Bast, Egyptian goddess of the rising
sun, was much admired for her warm and playful nature, not to mention her fierce
protectiveness. One of the most ancient of Egyptian goddesses, Bast (who
was also known as
actively worshipped for several centuries. The Greeks, noting the
similarity between the two goddesses, referred to her
as the "Egyptian Artemis".
Many statues of the Egyptian goddess Bast have been excavated. She
is depicted as a shapely woman with the head of a cat. In her myths,
she takes on three
forms...as a woman, as half-cat, and in a fully feline form.
Bast, as the rising sun, rode with
her aged father, the powerful Sun God Ra, protecting him during his ride through the sky.
Then at night when Ra was defenseless in the dark, she turned into a cat to protect him
from the snake Apep who sought to usurp Ra's power.
Domestic cats themselves were worshipped as incarnations of the
goddess Bast. In addition to being the patron goddess of cats,
she was associated with
all things sensual and pleasurable including music and dance (any graceful movement),
childbirth and mothering, and all things feminine, especially perfume.
Since Bast was the goddess of all things that give pleasure, it's only natural
that the annual festival honoring the goddess was a riotous affair.... complete with
thousands of revelers floating down the Nile, drinking, dancing, gyrating, and shouting to
the townspeople on the bank.
Like any kitten, no matter how soft and playful, Bast could, if need be, bare
her teeth and claws to ward off a threat. She was known as a healer and as the
protector of the home. Statues of Bast were often used to ward off all manner of evil
spirits, snakes, thieves, illness, and even fire.
The goddess Bast, more than any other of the Egyptian goddesses, offers to
teach us to not take things too seriously, and to luxuriate in our
feminine grace and sensuality,
and especially to never waste our energy on worrying about
things that may never bring us rewards.