Bast Egyptian Goddess
The Egyptian Goddess Bast is known as the goddess of the home, fertility, childbirth, and women’s secrets. Bast is also associated with cats and is thought to protect the home from evil spirits and dis-ease. Worship since at least the Second Dynasty of Ancient Egypt, she is known to be the daughter of the sun God Ra and associated with The Eye of Ra, also known as The All Seeing Eye.
Similar to other Egyptian Goddesses, Bast played a role in the afterlife as a guide and aid to those who have passed. This, however, was not her primary duty. Originally her name was spelled B’sst, which later became Ubaste, then Bast, and later Bastet. It is unclear what the meaning of her name means, however, many believe it to mean “she of the ointment jar” since she was associated with protection and sacred ointments.
In Egypt both men and women were drawn to Bast. She was first represented as a woman with the head of a lioness and was closely associated with the goddess Sekhmet. This depicted her to be fierce and sometimes unforgiving as she was also sometimes known as the Lady of Slaughter. In later times her image softened to show her as more of a daily companion and protector than her earlier version as a “savage avenger”. Now seen as more of a domestic cat, she became known as the goddess of protection, blessings, woman, children, fertility, music, sunrise, dance and family.
Elaborate festivals were held in her honor, the main festivals being held in April and May in Bubastis. These festivals tended to be the most popular due to the music, dancing, and the abundance of wine. The festivals would begin by making sacrifices for Bast and leaving offerings in her temple of statues, amulets, gold, silver, and mummified cats. Thousands of these cats were found in the crypts underneath her tomb.
During the days of celebration, people would sing and dance and play music all through the town and around the temple of Bast. On the last night, the most amazing part of the festival would take place. The entire town would become still and silent and completely dark. Then, from the temple of Bast, a single candle would be lit, which would light the candles around it and the candle light would then spread through the town, igniting the prayers of all the devotees. The music would again come alive and the celebration would be complete at the end of that night.