Monday, March 31, 2008

Chocolate Hazelnut Biscotti


2 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (I like to replace 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup whole wheat flour for the all purpose)
1/4 cup dutch-processed cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar, 1 tsp granulated sugar for glaze (I used 1 cup and it's the right sweetness for me)
1 tsp kosher salt
1 1/2 cups(about 8 ounces) blanched hazelnuts
12 oz semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chunk(I like to use one pack of 3.5oz 72% Lindt and make up the rest with Nestle Tollhouse Chocolate chips)
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 eggwhite for glaze (optional), at room temperature
Sanding sugar (or granulated)for sprinkling (optional)


Preheat oven to 350F.Line two large baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.

In a food processor, pulse the flour, cocoa,baking soda,salt, 1 cup of chocolate chunks and hazelnut, until chocolate chunks and hazelnuts are the size of peas. *if you don't have a food processor, coarsely chop the nuts and chocolate and sieve the flour.

In a bowl of electric mixer fitted with whisk attachment, beat the whole eggs, and granulated sugar until the mixture holds a ribbon-like trail on the surface for a few seconds when you raise the whisk.

Switch to the paddle attachment. With mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture. When it's well combined, add in the nuts and chocolate and stir by hand, using a large spatula.

Turn out dough onto a lightly floured work surface, and divide into 3 equal pieces. Shape each pieces into an 18 inch log. Transfer to prepared baking sheet. With the palm of your hand, gently press the logs to flatten slighlt. Brush egg wash over logs. Sprinkle with sanding sugar if using.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Christmas Trivia

Candy Canes are modeled after a shepard's crook.
The Grinch from Dr. Seuss' book "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" had a dog named Max.
The Star of Bethlehem led the Wise Men to baby Jesus.
Scrooge's dead partner from "A Christmas Carol" was named Jacob Marley.
It was an old silk hat that brought Frosty to life.
Charles Dickens penned "A Christmas Carol".
The poem "The Night Before Christmas" was originally called "A Visit from Saint Nicholas"
Electric Christmas lights were first used in 1895.
At Christmas, it is customary to exchange kisses under a sprig of mistletoe.
Poinsettias originally came from Mexico.
The 12 days of Christmas were December 26 to January 6.
Every snowflake has exactly six sides.

Random Facts Sunday

The World's first animated car ad was created by Dr. Seuss for the Ford Motor Company. Prune Juice is the sixth most popular juice in the United States. Every time you take a step you use 200 muscles. Tsunamis can travel as fast or faster than jet planes. More Americans die in January than in any other month. A bee has 5,000 nostrils. Bees can smell apples from up to 2 miles away. Say this 3 times fast: Geschwindigkeitsbegrenzung is German for "speed limit". You can't hear the sound of a butterfly's wings because they flap too slowly. The World's five smallest countries could easily fit inside Walt Disney World. Flamingoes get their pink colour from the shrimp and algae they eat. Armadillos can get leprosy. The average single man is one inch shorter than the average married man. A gallon of seawater yeilds more than a quarter pound of salt. Goats were domesticated around 7000 B.C.
Celery was first cultivated in 7th century B.C. The city of London was founded in 43 B.C. by the Romans. Octopus blood is pale blue. Printing Pioneer Johannes Gutenberg was actually a goldsmith. Charles Lindbergh carried a Felix the Cat doll with him on his famous flight. The phrase "the sky's the limit" comes from Cervante's Don Quixote. The thickest tree on Earth a Cypress in Mexico called El Tule has a girth of 138 feet.

Philadelphia Classic Cheesecake

Prep Time:20 min
Total Time:5 hr 15 min
Makes:16 servings


1-1/2 cups HONEY MAID Graham Cracker Crumbs
3 Tbsp. sugar 1/3 cup butter or margarine, melted
4 pkg. (8 oz. each) PHILADELPHIA Cream Cheese, softened
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
4 eggs

PREHEAT oven to 325°F if using a silver 9-inch springform pan (or to 300°F if using a dark nonstick springform pan). Mix crumbs, 3 Tbsp. sugar and butter; press firmly onto bottom of pan.

BEAT cream cheese, 1 cup sugar and vanilla with electric mixer on medium speed until well blended. Add eggs, 1 at a time, mixing on low speed after each addition just until blended. Pour over crust.

BAKE 55 minutes or until center is almost set. Loosen cake from side of pan; cool before removing side of pan. Refrigerate 4 hours or overnight. Store leftover cheesecake in refrigerator.

Alley Tree

I was in Toronto for a while last Christmas and I saw this tree and for some reason I had to get a picture.

Baba O' Riley Lyrics

Out here in the fields
I fight for my meals
I get my back into my living.
I don't need to fight
To prove I'm right
I don't need to be forgiven.

Don't cry
Don't raise your eye
It's only teenage wasteland

Sally, take my hand
We'll travel south cross land
Put out the fire
And don't look past my shoulder.
The exodus is here
The happy ones are near
Let's get together
Before we get much older.

Teenage wasteland
It's only teenage wasteland.
Teenage wasteland
Oh, yeah
Teenage wasteland
They're all wasted!

The unofficial national sugary snack

There are more doughnut shops per capita in Canada than anywhere else on the planet. Canadians eat more doughnuts than any other country's citizens. Although the doughnut is often seen as an American icon, it has become Canada's unofficial national snack. The popularity of the deep fried treats has to do with Canada's love affair with coffee, reports CBC's Beth Harrington. Coffee and doughnuts go hand in hand. And since coffee is Canada's number one beverage, its partner in crime, the humble doughnut, ranks up there in popularity.

Special Thanks to CBC

How To Shatter a (Useless) American Penny


Step 1:
Select a penny made in 1983 or later. These pennies are actually copper-coated zinc. (Back in 1982, making one penny out of copper became more expensive than the one cent it was worth.)

Step 2:
Place the penny in a bowl--ideally, a bowl that you won't mind losing.

Step 3:
Add enough liquid nitrogen to the bowl to cover the penny. If you are low on liquid nitrogen, gently swirl it around the penny. Don't waste or spill the liquid nitrogen: this ultra-cold liquid boils at −321 °F and will disappear rapidly in room temperature.

Step 4:
Remove the penny from the bowl with either a pair of pliers or tweezers or with a heavily-insulated glove immediately after the liquid nitro has fully dissolved. If you haven't already, don a pair of protective goggles.

Step 5:
Place the penny on a flat surface. Strike the penny with something sharp, like the claw of a hammer. If the penny has sufficiently frozen, it will shatter into several pieces, most likely in many, many directions.

Thermite Experiments

Sonnet 47 by William Shakespeare

Betwixt mine eye and heart a league is took,
And each doth good turns now unto the other:
When that mine eye is famish'd for a look,
Or heart in love with sighs himself doth smother,
With my love's picture then my eye doth feast,
And to the painted banquet bids my heart;
Another time mine eye is my heart's guest,
And in his thoughts of love doth share a part:
So, either by thy picture or my love,
Thy self away, art present still with me;
For thou not farther than my thoughts canst move,
And I am still with them, and they with thee;
Or, if they sleep, thy picture in my sight
Awakes my heart, to heart's and eyes' delight.

Animal Group Names

Animal Name Collective Noun
Ant A colony
Antelope A herd
Ape A shrewdness
Ass / donkey A pace or herd
Baboons A troop
Bacteria A culture
Badger A cete
Bass A shoal
Bats A colony
Bear A sleuth or sloth
Beaver A colony
Bee A swarm, grist or hive
Bird A flock, flight, congregation or volery
Boar A sounder
Buck A brace or clash
Buffalo A herd or obstinacy
Camel A flock
Cat A clowder or clutter
Caterpillar An army
Cattle A herd or drove
Chicken A brood or peep
Chicks A clutch or chattering
Clam A bed
Cockroaches An intrusion
Cobra A quiver
Colt A rag
Cow A kine
Coyote A band
Crane A sedge or siege
Crocodile A float
Crow A murder
Cub A litter
Cur A cowardice
Curlew A herd
Deer A herd
Dog A pack
Donkey A herd or pace
Dove A dule
Dragon A weyr
Duck A brace, paddling or team
Elephant A herd
Elk A gang
Emus A mob
Falcons A cast
Ferret A business or fesnyng or cast
Finches A charm
Fish A school, shoal, run, haul, or catch
Fly A swarm or business
Fox A skulk or leash
Frog An army or colony
Geese A flock, gaggle or skein (in flight)
Giraffe A tower
Gnat A cloud or horde
Gnu An implausibilty or herd
Goat A herd, tribe or trip
Goldfinch A charm
Goldfish A troubling
Gorilla A band
Greyhound A leash
Grouse A covey or pack
Hare A down or husk
Hawk A cast or kettle
Hen A brood
Heron A hedge or sedge
Hippopotamus A bloat
Hog A drift, or parcel
Horse A team, pair or harras
Hound A pack, mute or cry
Jellyfish A smack
Kangaroo A troop or mob
Kitten A kindle or litter
Lark An ascension or exaultation
Leopard A leap
Lion A pride
Locust A plague
Magpie A tiding, gulp, charm or murder
Mallard A sord
Mare A stud
Marten A richness
Mouse A mischief
Mole A labour
Monkey A troop
Mule A barren or span
Otter A romp
Owls A parliament
Oxen A yoke, drove, team or herd
Oyster A bed
Parrot A company
Partridge A covey
Peacock A muster or ostentation or pride
Peep A litter
Penguin A parcel or huddles or colonies
Pheasant A nest, nide (nye) or bouquet
Pig A litter
Pigeon A flock or flight
Pony A string
Porpoise A pod
Quail A covey or bevy
Rabbit A nest
Rat A pack or swarm
Rattlesnake A rhumba
Raven An unkindness or storytelling
Rhino A crash or herd
Roebuck A bevy
Rook A building or clamour
Sardines A family
Seal A herd or pod
Sheep A drove or flock
Snake A nest
Sparrow A host
Squirrel A dray or scurry
Starling A murmuration
Stork A mustering
Swallow A flight
Swan A bevy, herd, lamentation or wedge
Swift A flock
Swine A sounder or drift
Tiger A swift or ambush
Toad A knot
Trout A hover
Turkey A rafter
Turtle A bale
Turtledove A pitying or dule
Viper A nest
Walrus A pod
Whale A school, gam or pod
Wolf A pack or route
Woodpecker A descent
Zebra A herd, zeal, dazzle, or crossing (joke)

Saturday, March 29, 2008

The Sweet Escape Lyrics

(Woo-who, yee-who)x4

If I could escape
I would, but first of all let me say
I must apologize for acting, stinking, treating you this way
Cause I've been acting like sour milk all on the floor
It's your fault you didn't shut the refridgerator
Maybe that's the reason I've been acting so cold

If I could escape
And re-create a place as my own world
And I could be your favorite girl
Forever, perfectly together
Tell me boy, now wouldn't that be sweet?

If I could be sweet
I know I've been a real bad girl
I didn't mean for you to get hurt
Whatsoever, we can make it better
Tell me boy, Now wouldn't that be sweet?
Sweet escape

(I wanna get away, to our sweet escape)

You let me down
I'm at my lowest boiling point
Come help me out
I need to get me out of this joint
Come on, let's bounce
Counting on you to turn me around
Instead of clowning around let's look for some common ground

So baby, times getting a little crazy
I've been getting a little lazy
Waiting for you to come save me
I can see that you're angry
By the way the you treat me
Hopefully you don't leave me
Want to take you with me

If I could escape
And re-create a place as my own world
And I could be your favorite girl
Forever, perfectly together
Ttell me boy, now wouldn't that be sweet?

If I could be sweet
I know I've been a real bad girl
I didn't mean for you to get hurt
Forever, we can make it better
Tell me boy, now wouldn't that be sweet?
Sweet escape

(Woo-who, yee-who)x4

If I could escape

Cause I've been acting like sour milk fell on the floor
It's your fault you didn't shut the refridgerator
Maybe that's the reason I've been acting so cold

If I could escape
And re-create a place in my own world
And I could be your favorite girl
Forever, perfectly together
Tell me boy, now wouldn't that be sweet?

