Bast was the Egyptian goddess of sensual pleasure, protector of the household, bringer of health, and the guardian saint of firefighters – she was the original mistress of multi-tasking!
Also called Bastet or Basthet, the goddess Bast is widely known today as the “Cat Goddess.” Egyptian cats were believed to be magical and had a special place in society. Legend has it that, by day, Bast would ride through the sky with her father, the sun god Ra, his boat pulling the sun through the sky.
Bast Against Apep
Ever watchful, she protected Ra from his enemies. Thus she became known as the Lady of the East, the Goddess of the Rising Sun, and The Sacred and All-Seeing Eye.
But by night, she was a different creature entirely! Bast transformed herself into a cat (renowned for its superb night vision) to guard her father from Apep (also known as Apophis), a serpent who was her father’s greatest enemy.
Ra’s priests burned wax models of the snake and wrote his name with green ink, trying to put a “hex” on him — but to no avail. Finally, with her cat eyes shining in the dark, she managed to kill the evil serpent.
Credited with killing the vile Apep, the goddess Bast ensured the sun’s warmth would continue to bless the delta of the Nile with fertile soil and abundant crops and was honored as a goddess of fertility.
Because of her all-seeing sacred eye (called the utchat) that magically saw through the dark, Bast is one of the few sun goddesses that is also classified as a moon goddess, with her glowing cat’s eye reminding us of the moon that it reflects.
One of the most ancient Egyptian goddesses, she is depicted as a slender woman having the head of a domestic cat. Sometimes she is shown holding a sistrum, a rattle used as a musical instrument in ancient times. Agile and lithe, Bast was recognized as the goddess of music and dance.
How People Worshiped Bast
The worship of Bast began around 3,500 BCE, before the invention of writing. In 950 BCE, it became the ‘national religion’ when her hometown, Baubastis, became the capital of Egypt.
Her shrine in Baubastis, fashioned from blocks of pink granite and a lengthy entrance lined with enormous trees, was considered to be one of the most beautiful temples in the world.
The temple grounds held an extensive cat cemetery, where her beloved companions, after being mummified, were entombed so they could join Bast in the spirit world.
Cats and Their Roles In Bast Worship
Cats were honored in the temples of Bast, and many felines were in permanent residence there. If a local house caught on fire, the cats would be dispatched to run into the flames, drawing them out of the building. (History’s first record of a fire brigade!)
Undoubtedly many returned to the temple a bit singed, but as heroes of the townspeople. Any unfortunate kitty who perished in the undertaking would be restored to life by the goddess Bast. This is possibly the source of the belief that cats have nine lives.
Bast As a Symbol Of Fertility
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 litter and the loving way she fiercely defends and cares for her kittens.
An amulet featuring a mother cat with several kittens suckling or playing at her feet was often given as a wedding present to a bride, invoking the help of the goddess to ensure that a woman could conceive and bear children.
Bast, more than any other of the Egyptian goddesses, was perceived as a protector and friend of women and young children. It is hardly surprising that the ancient Greeks referred to Bast as “The Egyptian Artemis.”
Bast As a Protector Against Illnesses
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 wards off thieves, the Cat Goddess keeps the house free of snakes, and as the healer, she wards off infectious diseases.
An amulet with the utchat (all-seeing eye) hung over the door deterred thieves and vandals; placed over the mantel, it averted illness and worn around the neck, it protected you as you traveled.
The More Sensual Side Of Bast
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; we saved the juicy parts for last.
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. They were 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 perfumes.
It’s not surprising she had a reputation since she had three husbands and was acknowledged as a sexual partner of every god and goddess (explaining her association with lesbians, although bisexuality would be a more accurate description of her nature).
Hedonistic Festivals Held In Bast’s Honor
The rituals performed in her temples, designed for healing, protection, and ensuring fertility, were decidedly sensual, full of music and dancing. The priestesses of Bast, dressed in “her color,” which was red, 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.
Lessons We Should Learn From Bast
The Egyptian goddess Bast reminds us of all that is feline and feminine. Her gifts, very cat-like in nature, include the refusal to be at everyone’s beck and call. A lasting insistence on the freedom of expression.
She teaches us to relax and never waste energy, reminding us to luxuriate in beauty, perfume, and sway in graceful movement. Bast refuses to take anything too seriously.
