Bast, is more than any other of the Egyptian goddesses was perceived as a protector and friend oAs a gentler, more benevolent, evolution of the lion-headed goddess Sekhmet, her violent and bloody sister who could bring plagues, the goddess Bast could be invoked to prevent the spread of illness.
Consistent with her cat-like image and her status as a fertility goddess, Bast was associated with childbirth, perhaps because of the mother cat's continuous production of litters and the loving way she fiercely defends and cares for her kittens.
As a gentler, more benevolent, evolution of the lion-headed goddess Sekhmet, her violent and bloody sister who could bring plagues, the goddess Bast could be invoked to prevent the spread of illness.
Most households contained a small statue of Bast as a form of household protection . . . The All-Seeing Eye, to ward off thieves. . . as the Cat Goddess, to keep the house free of snakes. . . and as the healer to ward off infectious diseases.
Does this goddess sound like a gal that the phrase "sex kitten" would be invented for? Hardly! But, of course, there is more to the story than we've told so far :
For starters, one of the oldest versions of the goddess Bast was known by the name 'Pasht', from which our word passion was derived. (And from which the English term "Puss" may have arisen.)
Her name itself shares the hieroglyph of a bas-jar, a large pottery jar, usually filled with expensive perfume, a valuable commodity in a hot climate. Indeed, her son Nefertem, a sun god, became the Egyptian god of alchemy and perfume .
About Her Cult
Cult Center: Bubastis (Nile delta)
Do what Bastet would want you to do and party it up!
Rituals honoring Bast included light-heated barge processions and orgiastic ceremonies. Her cult can be traced back to about 3,200 BCE, and she became a national deity when Bubastis became the capital of Egypt circa 950 BCE.
The rituals performed in her temples, designed for healing, protection,
and insuring fertility, were decidedly sensual, full of music and
dancing The priestesses of Bast, dressed in "her color" which was red,
and were the first "strippers", famous for their erotic dancing.
Many festivals were held in her honor, and they tended to be quite
rowdy affairs. During the major festival, thousands of men and women
(children weren't invited) traveled on barges down the river to
Baubastis, drinking and partying mightily.
With loud music, women shaking their rattles, others gyrating in
dance, and some lifting their skirts while making lewd comments to the
townspeople lined up on the riverbank to watch the procession, the
feasts of Bast may have been a precursor to the Mardi Gras and
Carnivale. Some think that it is even the basis for the word "floats"
that describe the decorated rides in a parade.
In Egypt male cats were called Mau and females Mait. Cats knew the
words to vanquish the powers of darkness and would whisper them to
people who loved and befriended them. The black was believed to carry
particularly potent magical powers.
The Greeks identified Bast with Artemis. Artemis (or Diana) often
appeared in cat form. The legend of cats having nine lives probably
stems from Artemis as the mother of the nine muses or from the nine
primal great Deities of Egypt; a male and female pair for each of the 4
elements plus their mother.
In the temple at Per-Bast some cats were found to have been
mummified and buried, many next to their owners. More than 300,000
mummified cats were discovered when Bast's temple at Per-Bast was
When she wasn’t being worshiped for the exquisite goddess she is,
she would ride with her father Ra, the sun god, in his chariot to pull
the sun across the sky. She lived a life of ease and luxury, but always
made sure to help her fellow Egyptians by giving them fertile crops to
plant, and water to fill the rivers. So in this case she is also a
With all these attributes, also came her addiction to love. This
wasn’t a negative addiction, mind you, but Bast had a way with both men
and women. She had many lovers and affairs, all involving her special
ingredient of seductive passion.
History, Mythology and Facts about Bastet
A very playful goddess, but also very motherly and on her guard
about those whom she loved. This intense warrior side came in handy when
she found her father in danger of the god Apep, who was his largest
enemy. Ra’s followers tried everything they could to protect him, but in
the end it was his daughter Bast who killed Apep within the darkest
hour of the night with her all-seeing cat eyes, that shone as brightly
as the moon itself.
Micerino the name of the builder of the third pyramid al Giza also built a Temple in Bubastis dedicated to Bastet.
Bastet became a national deity when Bubastis became the capital of Egypt circa 950 BCE and gained importance as a commercial and trading center and place of ritualistic celebration
Denderah in Upper Egypt was sometimes known as the "Southern Bubastis".
Evidence from tomb paintings suggests that the ancient Egyptians hunted with their cats, who were apparently trained to retrieve prey.
More than 300,000 mummified cats were discovered when the temple of Bastet at Per-Bast was excavated.
The Greeks identified Bast with Artemis. Artemis (or Diana) often appeared in cat form. The legend of cats having nine lives probably stems from Artemis as the mother of the nine muses or from the nine primal great Deities of Egypt; a male and female pair for each of the 4 elements plus their mother.
The cult of Bastet was officially banned by Roman imperial decree in 390 AD.
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