Papal Bull from Pope Gregory IX has long been believed to be a source of superstition for the masses. Although this document was not released to the people, it has non-the-less been linked to much of the murder and torture that cats experienced for several hundred years.
The witch trials that spread across the British Empire, the British Colonies and Europe set the world ablaze. Targeting millions of women, girls and some men/boys, the trials extirpated a great deal of knowledge from amongst these villages, placing is squarely in the hands of the ruling elites of the time.
So, as all these ideas swirled, the creation of the myth that black cats are bad luck somehow came to fruition.
Much of this fear was stoked by the Church of the time as they were on a mission to eradicate independent women. And the independent cat became an easy target.
The National Library of Medicine published a study by Robert M. Carini, Jennifer Sinski and Jonetta D. Weber that showed that black cats do not suffer inequitable treatment or adoption, which flies in the face of many who believe that black cats do not get adopted.
To sum up the information, black cats have had a rough go over the last 700 years or so. Used as a mascot for evils the Catholic Church wanted to eradicate has led black cats to be both murdered and tortured.
But it is the people who choose to follow these ideas who are the ones that made the lives of these cats deadly. So, should be blame the Pope who instigated the idea or the people who fell for it?
In Hawaiʻi, sharing a life with a black cat is actually quite popular.
“Here at the Hawaiian Humane Society, we do not believe or cater to archaic and outdated superstitions, said Brandy Shimabukuro.
The HHS takes the care of black cats very seriously, especially since there are lots of places where people succumb to the superstitions.
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“Sadly, black cats often languish in shelters nationwide and take longer to be adopted than other cats due to no fault of their own,” add Shimabukuro. “Unfounded misconceptions and superstitions cast a shadow on these wonderful little house panthers. We believe it’s time to shed light on the truth! Black cats are just as deserving of love as any other cat.”