Stirring the Brew: Underworld Crossings

Stirring the Brew: Underworld Crossings September 20, 2019

Someone once told me that on the Navajo reservation, people turn around and go the other way if the see a coyote, so that they will not cross the path the animal has just taken. If you are driving and a coyote crosses the road in front of you, or if you spot it when it might have just crossed the road, this means taking a long detour. Given the vastness of the reservation, and that there are few roads, this may mean going many hours out of your way just to avoid being crossed by Coyote.

Crossing a coyote’s trail is considered to bring bad luck. Photo by D. Carlton via freeimages.

My informant explained that crossing a coyote’s trail is considered to bring bad luck. He said that Navajos will say, if they’re having a run of bad luck, “I must’ve crossed a coyote’s path.” The way this works, apparently, is that the first person to cross a coyote’s footsteps after the animal has passed receives the bad luck. This is so even if the coyote went by days ago. So, people cross coyotes’ paths all the time without seeing any coyote.

Coyote is the trickster, and a dangerous, powerful energy. I have also been told (by a couple of different informants, including a Navajo) that it is taboo to tell Coyote stories, which are a key part of their lore, at any time of year other than winter (defined as between the first frost and the last–in Navajo land, this averages out to close to half of the year).

Hearing this about crossing Coyote gave me an insight as to the old black cat superstition. Everyone knows that if a black cat crosses your path, you get bad luck.

Everyone, that is, except anyone who’s ever had a black cat as a pet. Or simply run across one without having any particular downturn in luck.

It isn’t even a universal belief. In England, I’ve read, a black cat crossing your path is considered good luck.

Obviously, you’ll have both good luck and bad luck, just like always, when a black cat has crossed your path. Or a cat of a different color. Or a coyote. We could just chalk these stories up to confirmation bias.

But in both cases, there is a powerful root to the story. Hekate, goddess of the Underworld, has been said to sometimes visit our world in the guise of a black cat. So, if you meet one, it might be just a cat… or it might be Hekate.

For better or worse, your life will never be the same. Photo by Mateusz Piatkowski via freeimages.

If the goddess of the Underworld crosses your path, the energy of the Underworld has entered your life. It is a dangerous time. It is a time when the usual rules don’t apply.

In folklore, encounters with otherworldly beings can turn out disastrously. Or very, very well. It depends on how the hero/ine handles the challenge. What never happens is everything continuing exactly as it was. For better or worse, your life will never be the same after such an encounter.

In astrology, a similar meaning applies to Pluto. If the planet Pluto (ruler of the Underworld in astrology, too, just like in myth) transits a sensitive point in your natal chart, the Underworld enters your life. Something in your life is destroyed. Or changed. Or you rise to fame and fortune, or you embrace power. Or you fall from grace, or you experience great disempowerment.

People who know just enough astrology to be dangerous (an increasing segment of the population) tend to freak out when they realize they’re about to have a major Pluto transit. Very similarly, in fact, to how a highly superstitious individual reacts to a black cat. They are convinced it will bring terrible things. The negative possibilities of Pluto are a concept that travels much faster and farther than the positive ones.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has been having significant Pluto transits (Saturn, too–the crone planet) between the time she decided to run for Congress and the present. Jared Fogle (remember him? The guy who lost a lot of weight on Subway sandwiches?) rose to fame in Subway commercials during a significant Pluto transit, and was arrested for child pornography, resulting in a very public disgrace, during his next one.

Whether either of them encountered any black cats or coyotes along the way, who knows.

Readers, have you had a Hekate or Coyote or Pluto transit encounter of your own? Sharing welcome in the comments!

About Megan Stoddard
Megan Stoddard is a Reclaiming Pagan, an astrologer, and up and coming herbalist. She also has her own site at You can read more about the author here.

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