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.

1 comment:

  1. This article somehow moved me to tears. I have two cats and recently had a really strange dream. A bird was flying really low in my backyard and i was trying to catch it. As i caught hold of the bird it fluttered in my hands so i tightened my grip on it. one of its feathers purely of white fell to the ground. i noticed i had crushed the bird and my finger had dug into the side of its chest. as i put the bird down it turned on the side of the wound and more blood flowed out of the puncture. the bird was speaking to me in my mind. i tried to stop the blood from flowing so i turned it to the other side and laid it on the ground. the blood stopped flowing from the puncture. it sat up and bit my finger. the bird had turned into a feline. it looked very much like one of my cats. it didn't bite me viciously, it was just a warning bite to let me know that i had wounded it and much of its blood had flowed out.
    Strangely, in reality i came across a dead bird in my garden and it was deja vu. the position of the white wing of the dead bird was much like the fallen wing in my dream.

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