Posted in Culture, Marmoset, sociology

Superstition Part II – Black Cats

Charles Piscitello Ed.D

Happy Black Cat Day!  According to

Cats in ancient Egypt were revered highly, partly due to their ability to combat vermin such as mice, rats. Cats of royalty were known to be dressed in golden jewelry and were allowed to eat right off their owners’ plates. The goddess of warfare was a woman with the head of a cat named Bastet.


Alternatively in American Culture, it is bad luck if a black cat crosses your path.  Around Halloween time we see cartoon witches usually accompanied by their trusty black cat.  So the superstition behind the black cat isn’t entirely alien to us in America.

I began to wonder about the superstition surrounding our furry little friends a four years ago, when my sister was kind enough to host my first child’s baby shower.  Sicilians love gatherings because it gives black-catthem the opportunity to make cookies, and they love making cookies.  My sister, also loves pets, including her two black cats.

One lady refused to attend the baby shower because she heard that my sister indeed owned a couple black cats.  The lady refused even when she was ensured that the cats would be in cages in another room.

So, why are cats at the very least viewed as bad luck if they cross your path or even highly taboo for some people? lists a couple reasons why Italians would fear black cats, here are a few:

At one time the Catholic Church considered cats to be witches’ familiars or
transformed witches, always up to no good.

This is consistent with the Italian witch superstition  illustrated in Italian Superstition Part I – Toccare le palle, since witches had the power to curse a family with the “evil eye,” which rendered the males sterile.  Furthermore, the article states:

During the Middle Ages there was a flurry of superstition and cats were hung from trees and immediately killed on sight because they were suspected of being witches or witches’ familiars. This ultimately was a primary cause of the wide spread of the Black Death or Bubonic Plague in Europe because the rodent population boomed due to the natural predators of the rodents having been killed.

And specifically:

In Italy long ago if a black cat lay upon the bed of a sick person it meant that person would die.

According to which stated that in the middle ages anyone who saw a cat cross their path would

threw rocks at the furry feline until the helpless injured creature scurried out into a woman’s house, who at the time was suspected of being a witch


The belief of witches transforming themselves into black cats in order to prowl streets unobserved became a central belief in America during the Salem witch hunts. Even today the association of black cats and witches holds strong during Halloween celebrations, despite the holiday’s religious beginnings.  Thus, an animal once looked on with approbation became a symbol of evil omens in some parts of the World.

So an association with death, illness, and witches (sterility) created the superstition with many ethnic groups which brought the superstition here to the states.

It is always interesting to see the origins of superstition, we can see a link between word events, religion, values, and culture through how people perceived what is good or evil, lucky and unlucky.

Posted in Culture, education, Marmoset, sociology

Cyber Hybrid Culture Ground Rules

Charles Piscitello Ed.D

After writing my first post about the cyber hybrid culture – all hell broke loose on Facebook as it usually does.  A close friend posted a sensitive political topic about something one of the candidates “said.”  People replied with angry polarizing political posts which triggered more angry polarizing responses, and a Facebook war ensued.

I was easily sucked – posting a derogatory comment about one of the political parties “Sucking at life” because their politics was anti-life.

This triggered a young man who I don’t know personally in the face-to-face world spending the rest of the day attacking my comment (and me).  Other people began attacking him and so on.  This of course translated to people discussing these online interactions in the real face-to-face world.  Most of the people who approached me told me that they enjoyed my comments, thought they were funny, and “wanted to give me a hug for speaking up.”  But I’m sure there were many other people who avoided me because of those same comments.

In reflecting with another groups of online students through their online discussion forum, I decided that social media does not have a set of etiquette ground rules or a “netiquette” policy as it is commonly referred to in distance education.  So with that, I decided to brainstorm a set of social media ground rules:

a.) Avoid trolling, don’t start trouble because not all people know you, your personality, or sense of humor.

b.) Don’t answer attacks with anger, just present logical points or refuse to answer.

c.) Unfollow people you don’t want to see, unfreind people who are not your friends, and block people who are nasty to you.

d.) Use social media to share, network, and interact – avoid the rest of the junk.

I’m sure that much can be added to this list, but it’s a nice start in my pursuit in bridging the gab between our face-to-face world and our cyber world.  Many of these social media wars create real life social divisions in business, schools, church, and anywhere else people congregate.  It is important to understand that these worlds are connected and we must act accordingly.