Most importantly, Bast leads us to accept the true nature of things (ourselves included) and helps us remain unswayed by the opinion of others. Curled up like a cat lying in the sun, the goddess Bast forms a complete circle, a symbol of the eternal.
Bast was truly unmatched, as she was the goddess of pleasure, sun, moon, bringer of health, the protector of cats, and the patron of firefighters. Talking about multi-tasking!
This is why her symbols are often connected to Sun, moon, sensual pleasures, and cats.
The rising sun is one of the most powerful symbols of Bast, as she was constantly guarding her father, Ra, who was the sun deity of Ancient Egypt. With utchat (the “All-Seeing Eye”), she could easily spot any danger or enemy that tried to approach her or Ra.
Apart from her main symbols, the sun and utchat, Bast’s other symbols are a pottery jar (perfume holder), parade, float, castanet and rattle, beer, music, and dance.
Domestic cats are perfect symbols of Bast, as she often transforms into one to guard her father. As such, Bast was often depicted as a slender and elegant woman with the head of a cat.
Lions and other wild cats are also good symbols of this glorious goddess.
Cattail and other reeds, yew, cypress, mint (especially catmint), barley, and hemp are plants often associated with Bast. It is easy to see why, as cattail, reeds, and other plants look similar to cat tails.
As a goddess of sensual pleasure, Bast should be associated with equally sensual scents, such as musk, cinnamon, frankincense, myrrh, hemp, catnip, vervain, sandalwood, geranium, and lavender.
Gems and Metals
Since Bast would often transform into a cat, it is natural that the cat’s eye gemstone is a perfect symbol for this goddess. Other gems, crystals, and precious metals symbolizing Bast are sunstone, agate, jasper, lapis lazuli, and pyrite.
Black is definitely Bast’s color, as she was often depicted as a black cat or a woman with a black cat’s head. Gold is another great choice to symbolize Bast, as gold is the color of the sun, and Bast has strong connections to the sun.
Other great color symbols of Bast are red, turquoise, clay, and silver.
Want to introduce Bast even more into your life? Why don’t you do it through some crystal jewelry? Here you can find some cool pieces that will help you connect to Bast on a deeper level by wearing crystals associated with her.
You can find excellent jewelry pieces with gemstones that symbolize this goddess. Additionally, your every outfit will look elevated as this jewelry is also a cool way to accessorize!
Answering the Call of Bast: Recognizing Her Presence and Cultivating a Sacred Connection
Have you ever felt drawn to feline grace or captivated by their mystique? For many spiritual seekers, the Egyptian goddess Bast may be reaching out to connect. Discover how to recognize the signs of her calling, invoke her presence, and foster a meaningful relationship with this powerful feline goddess.
How to know if Bast is calling you
To recognize Bast’s call, observe your connection with cats. Encounters with felines, whether domestic or wild, could be signs. Watch for animals that seem particularly drawn to you, as Bast often communicates through her cherished creatures.
Dreams and visions are another way Bast may connect. Dreams featuring her or her symbols, like the sistrum or lioness, can be significant. Likewise, visions of golden light might signal her presence.
Lastly, pay attention to synchronicities in your life. Repeated encounters with her symbols, or a strong attraction to her stories and mythology, can indicate that Bast is calling you. These patterns may appear coincidental but are worth noting.
To summon Bast, choose a location adorned with feline imagery or create an indoor space inspired by cats. Include her symbols, such as the sistrum, the Eye of Ra, or images of her as a lioness or cat. This will help forge a connection with the goddess.
During your ritual, light candles, particularly gold or yellow, as they represent the sun and her association with Ra. Offer symbols of Bast, like flowers, tokens, or written intentions. These offerings show your dedication and reverence for her.
In meditation, concentrate on your breath and clear your mind. Visualize Bast, her symbols, and the energy she embodies. Quietly ask for her guidance and remain open to any insights that may arise during your meditation.
Signs that Bast is present
Recognizing when Bast is with you is crucial to deepening your bond with her. The goddess often reveals her presence in various ways, from emotional sensations to visual cues. Here are six signs to help you identify when Bast is near:
- Emotional sensations: Feelings of joy, protection, or self-assurance can indicate her presence.
