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Researching the Mystic Cat
Excerpts from "The Mystic Cat" by John Mongiovi


For years the Mystic Cat has been a mystery for many, from those who are curious to know why the symbol appears in the front and back covers of Sinfonia Songs, to those who are seeking the wisdom found within Sinfonia’s symbols and Ritual. For years it was unclear whether the cat originated as a publication title or a symbol, and if as a symbol, what meaning - if any -did it have?

In A Centennial History, T. Jervis Underwood rightly deduced that for the song "The Mystic Cat" to have been written in time for inclusion in the 1908 edition
of Sinfonia Songs, "the tradition of the Mystic Cat would have to have been well established." Dr. Underwood also writes, "although the involvement of such prominent Sinfonians as Percy Jewett Burrell and George Chadwick suggests that some hint of its existence might be found in previous fraternity records, none has been discovered."

The first known depiction of the cat appears on the cover of the 1908 edition of Sinfonia Song and appears as a song in the songbook with words by Percy Jewett Burrell and music by George Chadwick. "The Mystic Cat" was also the title of a Sinfonia publication that ran from November 1909 to March 1917.

While some evidence may suggest that the cat was a symbol of discordant whistling, and it is known that the cat was associated with a degree of initiation in which a mock Ritual was presented, there is no conclusive evidence to provide a definitive explanation of the symbol. What is known for certain is that the cat was an early attempt at symbolism that was abandoned as the Fraternity developed more meaningful symbols in conjunction with an evolving initiation Ritual.

To read the full essay, go to:
http://www.sinfonia.org/Resources/writings/Mongiovi/cat.pdf