Sunday, May 20, 2012

Pagan Blog Project-B is for Bast

Bast, also known as Bastet, is the Egyptian goddess of protection, fertility, sexuality, motherhood, healer of the sick and protector of the dead. She is usually depicted as a woman with a cat head or a cat headed hawk. Her parental origins are conflicting, as some myths say she is the daughter of Ra and Isis and other myths show she is the daughter of Amun. Another myth also shows she is the daughter of Ra and Mut. Information gathered also shows she is the mother of Mihos a lion-headed sun god and also mother of Khensu and Ma’ahes (possibly another spelling for Mihos). Different myths show her as consort to either Ptah or Horus.

Originally, Bast was a lioness goddess, fierce
and proud and by around 1000 BC she was transformed into what we now see as a domesticated household cat. Because of this, she seems to have a dual personality, both aggressive and docile. Her gentler side as the cat Bast is a protector of home and children, while her aggressive side, the lion, is ferocious and warrior like. This is shown in the myths that explain how Bast travels by day with Ra in his sun boat but at night hunts and kills his arch enemy Apophis.

She also appears in ancient texts such as the Pyramid Text and Coffin Text. In the PT 1111, she is referred to as a mild mother and nurse for the kings of Egypt. In the CT, it is written that she provides protection for the deceased, thus giving her credence as a funerary goddess.

Bast’s symbols consists of the sistrum which is also associated with Hathor, the ankh which is the symbol of everlasting life and\she is often seen wearing a breastplate showing the picture of a lion, perhaps a reminder of her former self.

As in most pagan religions, gods and goddesses overlap or are re-named for deities local to a specific area. For example, in Greece, Bast is associated with the warrior/huntress virgin of Artemis. In Rome, she is Diana; in Norse mythology Bast is associated with Freya and in Hindu myths, Durga.

The name of Bast has the hieroglyph of a “bas”-jar. Her name was added with a “t” to show that this is a goddess not a god. The bas jars were perfume jars which were considered valuable to Egyptians due to the necessity of bathing regularly because of the hot and humid weather of Egypt. So perfume jars were considered very important, because hygiene
is very important to Egyptians, especially the royal families. Bast is also connected with the idea of perfume from her son Nefertem, who was god of perfumes and alchemy.

The cult of Bast was located in Bubastis, which is an island in the Nile Delta of Lower Egypt. Today this area is known as Tel Basta. Bast was worshiped from about 3200 BC to 4th century AD when paganism was outlawed by Theodosius I.

Worship of Bast was very popular. Her rituals and festivals were said to be the best of them all. Her festivals included attendance of about ½ million people, joyous parades, and celebrations lasting for a long time, dancing, singing, excellent food and of course drinking.

The temple at Bubastis also was very popular for cats. Cats were idolized as gods themselves and were treated royally, by being pampered and jeweled as well as any member of royal family would. Because of this attitude towards cats, they ran wild within the temple. These cats were greatly loved and revered and to kill one illegally brought with it the penalty of death.

She teaches us many lessons, including, but not limited to, how to land on our feet (as does the stealthy cat) and that a positive playful attitude can be a good and helpful thing. Of course we can not forget that she also has her darker side, which can be ferocious.

To bring Bast into your life, simply just pray to her, or have a toast to her with a nice glass of wine. Sing, dance and make merry. These are all ways to bring her into your life. If you need protection for any harm, or want to get pregnant, or want to have a safe pregnancy, then Bast is your goddess.

Modern witches have so many advantages today with so much information available to help with how to worship. Using correspondences specifically for Bast make your prayers or spells that much better. I personally, like to say a prayer each morning and evening to thank the gods for another day. I usually light a candle for them and burn their specific incense and offer libations, in Bast’s case, a nice glass of wine or even cheese.

Some (not all) of Bast’s correspondences are as follows:

Herbs: aloe, apple, catnip, cedar, cinnamon, gardenia, jasmine, willow

Crystals: amber, cats eye, garnet, moonstone, opal, sunstone, jasper, onyx

Color: green, black, red, gold, tourquoise, silver

Incense: apple, jasmine, lavendar, pine, cedar, cinnamon, gardenia

Metals: copper, silver, gold

Wood: cedar, willos

Cardinal point is East.
Element is air.
Day is Friday.
Time is dawn.
Season is spring.

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