Bast was an Egyptian goddess of love, fertility and relationships and the protectress of cats. The other variations of her name are Bastet, Baast or Ubasti (which probably meant She of the Ointment Jar).
ABOUT THE GODDESS
The history of Bast’s cult is divided into two stages. She was considered to be the guardian of Lower Egypt, during Old Kingdom of Egypt at least from the times of the Second Dynasty (i.e. from 3 500 b.C. even before the writing was invented). She was worshipped in Per Bast (Bubastis in Greek) where her famous temple was situated. It was described by Herodotus to be one of the most beautiful sanctuaries in an ancient world. Archaeologists discovered the cementary filled with cat mummies near the remains of the temple because cat was Bastet’s sacred animal. During the New Kingdom of Egypt she was more and more identified most of all with the lioness goddess Sekhmet but also with Hathor, Mut and Tefnut and her cult spread significantly to reach even Italian Penisula in the times of the Roman Empire. According to the first myths Bast had been the daughter of Ra the sun god and herself the mother of Maahes , however after being identified with Sekhmet she became the wife of Ptah. There is also a hypothesis that she had been the lioness or the woman with the head of a lion and then to distinguish her from Sekhmet she was presented as a cat (a myth illustrates this change: a wild lioness touched the waves of a lake and took the milder form of a feline)*.
The duality of female nature is reflected in the way the Egyptians worshipped Bast. At first because of her origins she was initially identified with the Sun (as a solar deity she was called Lady of the Flame, Lady of the East, the Goddess of the Rising Sun, Ra’s Eye and The Sacred and All-Seeing Eye. However when the soldiers of Alexander the Great seized the power over Egypt she became the moon goddes under the influence of Hellenic beliefs (Herodotus identifies her as Artemis and in the hellenistic era she is known as Ailuros). In fact it does not seem to be best of the assignements because Bast was taking care of homes and families and was bestowing health and fertility (as a feline taking care of her offspring she was sometimes depicted with kittens). According to myths during daytime Bast sailed in the skies with her father Ra in the boat to which the sun was attached and was observing everything carefully to watch over him. At night she was turning into a feline still keeping a perfect eyesight to protect her father from Apel (Apophis), a serpent who was his biggest enemy and who was eventually killed by Bast.
Thanks to her agility and power she was identified with the goddess of war and she was protecting the pharaoh on the battlefield. Archaeologists found vast cementaries of mummified cats and this shows how important cats were in the family life. They were protecting crops against mice and therefore it is possible these animals had as high status as cows in India. Interestingly cats were also warning against the fire and if any of them was harmed in it, the goddess was reviving them and perhaps this is where the legend of cat’s nine lives came from. Various symbols of Bast were kept at homes, these were the cat figurines to scare mice and serpents away and all-seeing eye to make thieves and plagues keep out of the house. The sculpture of a feline feeding kittens was often given as a wedding present as it symbolized the wish for health and fertility and Bast was considered the guardian of women and children even more than other Egyptian goddesses. Probably because of her name’s etymology she was the protectress of people who manufactured perfumes. Bast was also the goddess of dance, amusement, sensuality and pleasure. During her holiday the priestesses of her temple wearing red, a colour of the goddess, were performing something that we would call an erotic dance nowadays. Celebrations were taking place in April and May and they were very popular; perhaps even 700 thousand Egyptians could have come to Bubastis to sing, dance and drink excessively.
IMAGES, SYMBOLS AND ANIMALS
She was presented as a feline or a slim woman with the cat or lion head. Her attributes were sistrum, a musical instrument of the percussion family, a rattle, a basket or box. Her weapon was an aegis with the image of a lion.
The card of Bast shows a woman who feels fulfilled in many ways , both at work and at home. This is a modern mum who brings her children to kindergarten or school and then hurries to work. It also shows an independent woman or girl who cannot stand cultural and traditional limits and intends live her life in her own way. In negative it signifies egoism, lack of awereness, having too much fun and aversion to commitment in relationships.
Look closer into this situation because something may be hidden from you. Think it over and follow your intuition. Balance the male and female parts of your personality.
If you are in a relationship: Take a good care of your family and pets. If you are thinking of staring your own family this is a good moment for that. Leave the everyday duties from time to time and be more playful. Your father may need your help.
If you are single: Time to have fun. Relax, have a bath, use a body cream, go out, dance and move with grace.
Perhaps you may have to adapt to new circumstances and change your job or profession. Do not be scared of that, this card shows your flexibility and the skill of balancing.
It is a good moment to start excersising yoga or other stretching workout. Endangered body parts: spine and eyes.
Bast in The Goddess Oracle by Hrana Janto&Amy Sophia Marashinsky
Bast in Goddess Inspiration Oracle by Kris Waldherr
Bast in The Goddesses Knowledge Cards by Susan Seddon Boulet&Michael Babcock
Bast in Goddess: A New Guide to Feminine Wisdom by River Huston&Patricia Languedoc
Bast in Goddess Guidance Oracle Cards by Doreen Virtue
Bast in Goddesses&Sirens by Stacey Demarco&Jimmy Manton
and in Universal Goddess Tarot by Maria Caratti&Antonella Platano where she represents Ace of Wands:
Based on the English wikipedia and http://www.goddessgift.com/goddess-myths/egyptian_goddess_bast.htm .
*That is why I considered writing a common blog entry about them but in the end I decided they deserve the separate ones.