La Strega e il suo cane familiare
Are you a dog person? Are you a cat person? You are quite different people who have an important characteristic in common, the symbolic externalization of the soul.
But let’s go with order. Both the dog and the cat are animals related to the Moon, but in a different way.
In primitive human ecology, the wolf, later to become a dog, was used to defend groups of men during the night, in exchange for the remains of food that were left to them in the camps. The dog is tied to the Moon by inheritance of blood: the domestic dog carries within it the lunar forces of the ancient wolf ancestor. According to shamanic tradition, the wolf howls at the moon to thank it for illuminating the night. The wolf sees through the dark, finds the way thanks to the light reflected from the Moon (female planet) to penetrate into the woods where hunting in a pack. His progress through the night, which is also based on smell, also allows him to be a totemic animal, or an animal on which it is possible to meditate to find the way into the darkness within ourselves, or the unconscious. Despite this (or perhaps by inversion) the dog is a predominantly diurnal animal, having adapted to the life of man: in this way its symbolic values move more and more towards solar characteristics.
The negative side of the symbolism of the wolf (and therefore of the dog) is that of its demonization in instinctive power totally out of control, so much so that the human being regresses to a semi-human state: this is the process that intervenes in the legendary figure of the werewolf. A werewolf is a human being who gets rid of an overly heavy civilized and moralistic super-ego to give vent to the darkest instincts. Feran and feral sensuality are mixed in the werewolf, which invade and eclipse the compassion and love of the human being. The silver bullet, fatal to the wolf man of subsequent fictional narratives, is obviously linked to the Moon: silver, as a lunar metal, can welcome the forces of the Christ of the Sun through blessing, thus reversing the perverse lunarity of the wolf werewolf (the like dissolves the like).
Primarily the dog, like the wolf, is symbolically exalted (and therefore assumes a positive role, translating the astrological jargon) when male. The she-wolf and the bitch, on the other hand, are symbolically fallen (with some exceptions, for example the she-wolf who raised Romulus and Remus).
The cat, on the other hand, is linked to the Moon by female means. In ancient Egypt the goddess Bastet passes from a solar deity represented by a lioness (the lion is the solar animal par excellence, which brings the forces of the heart and of individuality) to a lunar deity by replacing the lioness with the cat. In this way Bastet became the Egyptian equivalent of the Greek goddess Artemis / Diana (in turn linked to the duplicity of her male counterpart, Diano or Giano), goddess of the moon and of hunting. The cat’s original role was to hunt mice and other small pests in any enclosed and inhabited place (houses, ships, temples). Sekhmet, the lioness goddess, was associated with Bastet and identified with her, only to divide a feminine solar symbolism into the former and a feminine lunar the latter.
The cat is definitely more nocturnal than the dog, its enormous eyes, its ears pointed towards each other and its crushed snout, not only contribute to making it more anthropomorphic, but indicate a frontal reception of all the senses perceived with the head : sight, hearing, smell, taste, and even touch thanks to vibrissae. The senses developed contribute to its agility and elegance, also interpreted as lasciviousness: the cat, especially black, has therefore become the familiar of witches par excellence. Not only could he be the ideal companion of these brides of the night, but also one of their favorite forms of transfiguration. In the Celtic traditions it brings good luck, in the more late-medieval ones, bad luck. The tradition according to which he has seven or nine lives (two magic numbers, seven concerns vices and virtues, nine the composition of subtle bodies) contributes to make him akin to the dark forces that return and find ways to survive.
The cat, in opposition to the dog, is symbolically exalted when female: hence also all its popular declinations.
The Witch and her Cat Familiar Spirit
From these characteristics it results that the dog is more akin to extroversion, while the cat is introverted. Premise: extroversion means that the observing subject finds its object of observation in the external world, and from this it draws energy, vice versa it loses energy in the relationship with the internal world. Inversion means that the observing subject finds its object of observation in the internal world, from which it draws energy while losing it in the relationship with the external world.
Extraversion in the dog is mainly due to his need to go outside in the company of his master. The dog goes outside. The behavior of the dog is gregarious, it binds to the master in such a way that it replaces all his primary needs: the master brings together the characteristics of the alpha couple of the ancestor wolf, so that in a healthy relationship with the dog, it is always beta compared to the master. In this way the extrovert, which tends not to establish a solid relationship with its interiority, finds an element of constant confrontation outside itself, from which to draw energy. Its original nomadic nature is noted in the relationship with food: the dog’s inexhaustible greed (symbolically, the three open mouths of Cerberus) derives from its food opportunism, the herd shares the food that, as soon as available, must be consumed. Begins food from its owner. His doing refers to the dependence that the master interprets as loyalty.
Introversion in the cat is due to its silent exploration of the environment, especially at night (symbol of the unconscious). It is predominantly solitary or meets with other cats without interacting (apparently), it binds more to the place it knows in its smallest details and seems to choose its chosen friendships not only with its peers but even with human beings. The relationship with food is detached, the cat eats as much as it needs to satiate itself and no more, it does not beg for food and is finicky. His doing therefore refers to a confidentiality that the master interprets as independence. The cat cannot be kept on a leash or even carried out, it is the cat that follows or not the master: this also helps to hide the cat in the eyes of those who are not the masters, making its figure hidden, “hidden” and therefore, interior. Thus the cat’s point of reference is the house, its interior, as is the unconscious for the introvert.
With respect to the masculine-feminine polarity, we can associate these two domestic mammals with Mars and Venus. The cat has a female appearance, with all its fluid and sinuous movement, its propensity for enclosed spaces and darkness. However, its elusiveness (= introversion) is certainly masculine. The dog instead has a stiffer appearance than the cat, with a well-defined musculature and a skeleton that supports it well. But his interior life is all about social communication, the encounter in the external world (= extraversion). The cat therefore possesses an exteriority that recalls Venus, and in interiority Mars. The dog instead calls Mars outwardly and Venus inwardly.
As for the relationship with man and his interiority, an extrovert will therefore have more affinity with the dog, an introvert with the cat: obviously forming doubly extroverted or introverted couples, the relationship established between subject (the master) and object of affection (the dog or cat) will be symbiotic. Conversely, an extrovert can find a good complementary relationship in a cat, and the introvert in the dog, in which the relationship between master and pet will soften the extremes.
The (satisfied) owners of domestic animals are however united by the symbolic externalisation of the soul: this means making objective the way in which one relates (or does not relate to) other people through an object of affection, the dog or cat. To hear “I have a dog” or “I have a cat”, or even more “I like dogs”, “I prefer cats” arouses a very different effect: the listener immediately gets an impression of that person because he will associate it more to extroversion or more to introversion. This “animal soul” is therefore a second nature, an affirmation of identity. This is the same role that the families of esoteric traditions assume, the animals that lead in totemic ones (Group Souls of animals and plants) and the daimon of these Dark Materials. The pet is therefore an active means of maintaining contact between the inner world (microcosm) and the external world (macrocosm), albeit in different ways.