There have been many cats who have found their way into the dreams and stories of man, but no one more so then the Cheshire Cat from the Adventures of Alice in Wonderland[i].
I’ve always wondered when Lewis Carroll looked into the looking glass and saw the topologies of the world in their adventures together, if he saw himself as the Cheshire Cat, the Mad Hatter, or the White Rabbit.
The first two are obvious as he was a little cattie and certainly mad at times, but the White Rabbit was always preening the thought that he was late for a very important date.
In all of my conversations with Chesi; as I call the Cheshire Cat by his nickname, I found that Mr. Carroll had gifted his world to Alice with so much of himself, that he went a little mad in the calculations of his life, or so it seemed to me.
At dinner today, Chesi took me aside before the evening’s preparations and asked for a favor. “Give me a couple of minutes after dinner to speak; but before the after dinner conversations” he asked.
The after dinner conversations and debates are what our parties are famous for and although I thought his request unusual; as we are an informal lot, he seemed nervous of something and Alice was waiting, so I let it be at the time.
Today’s party was a reunion of sorts, for many of our ilk have not been able to attend the last few years; this, due much to the goings on of so many of the world’s cultures and the human problems that never seem to be solved.
The diverse worlds that make up the essence of who we are, defines our reality and our existence by their dreams and thoughts of who they think we could be. The milk of human kindness has soured of late towards us, and it is one reason so many of us are here today.
We and the other cats of legends old and new, have tried to have a reunion once every year or so, but it has been three years since the last one, or at least a meeting where there was a coming together of so many of us in one place.
Edgar[ii] who played the part of the “Black Cat” in Edgar Allen Poe’s stories, is a dark creature, much more wild then funny it seems at times, but he feels that we should erase the humans from our minds. Of course it is no wonder his thoughts are so skewed, as he is visited and bombarded with the ongoing consciousness, of the mind that created him so many years ago.
My best friend Cujo[iii]; who could not be here today; to the relief of so many who were not as feline challenged as he is, has something of the same problem. His creator, and ongoing mentor Stephen King who has such a bright and diverse mind, but yet with a creative darkness that is unexpected and unpredictable at times. It causes Cujo to be something of a nervous wreck the majority of the time.
One moment he acts like the St. Bernard’s of old, helping to find climbers in frigid and wonderfully beautiful mountains, and the next, he’s a shaking shivering puppy, as Mr. Kings thoughts of horror and mayhem invade his mind.
It is the sad truth that we cannot always separate our minds from those that created us, nor they ours. Even if we could do as Edgar the Black Cat suggests, it would destroy us, as it would destroy our creators. For we each are the dichotomy of Damocles[iv] sword, two edges distinct and different; but yet of the same metal.
We each create the other in the thoughts and dreams of the places our souls call home. It is expected that just like Cujo, Edgar the Black Cat could no more separate himself from his creator’s thoughts, then Cujo could from his water dish, during those rabid moments of thirst that drive him to distraction at times.
Edgar the Black Cat has a good heart, but he is of course what you expect from someone who is surrounded by dark thoughts so much of the time. Even his birthmark, a white crest in the shape of hanging gallows upon his chest, is the mark of the beast for those who see it, for they do not have long to live.
He doesn’t know that his appearance causes their deaths, or expresses innocently what is to happen, but it is Nature’s Scythe that never rests that is quiet on the subject of cause and the guilt that drives us to the same fate.
It isn’t any wonder that when they see so much of death, that after a while it becomes the way they think. There was much arguing about his suggestion, but as we are still here you can see the action of his idea was for naught.
Bastet[v], the Queen Goddess of those like us in one world or another, took a while to bring the meeting to order. She’s been around long before even the Egyptians who worshiped her such a long time ago.
She changes shape according to the whims and beliefs of those around her, but tends to enjoy the look of the imperial lioness. The form and flow from darkest Africa, the collective wish-song of early man bringing to us our queen.
Today she was constantly changing form with the pressure of so many adjacent souls nearby. It is disconcerting to sometimes not know to whom you are actually talking to. At one moment she was an ancient cat with white fur, at other times she was half cat with the upper body of a beautiful woman.
It was my favorite of course, as I always enjoy those images that bring forth my most amorous thoughts and those of my favorite drink. Sex and hunger, all driven by the observation of the same thing for a male cat in human guise, it is a mixed blessing; but one most males, cat or human enjoy.
Today she seemed to find comfort in the feline grace of the strongest of us, the Freyja[vi]. Except for the Cheshire Cat when he chooses to change his size with Alice, they are the largest of our feline kind. Fierce nomadic cats conquered; but still willful, as they pull the great chariot of the Norse God’s of legend.
The only cat I knew of at the time that Bastet did not mimic was me. I think it had something to do with what she said was the revolting costumes I wore. She constantly asked how I could walk on two feet much of my time with those, as she called them….”Ugly brown boots, more suited to stepping on a cat’s tale then for walking around them”.
