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Bast, the Beloved Protector of Cats

She is the patroness of cats, women and children. The ancient Egyptians celebrated her holiday on October 31st with merrymaking, music, dancing in the streets and drinking with friends – the kind of holiday we would instantly recognize.

A large week-long festival was held in the holy city of Bubastis attracting worshipers from all over the country to celebrate on the riverbanks and in the streets of the city. Herodotus tells of crowds reaching 700,000. Unfortunately, Bast and her feast are overlooked in modern times, but you could perhaps say that Hallowe’en was originally celebrated as the feast of Bast

She holds the mysteries of the cat in her hands – those magnetic animals with the powerful power to charm or repel. Let’s face it, all of us will admit that we either love cats or can’t stand the sight of them. Historically, the cat was first endowed with archetypal power in Egypt where it came to be considered a sacred animal. Because the cat is identified with Bast and is most recognized for her depiction of a woman with a cat’s head. When a cat curls up with its head touching its tail, it forms a circle, the symbol of eternity, the symbol of the goddess in whatever form she has chosen

Bast is the goddess of the rising sun, moon, truth, enlightenment, sensuality, fertility, generosity, birth, abundance, home, music and dance. She was the beloved goddess and protector of women, small children and domestic cats.

Bast was the holder of the Eye of Horus, the sacred utchat. Over time the utchat became more associated with cats and often took the shape of a cat. Egyptian women used these cat amulets as fertility tokens, praying that they would have as many children as cats have kittens

Our modern names for the cat come from the word utchat: cat, chat, cattus, gatus, gatous, gato, katt, katte, kitte, kitty, etc. A variant of her name was Pasht, and from this we get the rest of the Indo-European words for cat: pasht, past, pushd, pusst and puss

The wild cats of Egypt originally lived in the swamps and marshes along the Nile. As time progressed, and people began to grow grains and other foods and preserve them for longer periods of time, rodents and other pests began to thrive. The wild cat was worshiped for its ferocity and rapacity, qualities it used to keep the centuries-old population in check, qualities it shared with the lion. What a blessing the Wildcat was to the Egyptians!

The domestic cats we know today are all descended from the felix sylvesteris, the Wild Cat of Africa and friend of the Egyptian farmer. And so began the long domestication process. As the cat became identified with Bast, so Bast gained immense popularity from 1000 BC. and after. Feline hunting instincts were honored, but so was the cat’s gentler side as a warm and loving mother to her kittens.

The ancient Egyptians must have really appreciated the beauty of wild creatures, they took the fearsome aspects of the animals and turned the ferocity into beneficial protection. Their gods possessed animal characteristics such as the accuracy of a hawk and the strength of a bull. So we see in Bast the grace and elegance of a cat, agility, strength, speed and deadly claws. She has the charm, patience and loving nature of a domestic cat, as well as the potential for the raw brute strength of a lioness.

He also has the gift, like all cats, of looking deep into your soul.

And it’s easy to see why Bast has been associated with pleasure, music and dance for millennia. Just think of your own comfort-seeking cat who loves to be petted and petted. Cats also love to play, with their graceful movements and purring as a musical accompaniment, luxuriously in sync with the movement.

Today, ruins mark the happy city of Bubasti, the once proud temple is nothing but torn down. However, Bast’s name remains. For at least 5000 years there have been many who have sung her name. Many still do today.

Take a moment to honor this ancient Egyptian goddess. Light a green candle, her sacred color, and be affectionate with a cat, her favorite animal. When you address a cat, remember that you are speaking to a minor deity and a creature beloved of Bast.

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