If I could be sweet
I know I've been a real bad girl
I didn't mean for you to get hurt
Forever, we can make it better
Tell me boy, now wouldn't that be sweet?
Sweet escape

(Woo-who, yee-who)
(I wanna get away, to our sweet escape)

The History of the Cat

Our English word "cat" doesn't seem to have come into general usage until around 300 A.D., give or take a few decades or so. It is interesting to note that several of the world's languages call this animal by a name very similar to the English words "cat" or "puss" (which itself is believed to have derived from the name of the ancient Egyptian goddess Pasht, a cat-headed deity who was considered a darker manifestation of Bast; a.k.a.Bastet, acknowledged as the Mother of ALL cats and a goddess we'll return to later).

For instance, all the following examples are the words for the creature we call "cat":
As for the Egyptians, they called the creature Mau, meaning "to see." No doubt the name also made onomatopoetic reference to the cat's familiar meowing. No one really knows for certain, but it is believed that the cat may have been domesticated by these ancient Egyptians 4,000 to 5,000 years ago; relatively recent when you consider that the dog has been a companion to humans for 20,000 years, perhaps even longer. Some experts theorize that this human/dog relationship may have been going on as long as 50,000 years. As a result, the cat has retained many of its natural instincts and behaviors, having only been among humans a short while, whereas dogs have evolved right alongside us for quite some time now.
There is something about their confident personality that we admire. In fact, the ancient Egyptians were so fascinated by this detached quality of the cat that they considered them to be nothing less than godlike. To the Egyptians all cats were divine, and extreme behavior was often acted out to reinforce this conviction. For instance, if a someone happened to come across a dead cat in the street, he or she would put on a loud display of sorrow and mourning just to make sure no one thought that they were responsible for killing the cat. You see, according to Egyptian law, being found guilty of cat murder was punishable by death.

Whenever a household cat died of natural causes, the entire family would go through a period of grief, shaving their eyebrows as a mark of their sadness. Deceased cats were very often mummified and entombed with fine jewelry and treasures; a custom usually reserved for only the most powerful and wealthy of the ruling class.


But by far, the most fanatical demonstration of Egypt's devotion to her cats occurred in 500 B.C.2 during a period of warfare with Persia. At the city of Pelusium, the Persian and Egyptian armies engaged in fierce combat, but the Egyptians resisted the onslaught with a fixed determination to save their city. The resolve of the Egyptian war machine proved too much for the rapidly tiring Persian army. Sensing ruinous defeat if the battle continued, the Persians retreated while they still could. The Egyptians knew that this wouldn't be the end of it, so the army maintained a condition of battle readiness, waiting for the Persians to return.

What the Persians were up to was a brilliant scheme that displayed a profound understanding of their enemy's culture and beliefs. They discovered a kink in the Egyptian armor, a weakness they would fully exploit. Night after night, the Persians deployed their elite forces to the villages and towns of the surrounding countryside, silently capturing as many cats as they could lay their hands upon. Once satisfied with the number of animals they'd collected, the Persian army returned to the city of Pelusium.

The Egyptians first noticed the distant clouds of dust, kicked up by the approaching Persian army, at dawn. The troops were readied for battle in an orderly manner, well rested and ready for combat.

Within an hour, the two armies positioned themselves in assembled ranks, glaring at each other across the battlefield. The Egyptian General signaled for the attack. In an instant, the Egyptian army charged upon the Persians who, oddly enough, held their ground. The Egyptians roared like thunder as they rapidly advanced on the Persian front line. Suddenly, there was movement within the Persian forces. Curious, but undaunted, the Egyptians continued their charge. Then, they saw a sight that nearly froze them in their tracks. Hundreds of panic stricken cats were released upon the battlefield. The Egyptian army watched in horror as the sacred animals ran about in deadly fear. Confusion spread through the Egyptian ranks as the Persian army seized the opportunity to take the aggressive. Advancing upon the stunned Egyptians in a evenly paced march, each of the Persian soldiers held forth a terrified cat. The Egyptians knew then and there that they were defeated.

Not a single Egyptian soldier dared to engage the enemy, fearing that to do so might endanger the lives of the cats. Without suffering a single casualty, the Persians secured their victory, devastating the Egyptians.

It has been suggested that the Egyptians initially used the cat to control the rodent population which continually destroyed crops. This seems to be a reasonable speculation, but it's obvious that the cat meant much more to the Egyptians than that. Kingdoms don't loose wars merely for the sake of four-legged mousetraps.

Certainly, something of the cat's behavior suggested that a very powerful spiritual connection existed between humans, cats, and the gods. The Pharaohs and the priests alike were quite protective of their honored feline population. The distribution of cats throughout the Kingdom was carefully regulated, while exportation of cats was absolutely forbidden. Since the cat insured agricultural security by keeping away harmful pests, a surplus of goods was able to develop which gave Egypt wealth and strength, and plenty of economic clout when it came to dealing with other countries. No wonder they guarded these animals so closely. The domesticated cat was nothing less than a priceless secret weapon that contributed immeasurably to the greatness of ancient Egypt.

But eventually domesticated cats did find their way out of Egypt thanks to the Greeks who stole the animals to control their own rodent problem, and to use as powerful bargaining chips in international trade. This didn't go over so well with the Egyptians. In fact, one Pharaoh sent out his army to various lands in a futile effort to recapture the liberated felines and return them home to Egypt.

Unfortunately for the Egyptians, it was too late. Warfare and trade had resulted in the distribution of domesticated cats throughout the Mediterranean and perhaps by this time, even as far as Asia. The Egyptian monopoly on domestic cats had at last come to an end.


Phoenician cargo ships are thought to have brought the first domesticated cats to the European continent around 900 B.C. In time, the Romans adopted the cat as a symbol of freedom and liberty. Never quite venerating felines to the extent of the Egyptians, the Romans nevertheless held the cat in high regard, and it is believed that they are responsible for introducing the cat to Britain during the course of their numerous campaigns of conquest in that region.

Over the subsequent centuries, the domesticated cat proliferated throughout Europe, the Middle East, and China. Though no longer worshipped as deities, cats were still honored and appreciated for their mousing abilities no matter where they turned up. By the 11th Century, about the time the Crusades began, cats were in huge demand since the rats were beginning to overrun the cities. Domesticated cats could now be found as far as Scotland.

While their obvious hunting abilities were being put to good use, the domesticated cat retained its mysterious, otherworldly aura of heavenly protector and benefactor.

Catholic Monasteries kept cats as guardians (that is, until the Church decided that they didn't like cats anymore); Sailors would bring along cats during long sea voyages believing they possessed miraculous powers to protect them from dangerous weather; in a very short time, the cat spread throughout the world, becoming a treasured companion and friend.

All seemed well for these cats and the people that loved them, for a good long time in fact. Unfortunately, this was not to last. By the close of the 15th Century, Pope Innocent VIII decided that adulation for cats was tantamount to pagan worship in defiance of God. This led to the belief that cats were evil, existing solely to mislead and destroy the faithful. The Inquisition was given instructions to hunt down all cat owners and try them as heretics and witches. For a while, cats were burned to death by the hundreds, right along side their human caretakers. The crime: "consorting with demonic forces."

It was a far cry from their exalted days in ancient Egypt.

But cats persevered. In fact, they flourished. Centuries passed as people of various cultures spread diverse influences across the globe, while the stoic cat accompanied this progress each step of the way. And through it all, the cat has thankfully retained its independent qualities, its silent contemplative nature, its persona of supernatural wisdom.

Obviously cats won't be leaving the scene anytime soon. They are very much a part of our our consciousness, both culturally and spiritually. Their traits are often used to describe human activities. To comment on their independence is nothing more than a safe cliché. Being such an ubiquitous animal, we tend to take them for granted, but remember this: They are the descendants of temple dwelling cats, domesticated by the Egyptians and regarded as sacred. To ignore their unique lineage is to sever all metaphorical links to our mystic past, and this would indeed be a tragedy.

South American Cat Names

You may have noticed that the opening quotation for this section comes from a man with no connection to South America by any stretch of the imagination. So sue me. You try finding an appropriate quote associated with a continent that's been devoid of house-cats for most of its history. As for wild cats, well that's another story. The jungles of South America are home to many different species. Some are well known like the powerful Jaguar, worshipped as a god by the Incas, or the Puma, native to both North and South America. These are large cats, close in size to the Leopard or Cheetah. Then there are the medium sized cats of South America-the Ocelot, the Margay, et al. Last but not least are the small cats. Some are about as big as domestic cats, like the Pampas cat, the Mountain cat, Geoffrey's cat. Others are smaller than the domestic cat, for instance, the Kodkod, the Oncilla, and the Jaguarundi. With such a variety of small cats indigenous to South America, I wonder why none of the various cultures ever domesticated their cats as the Africans had? Perhaps the environment was too demanding to allow the time that domestication required. Perhaps African domestication of the cat was prompted by an ecological need of some sort that brought the cat into human contact, whereas no such need existed in South America. Who can tell? One attribute that the peoples of both continents shared was the deification of their local cats. For instance, there were the Quechua Indians of South America and their cat spirit, Ccoa. He was something of a foul-tempered entity, holder of the powers over lightning and hail which he wouldn't hesitate to use on both people and crops. As you might expect, he was continually presented with offerings in the hope that he might be placated. Of course there is the Jaguar, worshipped as a powerful god by many New World civilizations including that skillfully organized conglomeration of tribes known as the mighty empire of the Incas. Of all the South American cultures, the Incas were undoubtedly the greatest. In the short span of 90 years (1440 - 1530) the Incas had forged a vast empire that unified various tribes into a single political and economic entity that spread across the west coast of the South American continent for 2500 miles of diverse geography ranging from desert to jungle to the imposing snow covered peaks of the Andes. Known for their remarkable achievements in social planning and administration, architecture and engineering, agriculture and art, the Incas maintained civil stability through tolerant acceptance of the many different cultural practices embraced by the tribes they had conquered. Though this empire was ruled by an absolute monarch thought to be a living god (the incarnate son of the glorious solar deity) social conditions were surprisingly liberal; often strict but for the most part fair. This brief section presents, for your cat-naming consideration, a mere sampling of gods recognized by the Incas as well as a few deities that were worshipped by some of the lesser known tribes of South America.

ARICONTE (ah-rih-CON-tay; Male): The name of this old Brazilian god isn't so hard to pronounce, but his twin brother's name, Tamendonare, presents a bit more of a challenge. As far as twins go, these two were unusual because each had a different father. They were both born of the same mother and at the same time, but one twin was fathered by the hero-god Maira Ata, while the other was sired by a regular mortal guy named Sarigoys. The clincher was that no one knew which father begat which twin. This situation was the cause of severe tension between the brothers, and they became deadly foes of one another. Even so, together they managed to engage in some pretty wild enterprises. For example, their mother was eaten by cannibals when they were just babies. Once they reached maturity they ventured forth on a quest for the homicidal gastronomes that had so rudely feasted upon "Mom." They eventually found the cannibals they were looking for and enacted their vengeance forthwith by, of all things, transforming the butchers into wild cats!

BOCHICHA (boh-CHEE-chah; Male): To the Chibcha people of what we now call Columbia, Bochicha was the almighty sun god, as well as the founder of civilization and culture. Being a sun god, Bochicha was offered human sacrifices. Not much of a surprise on that count, really. But if there can be such a thing as a restrained practice of human sacrifice, then the ritual as performed by the Chibcha people must be right up there. First of all they realized that, as far as human bloodletting was concerned, a little bit goes a long way. The victim was usually a young boy, around ten years in age, chosen from the legendary home village of the god Bochicha. He would be taken to the temple, and for five years the priests tended to his every whim. At the end of this period, these same priests would don their ceremonial vestments, bind the fifteen year old boy to a ritual pillar symbolizing the sun, then kill him by shooting his body full of arrows. Then the boy's heart was removed (a custom reminiscent of certain Aztec tendencies), and his blood gathered in ceremonial containers. So, what kind of cat deserves a name like Bochicha? How about one that often brings YOU little sacrifices like pigeons, mice, and so forth?