- Physical reactions: Sudden warmth, tingling sensations, or goosebumps may signal she’s close.
- Visual cues: Flashes of golden light, shadows shifting, or glimpses of her symbols can be signs.
- Auditory cues: Hearing soft purring, rustling fabric, or animal sounds may suggest her presence.
- Nature occurrences: Unusual cat encounters or sightings of feline creatures can be a signal.
- Intuitive connection: A strong sense that Bast is with you, even if you can’t pinpoint why, can be a sign of her presence.
Cultivating a relationship with Bast
To forge a deeper connection with Bast, establish a regular practice of meditation, prayer, or ritual to honor her. Make consistent offerings, like during the new moon, to demonstrate your commitment to the goddess.
Embrace her values by nurturing independence and self-confidence in your life. Protect and cherish cats and other feline creatures, as these beings are central to her essence. Aligning your life with her principles will help deepen your connection to her.
Finally, study her mythology and history. Read about Bast and her place in Egyptian mythology, and engage with others who share your interest. By exchanging insights and experiences, you’ll develop a richer understanding of the goddess and strengthen your bond with her.
- Bast, let me be like you and share my playful joy with others, helping us all to celebrate this life!
- Great goddess, help me celebrate my vivacious feminine powers today.
- Thank you, Bast, for helping me to be curious, energetic, and creative today.
- Bast, I join you in playfully enjoying everyone I meet in this life, both personally and professionally.
- Goddess of protection, show me how to land on my feet with joy and grace whenever adversity occurs.
- I call on you, Bast, to help me develop my true gifts by knowing and accepting who I really am.
- Bast, help me celebrate my bold feminine powers today.
- Bast, as the goddess of pleasure, help me to take in all of the experiences that life has to offer.
- Goddess, I reaffirm that I am a spirited and good-natured being.
- Goddess, guide me to friends who add excitement and adventure to my life.
- Goddess of joy, help me to keep my heart open with curiosity and playfulness.
- Great goddess, help me use and celebrate my powers of perception today.
- Bast, help me find ways to help myself and others to appreciate the joy in a well-balanced life.
- Goddess, teach me to make enough time for work and play so that my life is beautifully balanced.
- Your playfulness is infectious, Bast. Help me to share it with others.
- Frisky goddess, remind me to follow my curiosity so that I may experience more of the best that life has to offer.
- Great goddess, I rejoice with you in the ability to perceive even the smallest shifts in important matters.
- Bast, help me to remain centered and emotionally available to others.
- Bast, remind me that I must joyously play in order to have the energy to work hard.
Everything you do to nurture your own sensual enjoyment of life will help enlarge the influence of Bast.
- Be bold! Enjoy trying new things and pondering new ideas. Push your boundaries and leap with joyful abandon into the wider world.
- Explore your world kinesthetically, using your body’s senses of touch and experience. Revel in the excitement, sensuousness, and adrenaline-fueled risk of action-oriented and hands-on aliveness.
- Use networking and social interactions to create opportunities for creative collaboration. Never underestimate the creative power of even small groups with shared dreams.
- Communicate with utmost clarity and with direct questions. Avoid deception, concealment, or evasion. Champion the truth of what actually is and have faith that you will land on your feet.
- Indulge yourself! Relax and take great delight in sensual pleasures. Surround yourself with soft and silky fabrics (in Bast’s signature reds for extra measure), take luxuriously warm bubble baths, take delight in beautiful fragrances, and enjoy yourself profusely. Insert purr here!
- Practice your powerful ability to see and notice even the smallest changes or shifts in habits and appearances. Noticing when things change is a useful talent and tool for both offensive and defensive moments in life because we can more effectively choose where to move next for the best outcome.
- Practice seeing in the dark during New Moon or other dark times. Sit still and quietly, and notice how your senses all become more acute as you allow them to adapt. You will always be well-served by the ability to adapt and see clearly through darker times. Like the “utchat,” the all-seeing-eye amulet, this is a powerful form of proactive protection and productivity.
We hope you enjoyed this post. Be sure to check out some of the other goddesses we also write about. You can find the complete list of goddesses sorted across regions and religions here.
Featured Image Credit: Rama, CC BY-SA 3.0 , via Wikimedia Commons