Jan 10, 2011

Bast

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!

4 comments:

Lyn said...

I don't have a cat (hubby is allergic) but there's something so attractive and magickal about them. I have a statue of Bast on my dresser in my bedroom and I love to work with her :-)

Blessings

Lyn

Diandra said...

Bast is the one who kept our kitty safe during and after surgery last autumn... in return, she requested that I put up a wooden cat on my altar and "feed" it regularly... now whenever our cats climb my altar, the tomcat ignores the wooden cat and the kitty "says hello" by sniffing it and rubbing against it. ^^

Eliza said...

I love my cats too, I'm sure one of my cats thinks she is Bast herself :-)
Blessings to you.

Helen said...

Great post! I love cats and have one as my faithful companion and keeper (for 17 years now). I have been curious about the wings on Bast's chest and discovered that it is a symbol of a winged scarab (representing an Egyptian solar deity).