CATEQUIL (KAT-eh-kwill; Male): The Incas ran a complex empire consisting of many different tribes and cultures, each with their own set of gods. In an effort to appease the naturally occurring anxieties arising from this diversity, the Incas incorporated many of these provincial deities into the official pantheon. Catequil was one such god. He was an ancient god of thunder and lightning, and he also was the responsible force behind the birth of twins. There's only one reason to give your cat this name-the word "cat" is built right in. If you're one of these people that just goes around calling your cat, "cat," then why not add the other two syllables necessary to transform "cat" into Catequil? In a flash your friend will go from common, no-name "cat", to transcendental thunder god of the Incas.

CHASCA (CH'AHZ-kah; Female): This goddess was, to the Incas, nothing less than the personification of the planet Venus (not unlike Aphrodite of the Greeks.) Her name meant something like, "star of long hair." Girls and flowers were among her primary concerns, and by extension, she was also the patron goddess of princesses. A name to give your very own spoiled feline princess.

COLO-COLO (KOH-loh KOH-loh; Male): Do you know what a Basilisk is? According to European bestiaries, the Basilisk was a fierce lizard-like/bird-like creature capable of killing by merely looking upon its intended victim. The breath of a Basilisk was also deadly, said to be able to destroy all within its proximity. Well, to the ancient tribe that flourished in the area that is today known as Chile, Colo-Colo was pretty much the New World equivalent. Born of a cock's egg, Colo-Colo was said to live upon the saliva of his prey. That aside, he nevertheless possessed a quite useful, typically cat-sounding name.

INTI (IHN-tee; Male): To the Incas, their ruler ("the Inca" as he was called) was a direct descendant of Inti, the potent sun god. Inti was often thought of as a brilliantly shinning disk of gold with facial features, but he was also represented as human in form. He was the consort of Mama Quilla, the Moon goddess. Their sons Viracocha, Pachacamac. and Manco Capac, all figure large in the myths of the Incas. Since Inti was a solar god, he was of primary importance to agriculture. In his honor, the great festival known as Inti Raymi was celebrated as an eight day feast of thanks for the maize harvest. Each day from sunrise to sunset a constant stream of chanting poured from the lips of the Inca himself, leading his people in a blur of ritual and sacrifice. Offerings of llamas, as well as bales coca leaves, were presented during this time. The festivities came to a close on the eighth day when the Inca himself ceremonially broke the ground of the planting fields with a hand plow. As for the name itself, it's easy to pronounce and remember, making it perfect for any dominant male cat. What more do you need?

KURUPIRA (koo-roo-PEE-rah; Male): Here's the ultimate name for an antisocial kitty. To the tribes of ancient Brazilians, this guy was just an odd little imp that haunted the Amazonian rain forests. Kurupira didn't like people that much, but he was the chief protector of animals. Why didn't he like people? Because people eat animals, that's why. No wonder this name suits the nature of suspiciously contemplative cats, preferentially shy of humans.

MAMA QUILLA (MAH-mah KEE-lah; Female): The Incas had a myth concerning lunar eclipses that is fairly common among ancient peoples. In these stories the Moon is always attacked by some force or creature that manages to swallow the darn thing, only to be defeated in the end by some big-shot hero. For the Incas, this creature was the snake or puma, and the Moon itself was a goddess known as Mama Quilla. Analogous to her solar husband Inti, Mama Quilla was portrayed as a silver disk with a human face. She ruled over calendars and the measurement of time, and kept protective watch over married women. Reserve this name for a nocturnal cat, marvelously in tune with the cycles of nature.

MANCO CAPAC (MAHN-koh KAH-pahk; Male): One of four siblings (the youngest) born to the sun god, Inti. Being the youngest, naturally he demanded that his voice be heard over his more experienced and louder brothers. When his oldest brother foolishly claimed absolute rule over the earth, Manco Capac had a fit. He settled the matter by sealing the would-be lord of the earth in a cave high atop a distant mountain. Manco Capac then grabbed another one of his brothers and tossed him over the edge of another mountain. A third brother, witnessing these events as they happened, decided that nothing was going to stop his resolute baby brother, so he split for the hills and was never heard from again. So it was that Manco Capac himself assumed leadership of the world. A name to keep in mind for adamant cats, bent on getting their own way.

MASAYA (mah-SIGH-yah; Female): Yet another name for your ebony mouser. Masaya was the ancient Nicaraguan goddess of volcanoes. She was depicted as a nasty old harridan with black wrinkled skin. The only way you could calm her ire was by tossing a human sacrifice into the cauldron of a seething volcano-a ritual you've no doubt seen in movies a countless times. Sometimes this worked, sometimes it didn't.

PACHACAMAC (pah-chah-KAH-mack; Male) PACHAMAMA (pah-chah-MAH-mah; Female): This set of names might fit a husband and wife team of cats since they refer to a husband and wife team of earth deities. You may recall that Pachacamac was one of the sons of Inti, sun god of the Incas. Actually, to the ancient people of the Peruvian coast, Pachacamac and his wife Pachamama were earth gods predating the influence of the Incas. They were brought into the fold of Inca deities strictly as a political gesture of conciliation toward a group of tribes absorbed by the growing empire of the Incas. Still, they were important. One myth describes Pachacamac as a miracle working white-man, tall and evenly tempered. It was said that he preached of spreading love to all people, urging a life of brotherly accord. There was even a city named for him where a great temple was built in his honor. To this day one may still visit the ruins of that temple-a pyramid 70 feet high, covering 12« acres.

SUPAI (SOO-pie; Male): The only reason this name was included was for its simplicity. Names don't get much easier than Supai. This should be reason enough to consider this name for your cat. Never mind that this is another one of those many names that just screams out: "Black-cat name!" This is to be expected from the name of the Inca god of death and the underworld. So ravenous was Supai's lust for new souls that each year 100 children were sacrificed to his person. Take my advice. Use this simple name and keep quiet about its sinister origins.

THOMAGATA (toh-mah-GAH-tah; Male): Apparently one viscious looking character, Thomagata the thunder god was also something of a trickster god to the Chibcha people of ancient Columbia. Stories tell of the pleasure he took in transforming people into animals. Another tale describes an epic battle between Thomagata and Bochicha (sun god.) Of course, the sun god wins the day, but only by fighting dirty; apparently Bochicha kicked Thomagata right in the nuts, making him forever impotent. I suppose it goes without saying that this name fits cats of an "altered" persuasion.

VIRACOCHA (vihr-ah-KOH-cha; Male): Another one of the sons of Inti, the sun god of the Incas. Like his brother Pachacamac, Viracocha was a pre-Inca holdover, added to the official pantheon for political stability. He was considered the god of water, originating in the union of sun god powers and storm god powers. As an embodiment of the life giving properties of water, Viracocha made his home in the considerable depths of Lake Titicaca. Since he possessed this power of life's origin, as well as his father's solar might, the Incas worshipped him as their supreme god-creator of all. In human form Viracocha is often portrayed as crying tears onto the earth's surface from which all life springs. Obviously a name for a cat well aquatinted with his own powers of fecundity.

Slavic Cat Names

To be honest, the Slavonic myths aren't really known for examples of cat fancying. Of course, much later, Russian fairy tales were filled with wise and magical cats, but you won't find many of the critters in the stories of the ancient Slavs. Still, theirs was a unique culture, filled with mythological deities exhibiting unmistakably feline tendencies. So who were (and who are) the Slavs? Actually, they're the folks that influenced much of Eastern Europe including those areas we now call Poland, Romania (with that enigmatic region called Transylvania), Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Croatia, Serbia, Moldavia, the Ukraine, and Russia. It is believed that these people originated from the Carpathian Mountains, developing a distinct ethnicity approximately 3000 to 4000 years ago. However, the Slavs didn't become identifiable as a unique and distinguishable culture until around the 6th Century A.D. By then Slavic clans had spread as far as Greece and Constantinople. They were primarily a tribal people, living in small groups of hunters and fishermen. Some clans practiced animal husbandry while others took to agriculture. Over the centuries the Slavs diversified quite appreciably. Some tribes developed hostilities toward one another, as in the Serbs and Croats. The Slavonic line continues to this day in the people we now call Poles, Czechs, Slovaks, Macedonians and Russians, just to name a few. Like the myths of Nordic culture, what we know of Slavonic mythology has been handed down through the medieval scholarship of Christian monks. The Slavic tales and beliefs may seem unfamiliar to us today but among the many supernatural beings populating their stories, two should be instantly recognizable to any fan of horror films. They are the "upir" or vampire, and the "vlkodlak", also known as the werewolf. Sorry, but no werecats.

BANNIK (BAN-ihk; Male): Most cats hate being bathed, but a rare few actually enjoy the experience. If you have such a cat, you might name him after the Slavic god of bathing, Bannik. He is said to be a shriveled little old man with a lengthy white beard and radically out of control hair. Bannik occupied the domestic bath-houses, (called Banyas) which were structures kept separate from the Izba-the primary domicile. Anyone using the bath-house was expected to leave an offering of water to show their appreciation. One odd twist to Slavic bath-house etiquette was the observation of a fourfold bathing cycle, with every fourth bath-time reserved for Bannik and his otherworldly spirit friends. This meant that the banya could be used three times in a row, but whoever happened to be the fourth person wishing to use it would just have to wait. It was believed that anyone disrespectful enough to ignore this custom by entering the bath-house before the god was finished would be beaten or perhaps even killed by Bannik or one of the other lounging entities. How you were supposed to know when the spirits were done is anyone's guess. I suspect that whenever someone mustered their courage to take a peek inside the bath-house, they were rewarded by the "all clear" discovery of an empty banya. There is another, more cat-like characteristic attributed to this god. Apparently Bannik could tell fortunes by scratching your back. You were supposed to sit in the doorway of the bath-house with your back facing the interior. You then asked your question. If the answer was "yes" then Bannik would softly caress your back, but if the answer was "no" then he'd use you like a flesh covered scratching post. Obviously this would be an inappropriate name for a cat that's been declawed. On the other hand, if your cat loves to shred...well, you get the picture.

DAZHBOG (DAHSH-bog; Male): Got a spoiled cat living the life of Riley? Name him after the Slavic sun god, Dazhbog. Dazhbog had it made. He lived in a palace of gold located in an eastern province that enjoyed a perpetual summer. He drove a diamond chariot, had two beautiful women (Dawn and Evening) that lived with him in the palace, had access to any material treasure that could be imagined, and had his youth restored each and every morning. All celestial bodies were at his service-the moon was his wisest advisor, the planets acted as his attendants, and comets were his personal messengers. Some tales have the moon as his wife, the countless stars their children. Dazhbog didn't have a care in the world, which is just as it should be for the god that rules happiness and rewards.

KIKIMORA (kee-kee-MORE-ah; Female): Kikimora, goddess of home and hearth-her domain brings to mind the image of a plump, matronly cat, sleeping soundly by a warm fireplace, content and assured of her household territory. Is this an accurate image? Yes and no. It's true that Kikimora was the goddess of domestic affairs, always ready to lend a hand when it came to housecleaning. This seems to go well with the description of that comfy house cat. But behavioral characteristics are one thing, physical appearances quite another. In this regard, all feline comparisons go right out the window. You see, Kikimora had the legs of a giant hen and a face complimented by a chicken's beak. This makes sense when you consider the importance of poultry in maintaining a well fed household. As helpful as this goddess was to diligent homemakers, she could also be a terrible nuisance to slothful housekeepers. She was known to break glasses, hide cooking utensils, ruin food, and generally make a big mess of laziness even bigger until someone finally got down to putting the house in order.

