• June 14, 2024

Bast, the Beloved Protector of Cats

She is the protector of cats, women and children. The ancient Egyptians celebrated her feast day on October 31 with revelry, music, dancing in the streets, and drinks with friends—the kind of party we would instantly recognize.

A huge week-long festival was held in the holy city of Bubastis which drew devotees from all over the country to celebrate along the banks of the river and through the streets of the city. Herodotus speaks of crowds numbering 700,000. Bast and his party are sadly overlooked in modern times, but perhaps one could say that Halloween was originally celebrated as Bast’s Party.

He has in his possession the mysteries of the cat, those magnetic animals with great power to fascinate or repel. Let’s face it, we’ll all admit that we either love cats or can’t bear to see them. Historically, the cat was first endowed with archetypal power in Egypt, where it came to be considered a sacred animal. Because the cat identifies with Bast and is most recognized for her portrayal of a cat-headed woman. When a cat curls up with her head touching her tail, she forms a circle, the symbol of eternity, the symbol of the goddess in whatever shape she has chosen.

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

Bast was the possessor of the Eye of Horus, the sacred utchat. Over time, the utchat became more associated with cats, and was often in the form of a cat. Egyptian women wore these cat charms as fertility symbols, praying to have as many children as cats have kittens.

Our modern names for the cat are derived from the word utchat: cat, chat, cattus, gatus, gatus, gato, katt, katte, kitte, kitty, etc. A variation of his name was Pasht, and from this we get the remaining Indo-European words for cat: pasht, past, pushd, pusst, and puss.

The wildcats of Egypt first 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, rodents and other vermin began to thrive. . The wildcat was revered for its ferocity and rapacity, qualities it used to keep the rodent population in check, qualities it also 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 process of domestication. As the cat became identified with Bast, Bast gained enormous popularity from around 1000 B.C. C. onwards. Feline hunting instincts were honored, but also the cat’s gentler side as a warm and loving mother to her kittens.

The ancient Egyptians must have truly appreciated the beauty of wild creatures, they took the terrifying aspects of animals and turned ferocity into beneficial protection. Their gods possessed animal traits such as the precision of the falcon and the strength of the bull. So, we see in Bast the grace and elegance of a cat, the agility, strength, speed and deadly claws. He has the charm, patience, and affectionate nature of a domestic cat, as well as the potential for brute strength of a lioness.

She 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 musical accompaniment, delighting in the coordination of movements.

Today, ruins mark the joyous city of Bubastis, the once-proud temple nothing more than fallen blocks. However, the Bast name lives on. For at least 5,000 years there have been many who praised his name. Many still do today.

Take a moment to honor this ancient Egyptian goddess. She lights a green candle, her sacred color, and be affectionate with a cat, her beloved animal. When you talk to a cat, remember that you are talking to a small divinity and a beloved creature of Bast.

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