Tuesday, January 5, 2010
Bast : Cat Goddess of Egypt
Bast, also known as Bastet, is a feline Goddess of ancient Egpyt. She has been worshiped since 3200 BC in northern Egypt and in her sacred city of Bubastis . She is said to be the daughter of Ra, the sun God. Bast represented the moon in its process of making a woman fruitful with a swelling womb. She was also Goddess of music, pleasure, perfume and dancing.
Cats were especially revered in ancient Egypt, and were highly protected and sacred animals. Anyone who was caught harming a cat in anyway was punished by death. Cats were among the first animals in ancient Egypt to be domesticated. They were seen as justified predators and a defender of the innocent. Eventually the sacred animal became symbolically aligned with children and childbirth. The adoption of a cat into the household usually coincided with childbirth. The cats calm mothering instincts were symbolic of the balance in nature showing the tenderness of the predator. It was quite common in ancient Egypt to unite animalistic qualities to their Gods and Goddesses. Animals that were hunted or domesticated were given particular favor in Egyptian spiritualism.
The Egyptians viewed all cats as children of Bast and were given a revered position in culture. Cats were often gifted with luxurious jewelry as a sign of gratitude for their loyalty and protection of the family. Cats were given death rites and were greatly mourned. They were mummified and buried with offerings of perfume, gemstones and jewelry.
Bast had a great temple in her holy city of bubastis, filled with cats being carried around in baskets who were ritually fed. Once a year in this sacred city, there was a great festival to honor Bast, attracting devotees all over the country. One aspect of this festival, which took place at night, involved lighting a single candle in the Temple of Bast, and the devotees would carry that candle around town while chanting prayers and playing music.
Bast is truly a wonderful Goddess and is still worshiped widely today. Try a simple prayer to Bast, with offerings of perfume and incense on your altar, and if you can, a small statue of Bast, if not a picture of a cat will do.
Prayer to Bast:
Beloved Bast, mistress of happiness and bounty, twin of the sun God, slay the evil that afflicts our minds, as you slew the serpent Apep. With your graceful stealth anticipate the moves of all who perpetrate cruelties and stay their hands against the children of light. Grant us the joy of song and dance and ever watch over us in the lonely places in which we walk. So mote it be.
Posted by Tara at 10:19 AM