KUPALA (koo-PAH-lah; Female): Like many ancient cultures, the Slavs recognized a mystic relationship between fire and water with each possessing similar purifying capabilities. Other cultures believed that water and fire contained magical properties that, when unified, became the very source of life. Perhaps the Slavs believed this as well, since their water and fire rituals were associated with the magic of herbs and plant life. Bringing all these ideas together was Kupala, the goddess of water. Being the ruler of water linked her with the powers of fire which in turn bound her to the world of herbal magic. To the Slavs there was an herb for everything-one to uncover gold, one to win the attentions of women, one to bestow powers of precognition. Of all the herbs none were as potent as the humble fern. The Slavs took all this very seriously. Gathering herbs was no simple matter-it was a task preceded by ritualistic ordeals of the most intense physical and spiritual nature, all designed to force one to confront their deepest fears, insecurities, and misconceptions. No wonder Kupala was such an important goddess. Personally I think this name should go to any cat bent on chewing houseplants, grass, or any other herbal substance including that perennial feline favorite, Nepeta cataria, otherwise known as catnip.

LESHY (LEH-shee; Male): On the one hand you might give this name to a cat of the breed called Russian Blue since Leshy was said to have blue blood which gave his skin a distinctive blue tint. Leshy was also said to have green hair and beard. This brings to mind the strange case of the green kitten discovered in Denmark back in October of 1995. From head to toe this odd kitty's fur was light green in color. Dyed fur was quickly ruled out. The only reasonable explanation for this mystery was that the kitten had accumulated an unusual amount of copper in its blood due to drinking water from eroding copper pipes. Leshy was the god of the forests and wild places. He enjoyed perplexing humanity, but not in a mean spirited manner. If you don't happen to have a blue or green cat, then this name might well suit an adventurous, outdoorsy cat.

POLEVIK (POH-leh-vick; Male): If your cat tends to be violently territorial, he may have much in common with Polevik, the god of the fields. So vicious was he in guarding his land that unfortunate humans who happened to doze off in the fields were very often killed by this jealous god.

RUSALKI (roo-SAHL-kee; Female): This was the name given to a group of dangerous river goddesses whose main objective was to drown men. The legend tells of a young maiden by the name of Rusalka who suffered a watery death. Since then, girls meeting a similar fate were transformed into the Rusalki; treacherous entities that inhabit rivers and lakes. I don't know how this might relate to cats, but the name has a nice ring to it, don't you think?

VOLOS (VOH-lohs; Male): An all purpose name for any cat since Volos was the god of animals. He was mainly concerned with beasts of burden, creatures of the field, horned quadrupeds with cloven hoofs and such, but so what? A god of animals is a god of animals, so don't hesitate to christen your feline beast after this ancient god.

YARILO (yah-RILL-oh; Male): This Slavic god of carnality was a lot like Eros of the Greeks. In fact the name Yarilo comes from a word suggesting uncontrollable desire-a trait often associated with Yarilo's Greek counterpart. Since he was the god of love and procreation, he was also connected to agricultural cycles. Each summer there was a celebration observing his symbolic "death" manifested by the annual harvest. Add this one to the list of horny cat names.

ZORYA (ZOR-yah; Female): The Zorya are actually three very important goddesses who are nothing less than the guardians of the universe. Recognized as Morning, Evening, and Midnight, it is their job to insure that a monstrous dog of destruction remains shackled to the group of stars identified as "Little Bear." This tidbit of information should please cats everywhere, but one day this terrible dog will break free despite the mighty Zorya. When that happens the world will come to an end, and all because a mean dog got loose in the celestial neighborhood. If your cat is the strong protective type she might be deserving of this special name.

Roman Cat Names

Despite their less demonstrative nature, the Romans admired the cat almost as much as the Egyptians. They certainly appreciated them more than the Greeks did. For instance, Romans considered the cat to be a the god of liberty. Cats were the only animal allowed in Roman temples. Some Romans considered the cat a household god representing the warmth and security of the home. At Roman funerals, sacrifices were made to the cat insuring protection in the afterlife for the deceased. At Roman weddings, sacrifices were made to the cat insuring a prosperous future.

All this suggests that the cat played something of a governing role in the civic life of the average Roman citizen. Roman myths are often graced by the presence of cats. In fact, one tale tells of the goddess Diana's transformation into a cat so she might escape the evil forces of the dragon-like creature, Typhon. By some accounts, Diana was considered the protector of cats, while other accounts demonstrate just how contradictory ancient lore can be by associating her with dogs!

Cats were often kept as mascots by the Roman army. It has been said that cats "marched with the Legions," and it's not too great a stretch to speculate that these peripatetic Roman Legions may have contributed greatly to the worldwide spread of domestic cats. Since many of these Roman gods are nearly identical to Greek gods, this section will often refer you to the entry describing the Greek equivalent, while also providing any unique attributes the Romans may have added along the way.

ANGERONA (Ann'-Jer-Oh'-Nah; Female): With Angerona we get a rare example of an indigenous Roman goddess. The only problem is, we don't know very much about her. This is fitting since one of the few things we do know about her is that she was the goddess of secrecy. It's believed that she might have been the guardian of secret names. If you knew the secret name of something, you could control it. Angerona was probably charged with the important task of protecting the secret name of Rome. She is depicted with a gag in her mouth, and right index finger to her lips signifying silence. Since that's about all we know of her, I'd say she did a good job. In his poem "The Naming Of Cats", T.S. Eliot makes a point reminiscent of Angerona: But above and beyond there's still one name left over, / And that is the name that you never will guess; / The name that no human research can discover-/ But THE CAT HIMSELF KNOWS, and will never confess. A name for a mysteriously surreptitious cat.

BACCHUS (Bahk'-Us; Male): was the god of wine, revelry, fertility, vegetation, and hedonism. If he sounds like a softened copy of DIONYSUS, that's because he is. However, there were some differences. Being more of a happy drunk, Bacchus wasn't really as big a jerk as the sullen and morbid alcoholic, Dionysus. One can imagine Bacchus, joyously intoxicated, gladly pouring his friends never-ending goblets of the finest wine while everyone commences to sing merrily, Dionysus on the other hand, can be pictured as filthy drunk. In Bacchus, the Romans also emphasized the aspect of agricultural rebirth far suited more than the Greeks. As with Dionysus, Bacchus is a name suited for a rowdy cat, though less grouchy and filled with more vitality.

BELLONA (Bell-Oh'-Nah; Female. ): Here's a name for an aggressive cat. Bellona, the goddess of war, seems to be a Roman invention. When a gladiator managed to outlive his many opponents, he was often asked to serve as one of Bellona's priests within her temple. This temple was sometimes used as a tool of psychological intimidation toward foreign diplomats since it was the place where the Roman senate would arrange to meet with them. It didn't always work, but when you consider that the Roman Empire ruled the civilized world for over 500 years, it seems to have worked well enough.

CERES (Sir'-Eez; Female. See Greek goddess, DEMETER): She was the goddess of corn and crops in general. Her festival, held on April 19, was called the Cerealis. Yes, we do getour word cereal from her name. Good for a motherly cat, or for a silent and mystifying cat.

CUPID (Kyoo'-Pid; Male. See Greek god, EROS): The cherubic god of love, and son of Venus. The Romans didn't take this fellow seriously at all. Compared to the heavy and powerful emotions Eros represented to the Greeks, Cupid was nothing more than a farcical weakling always up to crazy mischief. Still, Cupid is a much better name for an affectionate cat than, say, "Mr. Love-Kitty."

DIANA (Dye-Ann'-Ah; Female, See Greek goddess, ARTEMIS): The Romans knew her as the virgin huntress and goddess of the wilderness. At Lake Nemi, located north of Rome, Diana's Temple stood amidst a grove of oak trees. Legend holds that if an escaped slave could make it to this Temple, he could challenge the incumbent priest/custodian to a duel. If the slave succeeded in killing the priest, he won the privilege of appropriating the job for himself. This guaranteed him sanctuary, abundant meals, and respect as the sitting priest/custodian of the Temple to Diana--that is, until he too was slain by an exigent slave, running just as he had once run. There are several reasons why you might want to name your cat after Diana. For instance, you might recognize a certain wildness in your pet that recalls the goddess's love of the wild, or you may have a cat that is an excellent hunter.

FAUNA (Faw'-Nah; Female) FAUNUS ( Faw'-Nuhs; Male): Goddess and god of crops, herds, and fertility. These two were uniquely Roman, though most cultures have similar gods. In true Roman fashion, both of their festivals (Fauna's was in December; Faunus' had his on February 15, a wild celebration called the Lupercalia) were loud and boisterous affairs filled with kinky shenanigans like you wouldn't believe. For example, during the celebration of Fauna, only women were allowed to participate in the goddess's secret rites. Men were not allowed anywhere near the observances, which makes sense since they were actually huge lesbian orgies. That didn't stop Publius Clodius, who in 62 B.C. got into drag and crashed one of the many sites where these covert "ceremonies" were taking place. Obviously it didn't take long before he was found out. This caused a huge scandal that shook Rome to its foundations. It didn't help matters that the rites were being held in the home of a guy named Pontifex Maximus, who later went on to great fame under the name of Julius Caesar. As for the rituals performed by the men during the revelries of Faunus, they were not unlike those performed by the women during their orgies to Fauna. The difference was, at THIS festival women were not only allowed to participate, they were encouraged. The gala affair was basically a purification rite, with the men running around naked, screaming and yelling while whipping the backs of women crawling on all fours who wished to become pregnant during the coming year. And these were the people that ruled the ancient world for over five centuries. Needless to say, this set of names workswell with a pair of uninhibited housecats.

FERONIA (Fair-Oh'-Nee-Ah; Female): Not a very active goddess, but a goddess with a very beautiful name. She was simply the goddess of spring flowers. Pretty name for just about any cat.

FLORA (Flor'-Ah; Female): Another goddess of flowers and specifically of fruit bearing trees. Her festival was celebrated in April and May. Again, this pretty name would suit most any cat.

FORTUNA (For-Too'-Nah; Female): Worshippers of Fortuna would tell "fortunes" by randomly picking notes of counsel from a ritual vase. From this custom evolved one of our most well known methods of fortune telling-cartomancy, or the reading of cards. I suppose you can add fortune cookies to that as well. That's not all that Fortuna has bequeathed to our time. Since among her symbolic attributes were the sphere and the wheel, that common game of chance known as the Wheel of Fortune (yes, like the T.V. show) is her direct descendent. All this taken into consideration, it follows that this name should go to only the most lucky and fortunate of cats. Better still, if your cat seems to be the source of good luck and fortune (the type of cat the French call matagots, e.g. Dick Whittington's cat), then why not honor her with this important name?

JANUS (Jan'-Us; Male): Essentially, he was the god of beginnings. The first month of the year was named for him, and the first day of each month was set aside to pay him homage. But Janus was also the god of endings, of completion and success. He ruled all comings and goings, arrivals and departures, including the rising and setting of the sun and seasonal changes as well. He was an extremely popular god. Most Roman families kept a small statue of him by the doorways of their homes since Janus was the god of both coming and going. Because of this, he was thought of as the protector of doorways and passages, watching over all who entered and all who exited. To emphasize his dual nature, Janus was depicted as having two faces, one looking forward and the other looking backward, so he could greet all arriving guests and give blessing to all those who departed. Today we continue to remember this god, though over the centuries all his positive characteristics have been forgotten. Only his two-faced countenance is commemorated, and not flatteringly at that. To say someone is <>Janus-faced is simply a fancy way of calling them a hypocrite. Of course, this name should be given to one of those cats that makes a hobby of begging to be let outside, only to start meowing for you to let them back in the house a few minutes later. You know the type...

