Saturday, 29 December 2012

Whisper of the Sith (Work in Progress)

My next piece is about the Sith Cat, a fabled creature associated with the Fae Folk. These Cats were described as otherworldly beings, roaming the spirit world and realms of the fairy folk but could also manifest  in feline form. It was said to be good luck to see a Sith Cat and they were told to bring good fortune on those showing kindness. Those who mistreated cats were said to be cursed by the Sith so the Scottish villagers had many superstitions and beliefs around these mysterious creatures.

The Sith or Sidhe (Fae) Cat was recognised by its sleek black appearance and a white patch of fur on its chest. This reminded me a bit of the big cat sightings still being reported around Scotland to this day and although the Sith is a legend I had an encounter with a panther-like cat in the countryside around Milltimber around 8 years ago which left a big impression on me and have been interested in the mysterious big cat sightings ever since. I was thinking a lot about my experience when I started to draw this piece- whatever I saw held me totally entranced (although that's a whole other story)- Maybe this is how people felt when they came across the Sith.

Two main superstitions and stories interested me. The offering of milk or food to the Sith Cat was a tradition on Samhein (Halloween Night). This was said to bring good fortune and protect the home. It was thought unlucky not to honour the cat in this way. The Sith had associations with the wise women and witches of the day- It was said that a witch could change into a Sith Cat on 8 occasions but if she were to change to Sith for a ninth time then she would remain in feline form forever. Some reports suggest that this is where the saying that cats have nine lives came from and its always interesting to see the cross-overs between witchlore and fairylore which seem to be very intertwined. I cannot be sure but "A black cat crossing your path" is also seen as lucky here in Scotland and I like to think that is derived from the Sith cat tales- I will try to find out more as I work on this artwork.

I'm still working a lot on the initial drawing, the main elements are in place although my next stage is to change a fair bit of the background and add some more suggestion of a ritual taking place. Here are the initial sketches and a hint of the ink detail....          

The main story in the picture is of a witch performing a ritual to summon the Sith Cats

I wanted the cats to look slightly alien and otherworldly. My sense of whimsy wants them to have wings as a tribute to their fae roots.

Still much to change in the background here, but getting a sense of how I want the cats portrayed

Thank you to my friend Claire Wood for pointing me in the direction of the Sith Cat :)


  1. Hi there - I know I've not commented on here before, but I'm *loving* this blog...the stories are really interesting.
    It's so great to see these pictures in progress & I'm so glad you're showing them in bits & pieces.
    I love what you're doing with the people faces just now & of course, I love the cat wings <3

    1. Thank you very much Esther- Glad you are enjoying the progress pieces too :) I have done a teeny weeny bit on the inking today so might get another post up this evening xxx