Has your cat spit fire recently? Exhibited fluency in multiple languages simultaneously? Levitated? Flown? If so, your furry feline may be experiencing the troublesome symptoms of housing a demon. And fire can really do a number on those expensive drapes.
Luckily for you, occult expert Paul Koudounaris is coming to SF this Friday, and as part of David Normal's "Crazyology" art exhibit  will be shedding light on the dark world of demonry in his lecture series, looking at both historical and modern accounts of devilish domestics.
Koudounaris stumbled upon this cryptic world of bedeviled kitties during research for his upcoming book Heavenly Bodies. Initially seeking evidence of angelic cat spirits, like the fluffy white Swiss apparition rumored to protect both the town Bürglen and the remains of St. Maximus, Koudounaris realized that the wealth of information on supernatural kitties was located on the dark side.
Even the goddess Bast, one of the most enduring Egyptian cat figureheads, was revered for her dark side. According to records from Herodotus, Koudouanris explains in an email interview with the Guardian. “Debauchery was part of the celebration of Bast. One source I found indicated that rapes and assaults were totally acceptable during the celebration of Bast, because it was believe that the spirit of Bast had taken over the perpetrators during the festival. ”
While the how's and why's of cats becoming possessed remain unexplained, accounts of these Luciferian faring felines are centuries-old.
And given the responses to Koudounaris' lectures, still relevant today. “I started doing this lecture as a kind of series” he says, “People who had not been to it would come to me and say, ‘oh, you should talk about my roommate's cat, that thing is a total demon.’ But [they didn't] mean bad kitty, [they meant] possessed by demons, or at least suspected of it.” Throughout his research Koudounaris has seen enough bones that he doesn't spook at just any apparition.
After completing his Ph.D. in art history at UCLA in 2004, Koudounaris was left waiting for some kind of otherworldly inspiration to direct and supplement his extensive training. Inspiration struck in 2006, in the seedy lobby of a Czech hostel.
“I had spent a day in Melnik , where I visited an extraordinary charnel house in the crypt under the Church of Sts. Peter and Paul,” wrote Koudounaris on his website, “It was gritty and dirty — decidedly not sanitized for tourists — but the arrangements of the bones showed genius, not just in formal artistic principles, but also in their understanding of philosophy and theology.”
For the next four years, his interest in the bizarre left him mausoleum-bound and underground, photo-documenting his journey into innumerable holes, crypts, and churches around Europe.
The Empire of Death, his recently-released book, documents this journey in rich color printed photographs, visually raising from the dead the largely forgotten history of ossuaries .
While he’s by no means a bone collector, Koudounaris, is certainly an archaeologist of sorts, exhuming the forgotten, the unbelievable, and even the seemingly bizarre. His work breathes new life into forgotten chapters of history, like that of devil cats.
One such chapter belongs to the United States, and a cat that haunts the Presidential homestead.
D.C., short for the District of Columbia (but also Demon Cat) has been purportedly haunting the White House since the Civil War days. Legend has it that General Nathan Bedford Forest, who was also the Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, was responsible for invoking this common cat with demonic duties. D.C. was “initially related to the death of Lincoln," says Koudounaris, “hence the suspicion that the confederacy was involved, apparently as an attempt to undermine the Union through a decidedly guerrilla tactic of sending in a demonically-possessed cat.”
D.C.’s historic haunting's have even garnered him his own Wikipedia page. According to Koudounaris, D.C. “has a tendency to reappear and presage national disasters -- the last account of it was right before the 9/11 attacks. It also appeared before Pearl Harbor and the Kennedy assassination, when it appeared and told JFK to "go fuck off."
Koudounaris muses, “Do you think they have to brief every new president? 'Sir, now that you have taken the Oath of Office, there is something we must tell you. If you happen to see a black cat that metamorphs, disappears, and speaks to you in tongues, it's a demon, sir.'"
Humor is clearly unfiltered when one deals with darkness daily.
A cat owner himself, he notes that chances of actually encountering a demonically-possessed cat is rather rare, but rogue demons have been known to take form in even the most docile of kitties. ‘I don't consider this something most of us should be worried about. But if your cat starts spitting fire--well, get the hell away from it.”
Paula Koudounaris demonic cat lecture
1000 Van Ness, atrium, SF