JUNO (Joo'-No; Female; See Greek goddess, HERA): Like Hera, Juno was the queen of the heavens and of the gods. Wife of Jupiter. At first she was designated as the protectress of all matrons within Rome. Later her responsibilities expanded to include the welfare of the entire Roman state, from matters of national security to economic growth. During her March festival known as the Matronalia, the Roman housewife was exalted. Like her Greek counterpart, peacocks were sacred to Juno, but she also favored geese. Good thing, too. Around 390 B.C. the Gauls mounted an attack against the city of Rome, arousing the sacred geese of Juno's temple to cry out the alarm. From then on the goddess was known as Juno Moneta ("to warn"). Much later a mint was established near one of her temples and the coins manufactured there were also nicknamed moneta, which over the centuries evolved into the English word "money". That aside, you might want to give this name to a respectable, socially upright kitty who enjoys spending summers at her beach house in the Hamptons. If your cat doesn't have a beach house in the Hamptons...well then tough.

JUPITER (Joo'-Pit-Er; Male; See Greek god ZEUS)Supreme god and Lord of the heavens. Actually Jupiter was a bit more serious minded and official than the perpetually philandering Zeus. This is just what you'd expect from the Romans-all politics. But a supreme god is a supreme god, and Jupiter still brandished the lightening bolts when he felt like it. Apart from his bureaucratic side, Jupiter was also the great god of abundance, wealth, and happiness. Also called Jove. If your cat deserves to be named after the king of all Roman gods, believe me, you'll know it.

LIBITINA (Lye-Bih-Tee'-Nah; Female): Another beautiful Latin name. Unfortunately Libitina was the goddess of funerals. But why should that stop you from naming your cat after her? I doubt anyone is around who remembers.

MAIA (May'-Ah; Female): Fertility goddess for which the month of May was named. Appropriately enough, her festival was observed on the first of that month-May Day; a holiday that is celebrated even now in some places. Actually, this unusual holiday has a rather macabre history. It all started innocently. To the Romans it was nothing more than a floral festival commemorating the Springtime return of vegetation. Young girls would make garlands out of flowers and distribute them throughout the city of Rome, hanging them on any and every door they came upon. Centuries later, after Rome had adopted Christianity as the state religion, the garlands remained part of the celebrations only now they were believed to protect homes from the forces of evil that were thought to run rampant on that day. Now why would the early Christians think that evil spirits would come out on such a sweet holiday as May Day? Because they had become familiar with a Celtic holiday called Beltane, also celebrated on May first. Beltane was a pagan festival celebrating the beginning of Celtic summer. The festival began on the eve of May first with a holiday known as Walpurgisnacht. On that night, witches observed their greatest Sabbath when they were said to be given fresh new powers for the coming year. The next night, during the celebrations of Beltane, huge bonfires were lit, animal sacrifices were made, and straw men were ceremoniously set ablaze. With all this wild activity taking place in various reaches of the empire, naturally the Christians were concerned. And so, like the good Christians they were, they decided to beat the pagans at their own game. Thus May Day became a holiday set aside for the burning of witches. Remember that next time you see a ribbon laden Maypole. If you name your kitty after Maia, just keep in mind the bizarre way her lovely holiday was twisted around. If your cat happens to be a familiar spirit, perhaps this name will delight her with the overdue satisfaction of getting the last laugh over those fanatics of long ago.

MARS (Mahrz; Male; See Greek god ARES): Julius Caesar should have listened to that old soothsayer who warned him to "beware the Ides of March." About the most hazardous time of the year during the reign of the Roman Empire was the month of March, named for this god of war and retribution. Since March was the month of one of Mars' festivals, sacrifices were made to him the whole month long. This had the tendency of whipping the population into violence and war frenzy whether it was called for or not. March 14th, the famous Ides of March, turned out to be quite hazardous indeed for the ambitious Caesar. On that date in the year 44 B.C. he was assassinated by Brutus, Cassius, and other conspiratorial members of the Roman Senate because they believed he was getting too big for his britches. This poorly thought out deed plunged Rome (which was at that time still a Republic) into a horrible civil war between the forces of Brutus and the combined armies of Marc Antony and Octavian. Brutus was defeated, but then Antony and Octavian began fighting. Finally, in the year 31 B.C. after 13 years of civil war, Octavian defeated Antony and his new ally/lover Cleopatra during the naval the battle at Actium. This spelled the end of the Roman Republic and initiated the long line of Roman Emperors beginning with Octavian who took the name Caesar Augustus. See what happens when Mars feels like flexing his muscles a bit? Obviously if your cat takes great joy in disturbing the peace, picking fights with any other cat that happens by, then he's an ideal candidate for assuming the name of this vengeful god.

MERCURY (Mer'-Kyoo-Ree; Male; See Greek god HERMES): Identical in nearly every way to the Greek god, with one alarming addition. For some reason the Romans decided that their god Mercury should carry around a purse. Actually it's not as bad as it sounds. The purse was to symbolize the world of commerce since Mercury was the god of merchants, as well as of all the mystical stuff attributed to Hermes. If you had good reason for naming your cat then you'll have just as good a reason for naming him Mercury.

MINERVA (Min-Er'-Vah; Female. See Greek god ATHENE): Like her Greek parallel, Minerva was a goddess of war, and another virgin as well. She was considered highly intelligent and because of this she was thought of as the ruler of music, the written word, arts and craftsmanship, and overall wisdom. Like the Greek Athene, owls were considered sacred to Minerva, representing wisdom. She was a very wise warrior, respected by the Roman Legions. Her celebration was held concurrently with the five day festivities to Mars, always during the Spring Equinox. She was also the guardian of women's rights, just like her Greek "sister", so here is another appropriate name for your liberated cat.

NEPTUNE (Nep'-Toon; Male. See Greek god POSEIDON): One good thing about knowing the dates on which the gods were celebrated with festivals and honors is that you can celebrate your cat's birthday on these days, if you don't happen to know their birthday already. Neptune was honored on July 23 during a holiday called, what else? The Neptunalia. At first the Romans paid little attention to him, calling on him mostly to protect against drought. They didn't see much reason for calling upon him for anything else since early in the development of Roman society, seafaring matters were of little concern. However, surrounded by such maritime powers as Carthage and Phoenicia, it didn't take long for them to realize that they needed a naval force and a mighty one. Neptune was quickly adopted as their commanding deity and supreme god of the seas. By acknowledging this god, the Romans believed they were under divine protection, legitimizing all they conquered for their own. As with Poseidon, giving a cat the name Neptune works well if he happens to be fond of baths or water in general.

PICUS (Pie'-Cuss; Male) His name means 'woodpecker.' He was a woodpecker. But, Picus and his fellow woodpeckers were considered sacred to Mars. Besides being favored by the god of war, Picus was also a god of agriculture and a bird of augury. Indeed, Picus played a crucial role in the earliest days of Roman development for it was he who brought food to the wolf-suckled babes Romulus and Remus, who both grew up to become the founders of Rome. This is why Mars holds this humble and generous woodpecker in such high esteem. See, Romulus and Remus were the sons of Mars, taken from him when they were mere infants and left to die along the banks of the river Tiber. For his vigilance, Picus was honored and respected by Mars. You really have to use your imagination on this one, but I can see naming a helpful and selflessly generous kitty after this humble but immeasurably important god and friend to Mars.

PLUTO (Ploo'-Toh, Male. See Greek god HADES): This name almost didn't find its way into this book. I mean, who's going to name their cat Pluto, which to most people is reminiscent of that animated dog? The nice people at Disney seem to have made it their own, but if you ask me, that raises more questions than it answers. Why would a family entertainment studio, known for its sweet children's cartoons, deliberately name one of their more popular characters after the god of death and the underworld? True, Pluto was also the god of riches, but that doesn't make sense either. Sure, the cartoon studio is wealthy, but isn't it odd the only character with a mythological name glorifies the god of shadows? Oh well, fat chance anyone is going to name their cat Pluto. If your cat fits this dark personality, call him the Greek Hades instead. Hell, even the Romans didn't like Pluto, so why should anyone else?

PROSERPINA (Prahs-Er-Pee'-Nah, Female. See Greek goddess PERSEPHONE): Since the Roman Proserpina is related to the Greek goddess Persephone, you've probably already guessed that she was none other than the Underworld consort to Pluto just as Persephone was to Hades. You're right. Personally I think Proserpina is one of the prettiest in the whole book, so don't let her reputation keep you from naming your sweetheart cat after this goddess of the seasons, primarily; goddess of the Underworld only begrudgingly.

SATURN (Sa'-Tern; Male. See Greek god CRONUS): Some cats like to party. Of course, they party a bit differently than we do, but most cats are known to let go every so often. To the Romans, Saturn was, among other things, Old Man Time, Granddaddy of the gods, giver of plenitude, and a god that knew how to have a good time. His famous festival was called the Saturnalia. Beginning on December 17, right around the time of the Winter Solstice, this celebration went on for 12 days. During this wild holiday, all rules were suspended. Slaves were free and masters were slaves. There was eating and drinking and licentious behavior as was to be expected from the Romans. Believe it or not, given the winter season, many Christmas traditions we cherish today originated during this Roman madness. The distribution of candies and treats, the exchange of presents, giving toys to children, even the 12 days of Christmas got its start here, though many, many years later of course. All things considered, perhaps the best reason to give your cat this name is if he's one to keep a close and silent watch over the passage of time as if he were an official caretaker. Then again, if he's a real (excuss the pun) party animal, name him after this prosperous god especially is you plan to observe his birthday around Christmas time.

SILVANUS (Sill-Vay'-Nuhs; Male): Some sources identify this Roman god of the wildness with the Greek god PAN, but most accounts are in conflict. There are several similarities however. Silvanus loved the outdoors. In fact, he'd rather be in the forests than just about anywhere else. One reason for this attraction to dark overgrown wilderness was his love of scaring unsuspecting travelers. To the Romans he was more or less a symbol of the unknown dangers that the dense unexplored hinterlands contained. All I've got to say is that cats will often take delight in surprising who ever come along a little too close to their hiding place. By studying my cat closely, I am convinced that she enjoys startling those inconsiderate people who refuse to respect another creatures abode, namely hers. Attacking their ankles and legs when they tread too close to her sanctuary gives her a smug look of satisfaction that I'm sure Silvanus would relate to.

VENUS (Vee'-Nuhs; Female. See Greek goddess APHRODITE): As we've seen, the Roman's had thought of their gods as something close to personifications of abstract ideas or qualities. To the Greeks, the gods reflected the deep and eternal follies of human nature. For example, the Greeks revered Aphrodite as the absolute force within the universe that caused humanity to succumb to loving or lustful passions and desires. But to the Romans, after changing her name to Venus, she became little more than a figure of superstition. While Venus still ruled love and passion, she was rather aloof and cold. Her temples in Rome were centers of sexual acts, but more on the level of wanton prostitution than the exalted expression of sacred sexuality as practiced by the Greeks. All the same, Venus is a name that conjures up true beauty, grace, and love in all its wonderful manifestations. Since there are many beautiful kitties around with an affinity toward the night sky, naming her after that brilliant star-like object, the planet named for the goddess Venus, will no doubt please her immensely.

VESTA (Veh'-Stah, Female): This fire goddess might remind you of the Greek HESTIA since they both emphasized the stabilizing influence of a well tended fire. But unlike the Greek goddess, Vesta not only kept watch over the domestic fires of the Roman citizens, she also personified the sacred flame of Rome. Perpetually burning in a temple near the Forum, the ever blazing fire was carefully tended to by young women chosen for the task of maintaining the flame. These "Vestal Virgins" were to remain within the confines of the temple for a period of thirty years, all the while remaining chaste. Their job was considered most important since it was believed that should the flame go out, the fall of Rome was imminent. So if you're cat takes special pride in keeping the household flame warm and glowing (both literally and metaphorically) her thoughtful concern more than likely is coming from the influence of Vesta herself. Her festival (called the Vestalia) was observed on June 7.