Admittedly when I sit in my rocking chair, there is the tendency to rock to hard and hear the squeal of one or more of my friends caught out of sync behind me; leaping high into the air as their tales are sometimes pinched by the Arc of my Covenant; my favorite chair, that is of course my one great vice.
It is the place I sit and think so much of the time, the place I like most on hot sunny days, a place just to curl up and fall asleep as the day moves by without me.
We have a full house and I have been working so hard, but no harder than the source of our needs. The Cow that was renowned for jumping over the moon, has chosen to take a vacation and give her efforts to our party.
She had once been owned by Apollo, but gained her freedom when Hermes stole her and her friends, the act of doing so giving her the shared fleetness of foot, that Hermes was so famous for.
Her friends and neighbors did not survive the culling; but she does in her flights of fancy, fly around the moon once each year in their memory. As the God’s power has waned in the new age of reason, she has finally been left alone to travel to wherever her thoughts can carry her.
Collecting enough Milk and cream to go around for our refreshments took some time; but I had others helping set up the banquet. Willie Wonka, opened his factory to make the large vats of sweet cream and Tuna flavored ice cream, that have become a delicacy amongst us. Ben and Jerry’s has not seen fit to see the wisdom of fish flavored ice cream yet, but we all have our taste, as well as our hopes they will see the light.
The Mad Hatter and the White Rabbit both have Mr. Carroll’s knack for numbers and meeting deadlines, so setting up the seating charts, the timing of reservations and all of the assorted details of bringing together several hundred humans, cats and other mythical figures is in good hands, claws, paws or what have you.
To set the tables at the banquet we have my old nemesis. The Ogre volunteered to cook and clean along with some of his friends. Captain Jack Sparrow was tasked with finding the wine and other drinks; but the Ogre was warned to count the silver ware and check frequently for the loss or gain of inebriation, by our off times callous friend and Jack of all trades. Certainly no pun is intended, but it does capture the thought.
The Ogre is something of an antipathy for many of us, as his favorite meal for years had been of our kind, but they call me the Master Cat[vii] and as I now call many rats, friends these days; so to, do we all have to leave such shallow thoughts behind us at times.
It is a case of making the best of a bad thing, for once an Ogre has been bested, you cannot get rid of him no matter how hard you try, you just suffer through there insufferable presence at every turn.
Of course we watched quietly many times as they moved through the house and along the banquet tables. They serve with surprising delicacy for such a large beast; but it is a watchful eye of many lives lost, that we await their return to the kitchen and take a head count to make sure dinner is what it is suppose too be.
Being the Master Cat, I am also the head of ceremonies. Bastet the Queen of us all and her newest male Eunuch she used as a servant, sat in a place of honor off to the side, next to the windows that look out over the lake. The sun shines in quietly and diffuses; reflecting the warm glow so that you want to sleep, or just felt the need to curl up and enjoy the warmth.
The Cheshire Cat sat directly to my left, or floated or disappeared such as was his whim. Alice his date for the night; had to keep giving him a stern look, to keep him in our world at all.
Alice of course everyone knows, the beautiful light of the Cheshire’s life. There were others, including myself I’m sorry to say at times, that wished we had volunteered to be the Cat gifted to be Alice’s friend.
Jealousy is a terrible weight for those of us with many lives. To carry such weight so early in my first of nine, well, it bids poorly for the karmic density and nature of my life to come.
Alice is the sweetest thing next to Cream, the nicest of the humans we have come to know over the years. I have many friends, many more acquaintances; but not a true love that would take my heart and hold it in peace for all eternity, as even a cat with eight more lives still finds life to short.
Such is the world of Alice left to her own thoughts and mine; for she is in love with the Cheshire Cat, the one she calls her best friend, but certainly we all see the signs of love.
To my right, not because I like them of course; sat LaFontaine’s[viii] Cat “Cat’s Paw” and his friend/enemy, the monkey they call Chestnut, for obvious reasons if you’ve read the story. We had to seat them so as to keep them away from the fireplace and also in a place where they can be monitored frequently. They are constantly seeking to relive old hurts and old competitions; but for whatever reasons, they will not allow themselves to be separated from one other.
It is curious that the friendship and love that keeps a couple together, can in some ways; when it is lost, keep them dependent and tortured with each other as well.
It seems that when love bonds a soul together, even when on the surface it is lost, it can never be removed completely from the fabric of what they once had.
I believe that those who become enemies through hate, or sociopathic competition, become locked into a circle of co-dependence; that left to simmer, will never fade from our minds.
I always wondered what possessed one of our kind, to step into one of the human’s stories with a monkey, where roasting each other’s chestnuts in an open fire, is the bane of their existence, but I think I understand it now.
We were all friends and enemies at one time or another, something forced on us at the whims of each human’s collective conflicts. They’ve always been a curious race, so violent at times, so loving at others.
They create us in their image of the world, but have little care that those things they create, are never things to sit still and be what they were intended to be.
Like all things the humans create, we the mythical expressions of their belief in a false world, call Gaia into form; a form that takes many natures, many thoughts and always someone’s dream to destroy her.
