bastet

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!

Gems of the Goddess

February, 2013

Bastet – Egyptian Cat Goddess

The Egyptian goddess Bastet, also known as Bast, Ubasti and Baset, has been worshipped since the Second Dynasty. In the third millenium BC, she was depicted as a priestess with the head of a lion. Later, in the first millenium BC, with the popularity of the house cat, her lion’s head often transformed into that of a cat. Though her physical image differed, her demeanor did not. She remained both tame and wild, gentle and fierce.

Daughter of the sun god Ra, she is also known as Lady of Flame and Eye of Ra. She is wife to Ptah, god of carpenters and shipbuilders, and mother to Nefertum, who it is said was called forth from a lotus flower to help raise the sun into the sky.

Unlike other goddesses, Bastet has a very unique duality. When her head is that of a cat, she is a moon goddess, and when a lion, she is a sun goddess.  It is in these very powerful aspects of nature that she reminds us that to be true to oneself requires the acceptance of our own opposite natures.

With her feline mystique she is associated with playfulness, grace, sexuality, and affection, though none can deny her predatory nature. Contradictorily, it is this very predatory aspect that made her a protection goddess, much in the same way a domestic cat protects the crops and food stores by killing vermin.

Priests of Bastet’s temples were known to keep sacred cats who, when they passed over, were mummified and presented as offerings to the great goddess. To do harm to any cat would not only bring her wrath, but also that of the community and justice systems, as the penalty was death.

Bastet shows us the eternal sacred quality of the feminine, along with the beauty of a feral protectress. She reminds us that solitude and independence shows strength, but also that unity in relations binds our souls.

You can honor her with offerings of sweet liquids and foods, mint, honey, statues of cats, items of silver or gold, or a bowl of cool water placed on your altar.

 
correspondences –
Color: green, gold, red
Stones: Agate, cat’s eye, jasper, Sunstone
Planet: Sun
Herbs: catnip, cinnamon, vervain
Incense: Musk, cinnamon, frankincense, myrrh, hemp, sandalwood
Aspects: protector from contagious disease and evil spirits, as well as the home, cats and women

Myths and Legends: Journeys Through Time

April, 2010

Bastet

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Mysterious, intelligent, independent, needy, curious, adorable and whimsical. These are

a few of many adjectives used to describe an animal. Particularly an animal that thousands

millions even, own or are owned by worldwide. That animal is the closely watched and

regarded with great suspicion sometimes. None other than feline domesticus, the common

cat. Cats are most often accused as being a witch’s familiar or too darn smart for their own

good. Aside from that black cats especially are thought to bring about bad luck and ill news.

Some cultures believe that if a cat goes near a corpse or jumps over one, that person will

return to life as a vampire. Other cultures praised the cat because of their cleanliness and

their wisdom. There is one culture though that held cats in the highest regard. The Ancient

Egyptians held cats in such a high regard that they were considered demigods. Not beings of

of this plane entirely but beings of both this plane and the god’s plane. Cats were so very

important to the Ancient Egyptians that anyone caught killing, or harming one even if by acci-

dent, were killed themselves. The cats guarded the royal graneries and kept out mice and

vermin that would have otherwise depleted the food supply. It’s no wonder then that the

people of Ancient Egypt worshipped a goddess who’s duties included protecting cats.

That goddess would be Bast, also known as Bastet. There are many interpretations as to

exactly what Bast was the goddess of. Some interpretations have her as the goddess of fire,

dance, good fortune, music, and secretss. All accounts however agree that Bast was the

goddess of cats, a goddess of fertility and a protector. The Ancient Egyptians associate with

Ra making her a solar diety. However to the Greeks she is a lunar diety as they most likely

associated her with the emis. As with most Ancient Egyptian dieties, Bast has a temple

of worship as well as a town and cult that worshipped her. The town is called Bubastis,

or Per-Bast. Named after Bast and is located in Lower Egypt. There are many other temples

and many other cities that also worship Bast but the most holy and revered place is Bubastis.

Bubastis is so important because when the prefix “Per” is added to the beginning of a name

the meaning of the name translated loosely to as “home of” so Bubastis, was considered the

home of Bast. Originally Bast was seen as a protector of Lower Egypt and in fact her name

means “Fierce Devourer”. Before her name was changed to Bastet she was depicted as a lion

headed goddess and in charge of protecting the sun god, Ra. This association with Ra lead to

her gaining the titles ‘Lady of the Flame’ and ‘Lady of the East’. Some account say that Bast is a

daughter of Ra’s and that’s why she fights so hard to protect him. Other accounts say she is

simply a protective and avenging diety, a war type diety if you will. When Bast was renamed

Bastet which translates to “female of the ointment jar”, Bast also became known as a goddess

of perfume and eventually as the wife of Anubis, as he was known as the god of embalming.

As Lower Egypt lost more and more wars, Bast’s position in the diety order went lower and

lower, leading to her name change and her being seeing as less fierce and more motherly. It

was at this point at time that she began being depicted as a cat headed goddess instead of a

lion headed goddess. It was also around this time that she became associated with fertlity

and motherhood as domesticated cats are very gentle with their young. As cats were asso-

ciated with Bast and so very important, they were mummified. The cat owners would even

go so far as to shave off their eyebrows to show mourning when their cat died. At the temple

of Bast in Bubastis, more than 300,000 mummified cats were found. Also when an owner died

they were buried alongside their cat. As the years changed Bast’s identity merged with those

of other similar goddess which lead to the Greeks naming her “Ailuros“which is Greek for

cat and associating her with the moon goddess, emis.  All in all the story, history of this

cat goddess is very intricate and has many different facets. Presented here are some of the

basic and more well known facets of this goddess. Also presented are some slightly lesser

known facets. Suffice to say, this goddess is every bit as mysterious and unpredictable as

the charges to whom she gives protection are.

http://www.moggies.co.uk/bastet/bastet.html

http://www.crystalinks.com/bast.html

http://www.touregypt.net/godsofegypt/bast.htm