VICTORIA(Vic-Tor'-Ee-Ah; Female. See Greek goddess NIKE): There wasn't much to say about Nike and there's even less to say about this minor Roman knock-off. As you might suspect, Victoria was the goddess of (surprise!) victory. Is your cat a winner? Well then here's your name.

VULCAN (Vul'-Kan; Male. See Greek god HEPHAESTUS): There are a few things about Vulcan that are marginally amusing. For starters, he looked a little strange. He wore a kind of threadbare goatee, an embarrassingly short tunic, and a ridiculous hat. Being the god of volcanoes and fire, he could get away with his appearance. Apparently he was one mean god. To appease him, he was given three festivals and all in the month of August. They were: 17th - the Portunalia; 23rd - the Vulcanalia; and 27th - the Volturnalia. He was said to be extremely volatile, but he could be fair. Some say he was an excellent craftsman and was especially adept at fashioning exquisite jewelry. Others say he couldn't fashion anything other than thunderbolts. Whatever the case, he was moody and temperamental. Sound like your cat? If so Vulcan might suit him in a way no other name could.

Nativa American Cat Names

No one knows for certain but it is suspected that Native Americans (erroneously called "Indians" by some, and all due to an error on the part of Christopher Columbus), migrated to North America across the Bering Strait around 12,000 years ago. From Alaska all the way down to Tierra del Fuego in South America, these people settled and formed a variety of diverse tribal cultures. Just a few of the North American tribes were: Apaches; Navaho; Innuit (or Eskimo); Cherokee; Mohawk; Hopi; and Comanche, just to name a few. Each tribe had a unique set of legends and religious observations, but one common trait existed in each of these cultures-all felt an intense spiritual connection to the earth and the animals that they encountered on a daily basis. To the Native Americans all things, both living and inanimate, deserved respect, for the Great Spirit itself existed in each and every manifestation of the mother earth. Because of their unconditional love for the land, some tribes refrained from making any decision at all without first considering how this decision might effect the welfare of their people seven generations hence. Too bad our society didn't learn the importance of this perspective. The wild cats that Native Americans would most likely have been familiar with were, Bobcats; Canadian Lynx; and, of course, the formidable Puma (also known as the Mountain Lion). Like all our chapters, the names selected here are by no means intended to comprehensively represent all of the many indigenous people of North America. You'll find a modest variety of tribes, but the real concern, as always, is all in the name.

AKNA (AHK-nah; Female): If your cat is an especially attentive mother, always keeping a watchful gaze of concern on her restless kittens, you might want to consider this name.To the Eskimos, Akna was the goddess of motherhood (in fact her name means, "Mother.")

COYOTE (k'eye-OH-tee; Male): All right, fat chance anyone is going to name their cat after another creature altogether, especially a dog-like creature like Coyote. But Coyote was such an important Being to several Native American tribes that to omit him would be foolish. Coyote was one of those tricksters that are found in several world mythologies, in fact very close in temperament and deed to Loki of the Norse pantheon. Most cultures consider the trickster a troublesome, even dangerous Being. Even so the trickster was highly respected, especially Coyote of the Native Americans. After all, it was the job of the trickster to cause confusion, havoc and trouble, but only as a reminder to humanity that we're not so smart and in control as we'd like to think we are. I doubt anyone will use this name for their cat, but watch out. Just because the name Coyote might not be appropriate for your cat doesn't mean he hasn't got a bit of the trickster just waiting inside for the right time to raise hell.

HINO (HIH-noh; Male): You might say that the Iroquois sky god and thunder spirit Hino was sort of a parallel to the Greek god of the heavens, Zeus. Whereas Zeus had an inexhaustible supply of thunderbolts to toss about whenever he got upset, Hino had fire arrows which he used for much the same reason. There were differences. Zeus was pretty amoral, which I suppose is one of the perks you get when you're king of the gods. Hino on the other hand wasn't the all powerful leader of the spirits. Far from being morally ambiguous, Hino was an indefatigable champion of good. Many an evil adversary experienced first hand the destructive force behind those lethal fire arrows. Guardian of humankind, Hino might be an appropriate name for a virtuous feline with a fearless protective streak.

MANITOU (MAN-ih-too; Male or Female): To the Algonquin tribes all things possessed a sacred entity, actually an individual parcel of the one sacred entity. Rivers, rocks, trees, deer, people, rain, wind, you name it-everything inherently contained deep within its form a unique spirit all its own. This spirit was called a Manitou. The Algonquin believed that through sincere effort, one could know the Manitou of any thing they wished. This, however, was not an easy task and for the most part this chore was left to the shaman. This is one of those "one-name-fits-all" entries, suitable for just about any cat, but is especially apt for a cat whose very nature exemplifies that universal quality of "catness."

MICHABO (MICH-ah-boh; Male) Remember that horrible old song called "Muskrat Love?" If not, you should count yourself among the truly fortunate. Those of us cursed with a twisted recollection of this pop monstrosity must forever contend with mental images of amorous muskrats "doing what comes naturally." One really has to wonder. I mean, what kind of disturbed screwball would even entertain the notion of writing a Top-40 song about two muskrats screwing? Which brings us to the Algonquin god, Michabo. This god's name means "Great Hare." To the Algonquin tribes, Michabo was the creator of all humanity. And how did he accomplish this prodigious feat? Why, by copulating with a muskrat of course. Michabo also created the earth (where else was he going to put the human/muskrat hybrids?), as well as water, fish, deer and just about everything else. Perhaps Michabo's most formidable power was his shape-shifting ability. He could turn himself into any animal at all, even cats I would imagine. So, should you have a cat with "a thing" for rodents (muskrats in particular) maybe it's really just Michabo out looking to sew a few more of his wild oats.

NAPI (NAH-pee; Male): Have you adopted an elderly cat? If so, this might be a good name to give him since it means "Old Man." To the Blackfoot tribe, Napi was the creator god. According to one of the Blackfoot myths, Napi formed the earth and from this earth he made a woman, complete with a son already born. The woman was absolutely delighted with this thing called existence and she questioned the god Napi as to whether this experience would go on forever or if it would all come to an end one day. This inquiry came as a surprise to Napi since he hadn't really considered the matter. Now just as curious as the woman, Napi decided upon a method of finding out the answer to this important question. The god would throw some dried buffalo dung into a river and if the dung floated, then human beings would eventually have to die. But this death would only last a period of four days. After the passage of four days the person would be born anew. However, if the dung sank, well then once you died, you'd stay dead. Napi carried out his plan and was happy to discover that the buffalo dung floated. You would think that this would please the woman, but she remained doubtful. She insisted that the whole experiment be tried again but this time SHE wanted to be the one to toss an object of her own choosing into the river. Napi let her have her way since he created her with an independent nature. The woman picked a large rock and announced that if it floated then people would never have to die, not even for four days. If it sank, then dead was dead.Needless to say the rock sank.

NOKOMIS (noh-KOH-miss; Female): Just as Napi might be a good name for an elderly male cat, the name Nokomis (meaning "Grandmother") might suit an elderly female cat. Nokomis was the Algonquin earth goddess. It was her responsibility to feed all the world's living things, even plants. According to the poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Nokomis fell to earth and gave birth to a girl named Wenonah, who grew to become the wife of Hiawatha.

ONATHA (oh-NAH-tha; Female): Many of the details found in the myths featuring this Iroquois wheat goddess are remarkably similar to incidents in the story of the Greek goddess Persephone. First, both were agricultural deities and daughters of the primary mother goddess (Demeter for the Greeks; Eithinoha for the Iroquois.) Secondly, both were abducted by the Underworld god (actually more like a demon according to the Iroquois stories; Hades, of course, in the Greek tales.) The Iroquois legends tell us that after the abduction of Onatha, the sun searched nonstop for the missing goddess, radiating warmth upon the land for weeks on end. This sun induced heat wave managed to free Onatha from her Underworld prison by drawing her up through the earth, whereupon she rose from the ground like the wheat she represented. To me it's obvious that this name should go to one of those felines of the sunbathing variety.

PAH (PAH; Male): Why do I like this name? Because it's so simple? No. Is it because it has a sort of affectionate ring to it? Hardly. I like this name because it reminds me of a comic book sound effect of disgust. You know, like in Superman when Perry White, Editor of 'The Daily Planet', looses his temper because of some screw-up by Jimmy or Lois, causing him to slam the door to his office while muttering something like "Pah!" under his breath. In reality Pah was the moon god of the Pawnee tribes. If you like this name for your cat, you might also consider a few other similar names like "Zap", "Pow", "Gasp", and "F'tang."

PUKKEENEGAK (poo-KEE-neh-gack; Female): If your cat happens to have exceptionally colorful fur bearing fastidiously symmetrical patterns, consider the Eskimo goddess Pukkeenegak. Besides being the goddess of childbirth, Pukkeenegak was also the goddess of clothing. She was always portrayed in fine garments and was something of a fashion icon, not unlike the super models of today. The elaborate designs tattooed on her face only added to her striking beauty, much like the cosmetics that highlight the faces of stylish women. The loveliness of Pukkeenegak was a refreshing change of pace for the Eskimo culture. After all, these people were rough and tough hunters struggling to survive in a harsh environment. This left little time for pure beauty for beauty's sake. But Pukkeenegak wasn't so removed from daily Eskimo life that she ignored local customs. She lived as the Eskimos did, worked and played as they did, even ate as they did. If you can imagine Cindy Crawford gobbling down handfuls of walrus blubber, you've got a pretty good idea of how Pukkeenegak was thought of (well, perhaps that is a bit of an exaggeration). Good name for a beautiful and photogenic cat.

SEDNA (SEED-nah; Female): Does your cat hold a grudge? If so, consider the story of this extremely complex goddess. She too was of the Eskimo pantheon, but whereas Pukkeenegak was beautiful, Sedna was repulsive. She was the goddess of the ocean and all its creatures. Everyone was frightened of Sedna, due in large part to her hideous appearence-she was said to be a horrible one-eyed giant. But there was a time when Sedna was a beautiful young woman. Men from far off villages would come to court her, but she was a proud and haughty maiden and would have nothing to do with her gentleman callers. That is, until the fateful day a strange but extremely handsome young hunter came into the village. Sedna found herself quite attracted to this odd hunter. Blinded by his good looks, Sedna let her guard down and allowed the young man's words of love convince her that they should be married. The wedding took place just as soon as possible after which Sedna was promptly whisked far away by her new husband. That night Sedna learned an appalling truth. The beautiful young man she married wasn't a man at all. He was in fact a Kokksaut, that is, a supernatural Being, in this case a terrible bird-spirit. He had been quite taken by Sedna's charms so he donned the appearance of a human male that he might woo her. Now Sedna's father eventually found out about this deception and he became filled with anger, not only for the trick played upon his daughter but for the shame this set of circumstances brought upon his good name. After much difficulty the father managed to recover Sedna from the clutches of her otherworldly husband. Using a small stalwart kayak, father and daughter tried desperately to escape, but such an attempt was futile against the supernatural powers of the spirit world. The frightful bird-spirit, demonic in his tendencies, transformed back into his true form, let out a bloodcurdling scream and soon caught up to the poor little kayak bearing Sedna and her father. Flapping his giant black wings furiously, the bird-spirit brought forth dark storm clouds. The sea itself churned and seethed. So terrified was Sedna's father at the horrible sight of this wicked spirit and of the mighty storm that blackened the sky. Massive waves battered the kayak and both Sedna and her father feared for their lives. But Sedna's father was a cowardly and selfish man. He reasoned that his daughter was the cause of this disgraceful situation, and as such he decided that if anyone was going to die it would be Sedna. Taking the hysterical young girl in his arms, Sedna's father threw her into the tumultuous sea hoping that this sacrifice might placate the awful spirit. The piteous Sedna struggled hopelessly in the boiling ocean, and in a last ditch effort to save herself from the dire fate that awaited her, she found the strength to cling tightly to the side of the kayak. The storm grew more and more fierce, filling Sedna's father with absolute terror. Crazed by fear, he grabbed his walrus-ivory ax and began hacking away at his daughters hands. Chopping away her fingers, then her knuckles, then the remaining portions of her hands, the chunks of bloody flesh sank into the ocean. Sedna too was devoured by the waters. Then suddenly the storm ceased, followed by an unnatural calm. As the fragments of her severed hands submerged into the watery depths they transmogrified into whales, seals, walruses and the various other creatures of the deep. Stunned out of his senses but relieved, Sedna's father made his way back to the village where he began to feel pretty good about himself, his deed and his restored honor. That night he slept a deep and unnatural sleep. You see, Sedna had become the goddess of the ocean and she placed a spell upon her one time father. And what a dark vindictive goddess she had become. Sedna caused the sea to flood her father's village as he slept, washing away all traces of the settlement and pulling him down into her vast watery kingdom. Needless to say, their reunion was not a pleasant one. It was this sort of bitterness that changed her appearance from youthful beauty to gargantuan monstrosity. Deep in her underwater realm named Adliden she ruled with cruelty. Here in Adliden the souls of the dead were taken to pay for their sins, which is one reason why everyone was so terrified of Sedna. Nevertheless, Eskimo shamans came to her without fear and requested her assistance in hunting seals and other sea creatures that the tribes were so dependent upon for survival. What better name for a mean and vengeful cat?

