black cat

Let’s Spell it Out

October, 2009

Halloween Black Cat Magick: calling upon the Egyptian Bast

We know the day as Samhain, but the non-magickal call it Halloween.  And what is Halloween without the iconic black cat; fluffy tail, arched back and seated on the back of a witches’ broom.  Besides being associated with Witches, how did the infamous black cat get to be the unofficial ambassador for the holiday?  Well, many goddesses have had feline companions of one sort or another including the Norse Freya and the Greco-Roman artemis-Diana but the goddess that is possibly best known as a cat is the Egyptian Bast.

Bast, or Bastet, wasn’t always as we know her today, she started out as Sekhmet.  Over time, Sekhmet transformed herself to meet the needs of the people and became two separate divinities, one the fierce Sekhmet who was called upon for protection, and the other was the gentle Bastet who was called upon for personal assistance in matters of conception.  In either form, Bast was the daughter of the sun-god Re (sometimes said to be the eldest daughter of Amun), but in the guise of Sekhmet, she was the “rage in his eye” and acted as the instrument of his vengeance.  The Egyptian Trinity was Sekhmet-Bast-Re and Bast was honored and venerated during special holidays through the imbibing of wine, beer and sometimes grape-juice.

During the worship of Bast and Sekhmet, the cat became a symbol of the goddess energy.  Cats were venerated for two-thousand years and the earliest known portrait of Bast dates back to 3000 BC.  Initially, she was portrayed as a lioness (Sekhmet), but from 1000 BC onward she took the form of a cat (Bast’s son Mihos has the head of a lion, so perhaps he has more of Sekhmet’s traits than those of his mother).  Bast is the more peaceable and benign form of Sekhmet and has both lunar and solar energies.  Bast is usually pictured as a woman with a cat’s head but sometimes with a lion’s head (Sekhmet) and has nurturing, motherly qualities.

As the benevolent form of Sekhmet, Bast is associated with domesticity, fertility, pleasure, healing and protection.  Her symbols are the sistrum, basket and the alabaster jar.  During her worship, her cult center was at Bubastis.  The cat was considered sacred and there were cat cemeteries full of mummified animals.  During the Helenic period, she was synchronized with artemis and took the more Sekhmet form of Pakhet (“she who tears”).

THE SPELL:

This is a very simple spell where you will ask for Bast’s help in a personal situation.  Perhaps you are looking to conceive a child or need healing.  Or, you could call upon Bast to quell your “bad side” (Sekhmet), and request help with your temper.  And, either version of the goddess (the benevolent Bast or the vengeful Sekhmet) could use their claws to protect your or your loved ones (cubs).  Whatever you feel you need help with, you will simply speak from your heart to the Goddess.

Supplies: most likely you don’t have an alabaster jar lying about, and you may not have a Bast statuette, so you can use a simple basket to represent Bast.  For an offering to her, you can choose between beer, wine or even grape-juice.

Begin by either creating sacred space or casting a circle in the manner of yoru tradition.

Open up the spell by calling to Bast:

“On this day of the Celtic Samhain,

I call upon the Egyptian Lion;

The Trinity: Sekhmet-Bast-Re,

Please bless me on this day.”

Place the basket on your altar after saying:

“Sacred Black Cat of Halloween,

Traveling worlds seen and unseen;

I honor this day the Egyptian Bastet,

Symbolized here by this basket.”

Hold up your offering of wine/beer/juice and say:

“By the magick of your lives of nine,

I give to you this offering of wine.”

Place the wine either in the basket itself or directly in front of it and say:

“I give to you this libation,

in exchange for aid in my situation.”

Speak to Bast in your own words as to what in your life needs to be rectified.  Let it all out and cry if you need to.   You should meditate to try to get an answer, so perhaps you would like to have a pen and paper nearby in case you get some immediate guidance from Bast.  When finished, express your gratitude to Bast by saying:

“My thanks to you, black cat goddess,

Egyptian queen in a lion’s dress.

I wish a happy Celtic New Year to you.

Please guide me in the work I do.”

Be sure to leave the offering overnight and then dispose of the remainder in the morning!

SOURCES:


Egyptian Paganism for Beginners by Jocelyn Almond & Keith Seddon

Encyclopedia of the Gods by Michael Jordan

Halloween by Silver RavenWolf

Offering to Isis: Knowing the Goddess Through Her Sacred Symbols by M. Isidora Forrest