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She Who is All – The Goddess of Ten Thousand Names

May, 2017

Bast/Bastet

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 (Graphic: ancientegyptonline.com)

The Egyptian Goddess Bast or Bastet was originally a Lion-Headed Goddess, who gradually changed into the Cat-Headed Goddess we are more familiar with.

Even though Her outward appearance changed, Her temperament did not. She was still as fierce as a lion, while having the playfulness, grace, and dignity of a cat, sometimes affectionate, sometimes not, depending upon Her mood. Those of us who have a cat for a companion can certainly attest to that!

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(Graphic: Wikipedia)

Bast was thought to be the daughter of Ra, and as such, was called the “Eye of Ra”. It is said that She rode with her father in his chariot, pulling the sun across the sky.

She is portrayed as holding an ankh, for immortal life, and occasionally, a papyrus wand, which was a symbol of Lower Egypt, as well as the all-seeing eye of Horus.

She is known to have protected Her father, Ra, from Apophis/Apep, the serpent, who was one of Ra’s greatest enemies. When Ra’s priests could not vanquish the serpent with their magic, Bast, who saw all with her eyes, killed the snake. Due to this, She was known as a Goddess of Protection.

As most Goddesses, She has many aspects and names. Because of Her travels across the sky with Ra, she is known as the Lady of the East and Goddess of the Rising Sun. She is a Moon Goddess, as the glowing eyes of the cat remind one of the radiant moon.

She was the Goddess of Health, as it was believed that she bestowed both physical and mental health. She was the Protector of the Household, as cats protected homes from both rats and snakes.

She has Warrior aspects, as we have seen; but She is also a Lover. She ruled sensual pleasure, dancing and music. At Her temple in the city of Bubastis, Her priestesses wore red and danced erotically at Her festivals. These festivals were always joyous occasions filled with the music and dancing that Bast loved. She also loved erotic scents. The scents most sacred to Her were musk, cinnamon and sandalwood.

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(Graphic: Pinterest)

Bast is closely linked to Hathor; She sometimes carried a sistrum which was one of Hathor’s symbols. They are both honored at the Temple of Denderah, which was sometimes called the Bubastis of the South. They are both in the Kafre Temple at Giza – Hathor for Upper Egypt and Bast for Lower Egypt.

The Temple of Bupastis was filled with sacred cats, which Her priestess believed to all be incarnations of Bast herself. When the Temple was excavated, more than 300,000 mummified cats were found at the cat cemetery located there.

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In honor of Bast, cats were sacred to the population of Egypt and were cherished. Cats were dressed in beautiful earrings and other jewelry. It was a serious crime to harm a cat and those who did, were punished.

Bast was also honored as a Goddess of Fertility and Childbirth, due to the ease with which cats seem to deliver their kittens, and the nurturing shown to the kittens after their birth.

Bast’s colors were black, silver, turquoise and red; Her gems were lapis lazuli, jasper and, of course, cat’s eye. It should come as no surprise that Her plant was catnip.

No matter which aspect was primary at any one given time, Bast was always who

She was, totally accepting of the being that She was. If there is anything that one can learn from Her, it is that we are who we are and we should accept and embrace ourselves.

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May the Blessings of Bast be upon you!

Girl Talk: Getting to know the Goddesses

July, 2013

Bast

Goddess of Protection and Pleasure

Bast, also known as Bastet or Basthet, just in general as the “Cat Goddess”, was not only known as the Egyptian Goddess of sensual pleasure, but also as protector of the household, bringer of health, and the guardian of firefighters.  Bast is the daughter of Ra, the sun god, and is one of the few sun goddesses that is also recognized as a moon goddess.  The following legend will reveal how she earned such a distinction.

As it was told, by day Bast would ride through the sky with her father Ra, in his boat pulling the sun across the sky.  She was ever watchful and protected Ra from his enemies, causing her to become known as the Lady of the East, Goddess of the rising sun, and the Sacred and All-Seeing Eye.

At night however Bast transformed herself into a cat, renown for it’s superb night vision, in order to better guard her father from Apep, a serpent who was his greatest enemy.  Ra’s priests burned wax models of the snake, writing his name in green ink in an attempt to hex him, but to no avail.  Finally with her cat eyes shining in the dark, it was Bast who killed her fathers enemy.

Credited with killing Apep, Bast ensured the sun’s warmth would continue to bless the delta of the Nile with fertile soil and abundant crops, which resulted in her also being honored as a fertility goddess.

Because of her all-seeing sacred eye, called the utchat, that magically saw through the dark, she was also classified as a moon goddess, her glowing cat’s eyes reminding us of the moon that it reflects.

The worship of Bast began around 3,500 B.C.E., before the invention of writing.  In 950 B.C.E. it became the ‘national religion’ when her hometown of Baubastis, became the capitol of Egypt.  A shrine to her was built in Baubastis, fashioned from blocks of pink granite and a lengthy entrance lined with enormous trees.  Her shrine was considered to be one of the most beautiful temples in the world.