SHAKURU (shah-KOO-roo; Male): Often when a cat enthusiast becomes involved with a new trend or fad, they will somehow find a way to include their pampered kitties in the hoopla as well. Consider cat jewelry; designer clothing for cats; psychoanalytic therapy for cats; cat astrology, and so on ad nauseam. I suppose there are countless numbers of grateful felines relieved that the piercing trend hasn't extended its influence to these inclusive cat owners. Personally, I think that's a good thing. Could the world long endure leather clad S/M kitties with silver hoops fastened to their ears and through their noses? Actually there are statues crafted by the ancient Egyptians depicting bejeweled cats with earrings, so obviously the notion isn't as far fetched as one may think. Still, I think it best to leave bodily adornments and self mutilation to we humans. This brings us to the practices of the Plains Indians and the festival of Shakuru-mighty sun god of the Pawnee tribe. During this most important of all Pawnee festivals, young warriors (set on demonstrating their manhood) partook in the ceremonial Sun Dance. This famous ritual dance demanded bravery, strength, endurance, not to mention a strong stomach and a high tolerance to pain. What you would do (if you were a young Pawnee brave) is take a length of buffalo-hide rope and tie an end to one of the many towering poles that had been erected especially for the Sun Dance ceremony. At the other end of this hide rope you were supposed to secure pointy razor sharp dowels carved of wood, bone, or whatever else you could get your hands on that wouldn't break. Now the fun begins! As a Sun Dance participant you were expected to take this sharpened dowel and push it clean through the several layers of skin and muscle tissue covering the chest. Once this chore was accomplished the warrior was literally bound to his pole of choice by the buffalo-hide rope. But that was only the beginning. Now the actual "dance" part of the Sun Dance ritual came into play. Symbolically retracing the sun's circular movement, the warriors danced around the pole to the trance inducing rhythms of drums. As they danced they leaned the entirety of their weight against the ropes that penetrated their chest. This dance went on all day and (as far as the young warriors were concerened), only ended when the dowels at last tore through their flesh. Kind of makes a nose piercing look wimpy, doesn't it?

SPIDER WOMAN (Female): Now hear me out on this one. I know that most people are going to think you came by this name as a result of feminizing the moniker of a well known Marvel Comics super hero. But Spider Woman is actually the Navaho spirit of magic and charms. She was powerful, mysterious, and wise. No, she didn't possess "Spidey Sense" as a result of being bitten by a radioactive arachnid. Maybe it's just me, but I think this is a great name for a cat. Of course, if we're going to start making comic book references, we better just mention Cat Woman right here and now and get it over with. So, Spider Woman or Cat Woman? I guess in the end it all comes down to maintaining one's childhood loyalties, i.e., Marvel comics or DC? TIRAWA (TEER-ah-wah; Male): Tirawa was the Pawnee god of the sky and all creation; the number one honcho, like Zeus to the ancient Greeks. One day Tirawa informed his beautiful goddess wife Atira that he intended to make a creature called man. He even decided upon the environment he would create in which this new creature might live. He described a circular world surrounded at the edges by deep blue skies. By his will, these humans and their world came to be. Taking his wife to the peak of the highest of all mountains Tirawa showed her the vast expanse of the earth and, true to his word, the land was indeed surrounded at the edges by a mighty blue firmament. Atop this mountain Tirawa announced to the rest of the gods that he created a being called man and that he would require their assistance in order to maintain this world. To sweeten the deal he promised them all a portion of his own powers so they could carry out the various new duties that were going to be required. So Shakuru was designated sun god; Pah became god of the moon; to the west Tirawa placed the evening star and gave her the title "Mother of All Things", while in the east the morning star was positioned as a guardian soldier. To the north Tirawa set the Pole star and in the south he put the Death Star. When these and several other stars were finally placed in their proper locations, the great Tirawa commanded these brilliant stars to sing the songs of creation. This they did and as their songs resonated through the universe, the oceans and hills, the mountains and grasslands, the trees, flowers, rivers, and clouds took shape. And then Shakuru the sun and Pah the moon made love producing a son. Likewise did the evening and morning star mate, bringing into the world a daughter as a result of this union. Then Tirawa instructed the force known as lightening to decorate the night sky with constellations (all of which were kept in a sack filled with tempestuous storms). As lightening went about this task, a sneaky and mischievous star called "Coyote-Deceiver" ordered Wolf to take possession of this sack. Wolf did as he was told and per his instructions he opened the sack releasing at once all the powerful storms in one fell swoop. This was a big, big mistake which even Wwolf realized, but unfortunately it was too late. For you see, Death itself escaped from that sack of storms and swiftly fled into the new world taking Wolf as his first victim. From that point on death has lurked silently among all aspects of the world. Anyway, Tirawa sent the son and daughter of the sun and moon and the morning and evening stars down to the earth and taught them many things. For example, they learned how to make fire; how to work the land for nourishment; they learned the art of language; the importance of rituals and religion; they were taught to honor life and of their unity with all things. As the days passed, month after month, year after year, many of the other stars that filled the heavens brought forth children and sent them to earth. These people, born of the stars, formed a tribe with the very first son and daughter respected as their chiefs. This tribe, filled with wisdom originating right from the ultimate source, were, of course, the Pawnee. Sure, a nice story and all, but Tirawa as a cat name? Well why not? The name fits a lordly cat, a creative cat, a dominant cat; hell, it fits most ANY cat...

TOOTEGA (too-TAY-gah; Female): I don't want to sound disrespectful but the Eskimo goddess Tootega (depicted as a little old lady who lived in a tiny stone domicile situated on a remote island) and Jesus Christ had at least ONE thing in common: They both felt right at home walking around on water. But whereas Jesus only displayed this extraordinary talent once that we know of, Tootega took to this practice whenever she pleased. No canoes, kayaks, or boats of any kind for this old gal-no siree. I suspect that, like cats, she hated getting wet. Got a cat that absolutely despises water? (And who doesn't.) Then here's a name tailor made. So just what was it that Tootega was goddess of? Good grief, she walked on water for crying-out-loud! That's not enough? What more do you people want?

Nordic Cat Names

The ancient people of Northern Europe (often referred to as the Teutons) left very few written documents. Consequently, little is known of the origins of Scandinavian mythology. We do know that the German speaking tribes which flourished in central Europe began to spread northward around the time of Rome's fall. Some tribes settled in those areas now called Sweden, Norway, Denmark, making it as far as Russia and even the southeast of England. In time the Vikings of Norway spread Teutonic culture to distant Iceland. These fierce Norsemen influenced their part of the world through what amounted to a reign of terror, raiding and pillaging village after village with indefatigable might. Rather than write out their legends and sagas, the Vikings maintained an oral tradition entrusting storytelling poets known as skalds with the preservation of their myths. It wasn't until Christianity had been firmly instituted in the Scandinavia (11th century) that these tales were set down in writing. Most all we know of these unique myths comes from medieval scholars dedicated to preserving their Teutonic heritage in massive epics. Many of these epics feature an entity known as "The World Serpent". In keeping with the subject matter of this book it is interesting to note that the World Serpent often took on the appearance of a gray cat. Clearly cats were of major importance to the Nordic cultures. This fact is also apparent in tales of the love goddess Freya who took the cat as her symbol and was depicted as traveling in a chariot drawn by two enormous black cats. Here then is a list of Nordic-Germanic gods for your consideration. If you don't find a name here that you like for your cat but you still want a connection to Northern European culture, you can always fall back on the ever reliable appellation, "Sven".

ALFHEIM (AHLF-high'm; Male/Female): Alfheim was not a deity but a place located far beyond the realm of the gods (a world called Asgard as any Jack Kirby fan will tell you). So why would you want to name your cat after a mythological province? Besides having a nice ring to it, Alfheim was believed to be the kingdom of the "fair-haired elves"-beings associated with the sun. Our flimsy cat connection comes from the method in which these solar gremlins were honored. All over Northern Europe, people would pour libations of fresh milk upon sacred stones and mounds that were said to be the haunts of these towheaded imps. Not the strongest association, I'll admit, but at least the name serves that important "all purpose" duty.

ANDVARI (ahnd-VAHR-ee; Male): I'll make this quick...Andvari was a dwarf from whom Loki (god of mischief) stole a golden ring that was to later ruin a great hero by the name of Sigurd (a.k.a. Siegfried according to traditions in medieval Germany). Got an unusually small cat? Then name him after the dwarf, Andvari.

BALDUR (BAHL-der; Male): The Vikings believed in a universal principle of fate which they called "Wyrd" (you're on your own with that one). All things were said to be subject to this principle, gods included. One god that seemed to be above the hand of fate was Baldur-son of Odin and Frigg, King and Queen of the gods. Baldur was known as "the handsome" and was as discerning as he was good-looking. His apparent invincibility was due to his mother's insistence that each and every "thing" in the universe should take an oath to never harm him. All "things" did just that...all except the plant, mistletoe (everyone thought mistletoe was too immature to be a threat). Baldur was a very popular god, so much so that he married the earth goddess, Nanna. Life was pleasant for this mighty god; he had it all-important family, good looks, intelligence, strength, a lovely wife-what more could he ask for? Enter Loki, god of mischief. Loki didn't like the idea of anyone or anything being exempt from the whims of fate, so he went to Baldur's old rival for Nanna's affections, the blind god of winter, Hoder. Loki convinced Hoder that it would be great sport to hurl a twig of mistletoe at Baldur. How anyone could be so easily entertained is a mystery, but Hoder went along with the game. Allowing devious Loki to guide his hand, the blind god threw the mistletoe at Baldur. The javelin-like twig scored a direct hit, impaling Baldur and, since mistletoe hadn't sworn to refrain from hurting Baldur, the wound killed him instantly. This horrible catastrophe, complements of Loki, taught the gods a harsh lesson: No one escapes the currents of fate. Nevertheless, Baldur was insuperable for a while anyway, making his name suitable for a gorgeous cat, wise in his ways, who seems to be unconquerable in all his feline battles.

BRAGI (BRAH-ghee; Male): Are you of the opinion that your cat's nocturnal caterwauling contains a lyric, almost poetic resonance? If you think you're living with the Lord Byron of the feline kingdom, the name Bragi (god of poetry) makes an excellent choice. Just promise you'll keep him away from coffeehouses...

DONAR (DAHN-er; Male): Precursor to the hammer wielding Thor, Donar was the original god of thunder. A clear-cut name for a tempestuous cat.

