Mar 2, 2009

Bast, Egyptian Deity

Since I love cats so much, I figured a little research on the Egyptian goddess Bast was in order and some of what I found was very interesting.

Bast, also known as Bastet, patron of cats, women, and secrets appears as a desert cat or a woman with the head of a cat (this form possibly dates after the domestication of the Egyptian wild cat). She is described as probably the most famous Egyptian goddess after Isis and Bast was said to be the daughter of Ra though long after he created the primal gods.

She was originally a sun goddess but after contact with the Greeks, she changed to a moon goddess probably due to the Greeks associating her with Artemis. Like Artemis, Bast was a wild goddess and to those who were in her favor, she gave great blessings, but her wrath was legendary and she was sometimes listed as one of Ra's avenging deities who punished the sinful and the enemies of Egypt. This is of course in keeping with her totem animal the cat. Cats were sacred to Bast and to harm one was deemed a great transgression.

Bast's importance in the Egyptian pantheon might be due to the great value placed on the domesticated cat by the Egyptians. Cats curtailed the spread of disease by killing vermin and though the idea of microbes was unknown to the ancient Egyptians, they must have noticed the connection between rats and disease. Her worship was widespread, and her followers apparently had a great deal of power. Bubastis was even the capital of Egypt for a time during the Late Period and some pharaohs took her name in their king-names. Herodotus' description of her temple at Bubastis is that of a place of great splendor and beauty, rivaled only by the temples to Ra and Horus Worshiped widely throughout Egypt...... her center of worship was at Bubastis.

Cats have an air of mystery about them and some do not care for them as pets because of this but I have always understood them and knowing their royal history only makes me love them more!

1 comment:

Nicole said...

Hi =)
I found your blog off the pagan bloggers network...
Wonderful post with great info. I have a cat too! I love her dearly, she follows me around every morning, and has to be in my room at night when I go to bed. I don't know what I'd do without my cat.