Origin

I.

Urania’s Mirror; or, a view of the Heavens is a collection of astronomical star charts, a set of cards with illustrated constellations that appeared in 1824. People wondered where they came from. Publications at the time advertised a “lady creator”. A male reverend was suspected and later rumored as their true source. But all origins are like this – hybrid – born out of women and religion.

What do you call a blanket that still leaves you cold? The sky.

The star charts promised to bring the sky closer. With holes for stars, you could recreate the heavens in your room. Hold the card of Cancer up to the light and watch a crab shuttle across the far wall. Lit from behind with candles, many early cards caught fire. The Catbat was one of these, burned while bringing the far away near.

And so, late one evening, the Catbat became stuck in time. Once mythical –both lynx and bat, philosopher and shapeshifter– now ashes of a gnostic tarot card.

Define gnostic. Literally meaning having knowledge, the word holds many meanings. A blanket term.

II.

You imagine yourself as something.

As the poet, sexually charged, who destroyed all her work.
As the priestess, whose writings have since been lost.
As the sleeper, dreaming a magic into being.

In Old English, the maercstapa is one who walks the border. A boundary figure unseen fully by either world.

The only concealment is not showing. Is it a secret? No, it’s a joke. And when no one else gets the joke, it brings you pleasure.

III.

Watching the sun set is not like climbing a mountain. First, there is orange. After, there is blue. You breathe in and out, doing nothing requiring magic or strength, just looking across a field to the point where forest meets grass.

To make the grass vibrate, you cannot paint it green, but must also include it’s opposite– red.

Intense lights, back to back. You cannot find their verb. They moved? You follow and then you walk away. There is a before and an after. The meadow is not happy or good, but a cloak around you.

You imagine yourself as something.

On an evening like this, the catbat became stuck in time.

Written for Catbat Shop by Kelley Deane McKinney

For more on the inspiration and process behind the capes, check out this feature on Bushwick Daily.