ELLI (EH-lee; Female): Here's a name that might fit a brave female cat, perhaps a bit advanced in years but strong all the same. According to the story, Elli challenged Thor to a wrestling match. Thor was quite amused that a woman should have the audacity to challenge his might, so he agreed to the contest, planning to teach her a lesson that she wouldn't soon forget. But it was Elli who did the teaching that day. After several grueling attempts at knocking her off her feet, Thor was forced to admit defeat. Not only was he unable to move her, but Elli actually brought the god down upon one of his knees. Thor was stunned out of his wits. Naturally he wished to know the secret of his opponent's name. And Elli told him. She was the personification of old age.

FREYJA (FRAY-yah; Female): Cats are horny little critters as any cat owner knows only too well. Unless your cat has been fixed you're going to have to put up with some pretty annoying behavior. Since cats are such hyper-sexual creatures it makes perfect sense to name them after the deities of the Vanir family; fine old Norse clan of fertility gods. Freyja was the daughter of Njord, god of the sea. Like her counterparts, Aphrodite, Isis, Venus, and Ishtar, she concerned herself with sex and all that goes with it. She was quite fond of cats, by the way. In fact, she was said to travel about in a magnificent chariot drawn by her two regal cats named Bygul and Trjegul (Pronunciation? You're on your own...) Even many of her personal traits seem cat-like. For instance, she always wore a brilliant jewel studded collar symbolizing her authority over the fiery aspect of sexuality. Freyja was also skilled in a form of magic called "seithr" (meaning "sayer" or "seer") which consisted of putting oneself into a deep meditative trance so that the secrets of the future might be revealed. But not everything under her jurisdiction was of a feline quality. For some reason she is also the goddess presiding over a horse cult that practiced a magic said to transform women into horses so they could indulge in wanton sexual escapades. Goddess of love, cats, the moon, magic, and of course sex, Frejya makes a fine name for any female cat. If, however, you happen to have a male cat, why not try-

FREYR (FRAY-er; Male): Freyja's twin brother. According to the stories they tell about him, Freyr (the #1 god of fertility), was one perverse fellow. On the surface he seemed okay, providing the life giving forces of sunlight and rainfall. He was also the bringer of peace and happiness. However, his cult engaged in wild rituals wherein the men would all dress in women's clothing for a night of crazed dancing. They would carry on with this revelry for the entire evening. The climax of the ceremony was none other than a good old fashioned human sacrifice performed by the frenzied men in drag. Like his sister, Freyr was also associated with horses. It was customary to dedicate horses to his various shrines where they were housed just in case the god should ever be in the area, in need of a ride. And pity the fool who would take one of these horses for his own use. One legend known as "Hrafnkell's Saga" tells of the death and misfortune that comes to men who choose to steal a horse dedicated to Freyr.

FRIGG (FRIGG; Female): Yes, you read correctly-Frigg. I can think of a few reasons to call your cat Frigg, but we won't go into those reasons here. You may recall that Frigg, wife of Odin (the King of the Aesir gods), was the mother of the unfortunate Baldur. Since she was Queen of the Aesir gods (the Aesir were the family of gods established by Odin and engaged in a bitter feud with the Vanir gods), she was naturally quite powerful. Indeed, she was a cunning shape-shifter and possessed magical powers that enabled her to see all things past, present, and future. Frigg, like Freyja, was also a fertility goddess, a fact made evident by her adulterous promiscuity that involved taking her husband's brothers, Vili and Ve, as lovers. No act of trickery was considered too extreme if it meant getting her own way. Unfortunatly she wasn't as tricky as Loki. When Frigg demanded oaths from all living things to not bring harm upon her son, Baldur, she ignored mistletoe since she believed it was too young and insignificant to matter. Loki discovered this oversight by disguising himself as a woman and initiating a spirited conversation in which Frigg foolishly spilled the beans. Loki wasted no time in using this information to orchestrate Baldur's demise. The lesson here is that no one is easier to trick than a trickster.

HEIMDALL (HIGH'M-dahl; Male): Got a white cat? Got a white cat with an outstanding sense of hearing? Then Heimdall is the name for him. For starters he was known as "the white god." Since Heimdall was the guardian on watch at the "Bifrost Bridge" (the bridge that led to Asgard-land of the gods), his hearing was so keen that he could hear the grass and flowers growing up from the soil and the wool growing upon the sheep of the field. It is Heimdall who shall blow the horn "Gjallarhorn" signaling the beginning of "Ragnarok"-beginning of the end really since "Ragnarok" is the term given to the apocalypse of the Norse gods, the cataclysmic end of their reign; something the great composer of German opera, Richard Wagner called: "The Twilight of the Gods." HODER (HOE-der; Male): Hoder was once a great archer, that is, before he became blind. From that point on he became rather passive even though he was still the god of winter. It was Hoder who became the unwiting dupe in Loki's scheme to kill Baldur; a deplorable shame since Hoder was Baldur's brother-both of them son's of Odin and Frigg. I'd suggest you keep the name of this winter god in mind, should you happen to have a winter cat...though I'm hard pressed to think of just what a winter cat might be.

LOGI (LOW-ghee; Male): Some cats are voracious eaters, scarfing down their food before they have time to taste it. Sound familiar? If so you might want to consider naming him after Logi, the god of fire. Why? One tale describes an eating contest between Logi and the trickster god, Loki. For the most part Loki held his own, devouring his grub swiftly enough, but he was no match for Logi. In mere seconds Logi consumed his food, the leftover bones, the plates, and at last the table itself. Of course all this made sense considering that Logi was FIRE! Needless to say, Loki wasn't too pleased since he was usually the trickster, not the trickee.

LOKI (LOW-kee; Male): By now you should have gathered that Loki the trickster god was vitally important among the Norse gods. He was the most colorful and interesting of them all. He seems to pop up in nearly every story. Frankly, his presence is what makes most of the Norse myths intriguing. But that is the job of the trickster-stirring up unforeseen obstacles and stumbling blocks just so no one takes too much for granted. Among Loki's many exploits were: assisting Odin in the creation of the world of human beings, as well the world of the gods called Asgard; shaving off the beautiful golden hair of the goddess Sif for no good reason; and hiding the sacred apples that provided the gods with immortality. Eventually the gods grew tired of his nonsense so they captured him and chained him to a rock above which a giant snake dripped poisonous venom into his eyes. A bit harsh perhaps, but you can't say he didn't ask for it. An easy name to pronounce and remember for your mischievous feline friend.

MIMIR (MY-mer; Male): In Norse mythology there is a fantastic tree called "Yggdrasil"-The World Tree. This cosmic tree binds together the nine worlds of the gods in a continuity that grows from the past, exists in the present, and continues to grow ever higher toward the future. It is the nourishing source for all life, both in spiritual matters as well as physical concerns. One of "Yggdrasil's" three prominent roots taps into the flowing spring of Mimir, the god of wisdom and guardian of the waters which were the very source of that wisdom. All who knew of this wonderful spring became obsessed with desire to drink from it. Even Odin himself sacrificed one of his eyes for the privilege of sipping from the waters of wisdom. Through a complicated series of events, Mimir somehow managed to enrage the Vanir gods who cut off his head, sending it back to their rivals the Aesir gods (Odin and the rest.) Odin realized the importance of Mimir, god of wisdom, so he cast a spell over the decapitated head which brought it to life. This enabled the head to speak in ghostly tones riddles containing cryptic words of hidden revelations. Obviously a name for a wise old cat.

NANNA (NAH-nah; Female): Nanna the Earth goddess was said to have been imported from the Middle East. Actually she was the cause of a nasty rivalry between the brothers Baldur and Hoder who both were smitten by her charms. In the end she decided to marry Badur. Turns out she was something of a docile goddess, faithful and comitted to her husband-so much so that she joined him upon his funneral pyre. Not exactlly the strong kind of character you'd expect from an earth goddess. But her selfless act of devotion to her husband illustrates a different kind of character strength. This name might well suit a sweet, quiet, and loving cat, devoted to the very end.

NJORD (nee-YORD; Male): Njord belonged to the Vanir family of gods who were perpetually feuding with that other family of gods, the Aesir. Njord was the god of the sea and of shipping also. This meant that he controlled the winds that determined whether a ship's voyage would be successful or not. As such he came to be thought of as the benefactor of wealth. He was also the father to Freyja and Freyr. Since part of the wealth he would often bestow upon mortals came in the form of abundant hauls of fish (what else from a sea god?) why not give this name to a seafood loving cat?

ODIN (OH-dihn; Male): King of the gods and number one honcho of the Aesir family, Odin was all wise, all seeing, and almighty. He was the very personification of authority, skilled in battle, and swift in administering justice. Along with his wife Frigg, Odin ruled from his magnificent hall of "Valhalla" located within the realm of Asgard, home to the deities. Valhalla was also the afterlife destination of brave and valiant mortal heroes who had fallen in battle. These dead heroes were whisked away from the bloody battlefield by Odin's elite force of armor clad female warriors called the Valkyries. Charging through the sky upon flying horses, these fierce women were not to be messed with. By and large Odin was an effective King. Of course he was not without his faults. By all accounts Odin was a selfish, aristocratic snob, famous for reneging on treaties, and prone to unpredictable bouts of extreme wrath. If your cat is something of a snob, self-centered and subject to mood swings, you might well consider naming him Odin. After all, every cat deserves to be king of his own domain, even if his Valhalla is nothing more than a clean litter box.

SIF (SIHF; Female): If your cat has beautiful fur, this name might be appropriate. Sif was the wife of the god Thor, and she was most well known for her lovely gold hair. That is until Loki decided it would be funny to shave her bald. Instead of getting the big laughs he thought he would, all Loki's prank managed to do was infuriate Thor who nearly cracked open the trickster god's head with the mighty hammer "Mjollnir". Loki promised to replace the hair, which he did. Sort of. By employing the skilled craftsmanship of a couple hard working elves an amazing wig with hair of real gold was created. What was even more astounding was the fact that this hair of pure gold would actually grow. That was just fine as far as everyone was concerned, so once again Loki weaseled out of some rather sticky consequences resulting from his actions.

THOR (THOR; Male): Originally called Donar, Thor was the powerful hammer wielding god of thunder. He was one of the most popular gods of the entire Norse pantheon, worshipped and honored even as Christianity began to spread. Thor was a giant of a god. His unkempt red hair and unruly beard only added to his ferocious countenance, but Thor was one of the good guys. He took it upon himself to act as a guardian and helper to the ordinary people. He was a true friend and honest companion, but when crossed he was capable of enacting terrible vengeance. It's well reported that Thor loved to eat. After all, a big and mighty god like that is bound to have a ravenous appetite. Should your cat possess an equally gluttonous personality, as well as a tough-guy demeanor, give him the name of this famous god. Just make sure he stays away from hammers.

TIWAZ (TEE-wahz; Male): If your cat is a "Courageous Cat", consider the name Tiwaz. This god of battle and warfare was one of those deities that demanded human sacrifice. Originally Tiwaz was worshipped as the almighty sky god, but in time he was replaced by the even mightier Odin. As the war god, Tiwaz gained the reputation of being the bravest of all the gods. Even after losing one of his hands while binding the wolf "Fenrir" (who shall remain bound in chains until the "Ragnarok" whereupon he shall break free and kill Odin) still, no other god could match the courage of Tiwaz. Today the English version of the name Tiwaz ("Tiu"), is preserved in the word "Tuesday".

WELAND (VAY-lahnd; Male): Like the Greek god Hephaestus, Weland was the god of blacksmiths and metal working. He was supremely accomplished in many different crafts, a wizard of creativity, if you will. Oh yeah, he was also the Prince of the Fairies. Should you decided to name your cat Weland, make sure you don't embarrass him with the fairy stuff.

WOTON (VOH-tahn; Male): Actually this is just a more Germanic name for Odin. In fact, this was the form of the name used by the composer Wagner in his 4 opera epic known as "The Ring Cycle".