Cats were honored in her temple and the grounds held an extensive cat cemetery, numbering over 300,000,  where her beloved companions after being mummified, were entombed so they could join her in the spirit world.  Cats were honored in the temple of Bast and many felines were in permanent residence there in life.  If a local house caught fire, the cats would be dispatched to run into the flames, drawing them out of the building.  History’s first recorded fire brigade!  Many of the cat’s returned to the temple, sometimes slightly injured, but considered as heroes of the townspeople.  Any unfortunate cat who perished in the fire would be restored to life by Bast, possibly becoming the source of the belief that cats had nine lives.

Most households contained a small statue of Bast as a form of household protection, The All-Seeing Eye, to ward off thieves, and as the Cat Goddess, to keep the house free of snakes, and as the healer to ward off infectious disease.  An amulet of the utchat (all-seeing eye) hung over a door deterred thieves and vandals, placed over the mantel it averted illness, worn around the neck it protected you as you traveled.

Bast, more than any of the Egyptian goddesses, was considered a protector and friend of women and young children it is thought that this lead to her being referred to as “The Egyptian artemis”.

The Egyptian goddess Bast reminds us of all that is feline and feminine.  Her gifts, very cat-like in nature, include the refusal to be at everyone’s beck and call, and an insistence on the freedom of expression.  Most importantly, Bast leads us to accept the true nature of things (ourselves included) and helps us remain unswayed by the opinion of others.

I come from a family of Witches, and in our Familial Tradition Bast also represents strength and independence, leading to the phrase “She is a Bast woman”.  I think it is a high compliment indeed.

Symbols and items that represent Bast:

General:  Cats, rising sun, utchat (the “All-Seeing Eye”, pottery jars as perfume holders, beer, music and dance.

Animals:  Domestic cats, lions

Plants:  Cattails and other reeds, yew, cypress, mint (especially catmint), barley and hemp

Perfumes/scents:  Musk, cinnamon, frankincense, myrrh, hemp, catnip, vervain, sandalwood, geranium, and lavender

Gems and Metals:  Cat’s eye, Sunstone, Agate, Jasper, Lapis Lazuli, and Pyrite

Colors:  Black, gold, red, turquoise, clay, and silver

 

Additional information:  A team of Archaeologists recently unearthed a temple dedicated to Bast near Alexandria, finding a large collection of pots and statues of Egyptian Gods as well, including a statue of Bast (picture included).  The Supreme Council of Antiquities, states that this indicates that the goddess Bast was worshiped much later than originally thought.

Gems of the Goddess

March, 2011

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Do you ever find yourself thinking about how you would rather be lounging around somewhere else, engaging in something luxurious?  Bast would always and forever encourage you to do so.  She is the Egyptian cat Goddess of passion, pleasure,and the sun to name just a few.  She loves to dance, and remembers to never take things too seriously.  Who wouldn’t want her around?  Especially if she can help you with love issues as well as self doubt obstacles.  She has that special nocturnal cat vision, that allows her all seeing eyes to see through the darkness in physical circumstances and emotional ones, so we can become our true selves.  Bast herself is one strong and loving personality, which attracted her many followers.  She was worshiped around 3,000 B.C.E, and was known for her protectiveness of households and of women.  Her worshipers of Ancient Egypt  attended her shrine in Baubastis, that was made of pink granite and was considered to be one of the most beautiful temples in the world.  The temple grounds also held Bast’s cat followers who were mummified within the cemetery in her honor.

When she wasn’t being worshiped for the exquisite goddess she is, she would ride with her father Ra, the sun god, in his chariot to pull the sun across the sky.  She lived a life of ease and luxury, but always made sure to help her fellow Egyptians by giving them fertile crops to plant, and water to fill the rivers.  So in this case she is also a fertility goddess.

With all these attributes, also came her addiction to love.  This wasn’t a negative addiction, mind you, but Bast had a way with both men and women.  She had many lovers and affairs, all involving her special ingredient of seductive passion.

A very playful goddess, but also very motherly and on her guard about those whom she loved.  This intense warrior side came in handy when she found her father in danger of the god Apep, who was his largest enemy.  Ra’s followers tried everything they could to protect him, but in the end it was his daughter Bast who killed Apep within the darkest hour of the night with her all-seeing cat eyes, that shone as brightly as the moon itself.


CONNECTING WITH BAST

Do what Bas would want you to do and party it up!  Stop the stress, and know that your true essence is perfect.  So, turn up your music, spray on your perfume, and wear the prettiest thing in your closet (preferably red if you have it).  You can also burn some of Bast’s herbs in her honor, and don’t forget to ask her to dance with you.  Don’t be afraid to add luxury to your life in whatever form you want.  You deserve it.  Always remember that if you feel you need a “you” day, be sure to take advantage of it.  Those days are vital to you and those around you, as well as part of the road to enlightenment.  Sometimes you need to spend some time with yourself to get a better hold on whats going on in your life.  Bast would urge this, and would be willing to protect you if a moment of crisis strikes.


SYMBOLS AND THINGS TO PUT ON YOUR ALTER

Cats, perfume, clay pots, music, dancing, red, gold, cypress, barley, catnip, mint, yew, cinnamon, frankincense, lavender, cat’s eye, sunstone