flying cat necklace

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.

Bast and Sekhmet
This small cat goddess shrine honors both Sekhmet and Bast. It's on a shelf above my computer.

Bast is 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 for 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.

Cat Goddess Bast Panther Journey Scarab
I don't know who created this image but I love it

New! Try Storm Constantine's beautiful Meeting the Goddess Bast Guided Meditation

Bast and Sekhmet
by Storm Constantine and Eloise Coquio

The Cat in Ancient Egypt
by Jaromir Malek

An Egyptian Bestiary
by Philippe Germond, Jacques Livet

Feasts of Light: Celebrations for the Seasons of Life Based on the Egyptian Goddess Mysteries
by Normandi Ellis

Eyewitness: Ancient Egypt
by George Hart

The Mysterious, Magical Cat
by D. J. Conway

Cat Magic: Mews, Myths, and Mystery
by Patricia Telesco

The Mythology of Cats: Feline Legend and Lore Through the Ages
by Gerald Hausman, Loretta Hausman & Mariah Fox

Your Magickal Cat: Feline Magick, Lore, and Worship
by Gerina Dunwich

Myth and Magic of Cats
by Arianna Reynolds

Spells for Cats
by Daisy Pepper & Lauren Dorman

The Catswold Portal
by Shirley Rousseau Murphy
My absolute favorite feline shapeshifter novel

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
Ancient Egypt temple music for Bast the Cat Goddess Ambient Egypt Sounds from Ancient Sources CD Meditation Music of Ancient Egypt CD Sabla Tolo: Journeys Into Pure Egyptian Percusion 
by Hossam Ramzy Per Ankh by Jack Wood The Ancient Key by 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 ;-)

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Winged Bast courtesy of Vera Lucia Emerim
Copyright held by the artist's estate. Please don't take this image without their permission

Egyptian Dreams

Background & some clip art courtesy of