I digress once again into one of my many diatribes Eliot, so to continue; further along the table sat Adage[ix], formally of the court of Lady Macbeth. She has already used up her first of three lives lost, of the nine allotted. So quickly so, that in fear she is slow to join in any game or story that could cause her to lose another one to soon.
She lost the first two in the regicide and suicide of Lady Macbeth. I always wondered whether it was Shakespeare telling the story, or Sir Francis Bacon pulling tales from the histories he read.
As the nobleman that was killed; at the whim of Lady Macbeth, was from Scotland, we had to arrange the seating chart so that Cait Sihe[x] aka, Edgar the Black Cat; who was also from Scotland, could be seated further away, so that the hard feelings he still had did not use up another of Adage’s life.
No one truly believes that Edgar the Black Cat causes death by being around him, but as insurance was created to remind us that we don’t always have the luck of our thoughts, so too do we all veer a little out of his path when he is in a dark moment.
Then we had Patripatan[xi] from South East Asia, Dick Whittington’s[xii] Cat who is known for his great ability of ratting; almost to my level of skill. I still consider having won the competition, for I know of no other cat that has ever eaten an ogre who has taken the shape of a rat.
Something as you well know dear Eliot that I am still famous for as Puss-n-boots aka the Master Cat. I know it is a sin to brag, but I still enjoy the thought of that meal, even more so, each time an Ogre passes by me with the deference I attribute to my success.
It did add some irony to the nature of our cooks and servants being ogres and serving us a dish still warm. The nature of vengeance is best served flaming hot to my mind, instead of cold and dead. Any prey will taste so much better while still warm, ask any other cat you feel a need to.
The Cat’s of Aesop[xiii] had their own table, the tortoise and the scorpion were always up in arms with each other, and Aesop’s toga was always getting stepped on, so it was best to put them off in the corner.
I think the Tortoise was having trouble coming out of his shell; so to speak, as every time the Ogre came out of Hell’s Kitchen, the door smacked him in the soft part of his back. The Tortoise noted to me later, that he noticed a distinct salivary response on the Ogre’s part, as they went by his table much too often.
Mackie Boots[xiv] forwarded us an email at the last minute not being able to attend, as the Virginia Military Institute was graduating a new group of seniors and he was in charge of the ceremonies. He mentioned in his note, that he would miss dinner, but hoped to arrive for the after dinner debates he loves so much.
There was suddenly a lion’s snarl, as the Queen called dinner to order for the first toast and the beginning of the meal. She looked over toward Maneki Neko[xv], some called her the Lucky Cat or Welcoming Cat. She looked more like Garfield, but Garfield had a new screenplay proposal with his agent, something about finding the motivations of Lasagna, so I don’t expect him either.
Now that dinner has started I must send this off to you Dear Eliot[xvi]. Your book of poems, “Old Possums Book of Practical Cats: is of course my favorite so far. Hope to see you at our next gathering.
Sincerely, your friend
Puss-n-Boots : 0 )
I was writing this in my journal and had planned to email you later about the party, but the couple of moments given to the Cheshire Cat was of such news, that I felt a need to send this off to you right away.
It turns out that the Cheshire Cat has decided to move back up the Rabbit Hole with Alice after the Banquet is over. Alice longs to return to her life for a bit to be with her family and he feels that his life is with her.
You know this means the end of his powers, so this may be the last time you can talk with him for some time, as her world is locked within a world of reason, that has lost its ability to believe in such creatures as we. They lose themselves Eliot and I worry that our friend may lose himself as well, at least in this, his third life to live, so be safe and well.
[i] The writing’s of Lewis Carroll
[ii] The Black cat in Edgar Allen Poe’s short story, a study of the psychology of guilt and death.
[iii] Stephan Kings Novel Cujo
[iv] There are a number of interpretations to the Sword of Damocles; but most agree that at least one interpretation is a metaphor for a sense of foreboding that exist in the challenges of life, that leaders have it hanging over their heads just as those they lead . That concept where good cannot exist without bad, that the sword hangs over us all while in peace, and to be used in a time of war.
[v] Bast (or Bastet), Egyptian goddess with the head of a cat; see also Sekhmet, Bast’s guise as the goddess of felines
[vi] Horse sized winged cats there were known in Norse Mythology to pull the Chariots of the Gods
[vii] Folk lore where Puss-n-boots of children’s tales is also called “Master Cat”
[viii] Reference the short story “Monkey and the Cat” by the French Poet Jean de La Fontaine.
[ix] Cat described in Shakespeare’s Lady Macbeth
[x] Fairy Creature of Celtic Mythology
[xi] Patripatan – the cat that climbed into the sky to praise its master to the gods of South-East Asisn and Indian mythology.
[xii] English folklore – a merchant becomes wealthy due to the ratting capabilities of his cat.
[xiii] Aesop’s Fables
[xiv] A fictional student cat from Virginia Military Institute.
[xv] Ceramic Japanese cat reputed to bring good luck, or welcoming cat for happy life.
[xvi] T.S. Eliot – Wrote a book of poems, “Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats.