Until I encountered this beautiful painting by the late
Vera Lucia Emerim
the only place I'd seen the Goddess Bast
with wings was in my dreams. Though not conventional ancient Egyptian imagery,
it feels soooooo right. Thank you, Vera, wherever you are!
Update: It seems Vera and I are not alone in picturing Lady Bast with wings!
I just found this replica of an ancient Egyptian statue of Bast. Note
the winged effect on Her ears! And this
passage is from Gerina Dunwich's book,
Your Magickal Cat
"The cat-goddess was originally worshipped in the form of a lioness.
by 1000BC Bastet's guise had transformed into that of a benevolent cat.
Her popularity became widespread throughout Egypt, and she was often depicted
in works of art as a deity possessing the body of a woman with the head
of a cat... In later Egyptian theology she took on the appearance of
a cat-headed hawk, emphasizing the spirituality of the cat and symbolizing
the soaring immortal soul"
My husband John & I assembled this tribute to Bast, protector of cats in
this world and the next, shortly after our sweet Monday died. John made
the wooden urn for Monday's ashes. I had taken this photo many years earlier,
but it seemed more appropriate than any of her newer images. Eventually
I want to include images of all our dearly departed feline family members
on our altar.
Of course all our furangels are with Bast & Monday in spirit already.
This small cat goddess shrine honors both Sekhmet and Bast. It's on a shelf
above my computer.
often depicted as a cat headed woman holding a sistrum,
a percussion instrument with a wooden or metal frame
fitted with loose strips of metal and disks that jingle when shaken.
Cat images adorn many sistra and in ancient Egypt the annual festival at
Bubastis was a wildly joyful affair with singing, dancing, shouting,
rattling, drumming and plenty of food and drink for all.
It is easy to see why Bast the Cat Goddess has been associated with
pleasure, music & dancing for millenia.
Just think of your own sensual, comfort-seeking cat who loves
to be stroked and petted, gets tipsy on catnip and can often be
found curled up in the coziest places in the house!
Cats also love to play, their graceful movements
resembling lighthearted dancing with their purring as musical accompaniment.
Bast offers to teach us to refuse to take things too seriously, to luxuriate in our grace and sensuality,
and to never waste our energy.
Lady Bast has also been the inspiration for some of my own designs
Gypsy Cat Jewelry
It's easy to see why someone as obsessed with cats, music, art,
dancing and drumming feels drawn to Bast :-)
This lovely tribute feline caretakers at the Temple of Bast was also painted by
Vera Lucia Emerim.
Dream Country (Sandman, book 3)
by Neil Gaiman, illustrated by Kelley Jones & Charles Vess
This classic collection of short graphic novels includes the brilliant Dream of a Thousand Cats
Some of my favorite ancient Egyptian-inspired music by Ali Jihad Racy, Douglas Irvine,
Gerald Jay Markoe, Hossam Ramzy, Jack Wood and Wendy Luck
The Historical Bast
The word "Bast" is the combination of the ancient Egyptian word "bas-" and the feminine ending "-t". Using phonetic shorthand, "bas-" is spelled "b3s-", with the "3" standing for an "ah" sound. The end result (in the English language) is "B3s.t", which, while spelled like "last", sounds more like "lost" or, more accurately, "lahst".
Honoring the Goddess Bast dates back to at least the Second Dynasty (c. 2890-2686 Before Common Era [B.C.E.]) ~ that's almost 5000 years!
Bast was originally depicted as a woman with the head of a wild desert cat and only became associated with the domestic cat
around 1000 BCE, nearly two thousand years after Her worship began.
Bast's sacred city in Kemet was Per-Bast, called Bubastis by the Greeks, and located
in what is today called Tell Basta, near Zagazig in Northern (Lower) Egypt. Per-Bast translates into "the Domain of Bast."
In addition to the famous festival of Bast in Bubastis, there were also celebrations held in
Thebes, Memphis and Esna.
In Memphis (Old Kingdom)She was associated strongly with the lion-headed Goddess Sekhmet.
Bast is one of several gods who are known as the "Eye of Ra", a title that denotes a God who functions as a protector or
avenger. Since the earliest of times She has been associated with the king. Pyramid Texts 892 name Her next to the king as
the, "Knowledge through which death cannot approach too closely." She also serves as his protector, a trait that is
common in many other feline gods such as Mafdet, protector of Pharaoh's chambers, and Sekhmet
destroyer of the King's enemies.
The hieroglyphs for Bast are , the
jar-like symbol representing bas
and the half-circle (a loaf of bread) standing for the feminine -t
ending. The bas jars
themselves are heavy vessels used to store perfume and Bast Herself has relations to perfumery.
The Bast of the Second Dynasty was exclusively solar; being the Eye of Ra, She had to be.
When She began to be linked to the Goddess Artemis by the Greeks (around 500 BCE? Someone correct me if I'm wrong :-), She became lunar. Today, many associate Bast with both the Sun and the Moon.
Small statues of cats were used as gifts to Bast; a state statue of Bast in the ancient Egyptian
faith was the cat- or lion-headed woman. One of the most popular of these statues shows Her wearing a gown and holding a
sistrum (rattle) and/or Her protective aegis.
Cat Goddess Bast in the Movies!
The vastly underrated Catwoman movie features a story line in which a
timid artist Patience Phillips (Halle Berry) is killed and
brought back to life by a magical Mau on an errand from Bast the Cat Goddess.
The filmmakers integrated a lot of ancient Egyptian flavor into the movie
(don't blink during introductory title art... it's gorgeous!) and
got quite a bit of the history right.
At one point Patience visits Ophelia (Frances Conroy), mysterious "cat lady" and
possibly a modern day priestess of Bast. At any rate, she lives with many cats and her
home is a tribute to Bast and ancient Egyptian art. She tells Patience about catwomen
through history (in this movie, Catwoman is not a solitary mutant being but one of a
long line of human women gifted by Bast with feline attributes)
"Bast is a rarity. A goddess of the moon and of the sun. She represents the duality
in all women. Docile, yet aggressive. Nurturing, yet ferocious... You are Patience
and you are Catwoman. Duality personified. Accept it, child. You've spent a lifetime caged.
In accepting who you are... all of who you are... you can be free."
Of course Bast is much more, but that is nicely put :-)
I'm no moviemaker but here's a little feline slide show featuring images of Bast, some cats I've known and loved,
and a certain human with feline aspirations ;-)
Thanks to Digits.com we know that
you're thecatpurrson to cross our