I love to explore the Divine Feminine and write about Goddesses. For a list of those, click on the link: Goddesses. In order to become more balanced within ourselves and, through that, to bring greater balance and harmony to the world around us, we must find greater balance between the masculine and feminine energies within ourselves that each one of us possesses, regardless of physical gender or any other ways of self-identification.
Bastet is an Ancient Egyptian Cat Goddess who rules love, beauty, music, self-indulgence and sensuality, as well as protection, cats, perfume and ointments, fertility, pregnancy, children, the arts and warfare. The Egyptian word for cat is Mau and because of this, the breed of cats called Egyptian Mau was named.
They look very much like their ancient ancestors, slim, long-limbed with long, pointed ears. In fact, even before the cat was domesticated during the Second Dynasty, there were already statues of Bastet as a Cat Goddess of even longer-limbed cats with longer ears. Those were probably the wild desert or sand cats that humans worshipped.
Pet cats were adored in Egypt and when one died, the entire family would shave their heads in mourning. Many mummified cats have been found also. It makes sense that the veneration of this animal led to its deification very quickly after domestication.
Which seems inhumane to us and contradictory but made perfect sense to the Egyptians was the ritual of mummifying cats as a sacrifice to the Goddess. These cats were most likely bred in catteries for this purpose until they were sold, killed and given as mummies to the temple as offerings. The logic behind this custom was that the dead cat was to convey a message to the Goddess Bastet and coming from a cat, the Goddess was much more likely to pay attention to it than if it were coming from a human.
Bastet was worshipped as early as almost 5,000 years ago during the Second Dynasty. Her name means She of the Ointment Jar which highlights her connection with self-indulgence and luxury very well. Ointments were expensive and sacred, mainly used by the priesthood and upper classes, rather than the common people. She was originally worshipped in Lower Egypt as a Lion Goddess worshipped in Bubastis and later changed into her cat form.
Throughout the development of Egyptian mythology, Bastet and Sekhmet were closely linked, one being the more gentle, the other the more fearsome one, until they merged and were seen as two aspects of the same Goddess. Sekhmet was the powerful protector and warrior, while Bastet represented the gentler feline qualities of a domesticated Cat, like playfulness, grace, affection, cunning, indulgence and sensuality.
Once Bastet had been accepted as a Cat Goddess, she was depicted as the daughter of Ra and Isis, as well as the consort of Ptah with whom she had a son, Maahes, a Lion God of war. As a fierce protector of Lower Egypt, Bastet was seen as the defender of the king and, therefore, the Sungod Ra and was associated with his eye along with quite a few other deities, mainly feminine ones, such as Sekhmet, Hathor and Wadjet. Thus, Bastet is a solar deity but, in keeping with the Egyptian inclusive, rather than an exclusive worldview, she is also associated with the moon.
Sometimes she was called The Eye of the Moon. For various reasons, like being a more nocturnally active animal, as well as being fertile as a domesticated cat and thus associated with fertility, pregnancy and childbirth, it is not surprising that this lunar connection had been established. As the protector of the home, she was considered to protect from contagious diseases as were carried by her natural prey, rodents like mice and rats, and evil spirits.
Cats are very sensitive to energies and changing atmospheres and thus, Bastet was associated with detecting evil spirits long before any human could and being a living “early warning system” for this purpose. To this day, many spiritually aware people who work with spiritual energies have cats as pets, not only for their grace and loving nature but for their honed abilities to pick up on the slightest changes in energies around them.
A medieval superstition led to cats being condemned as Satan’s spawn by the church and killed as evil spirits. Especially black cats received an undeserved bad reputation because of this fear monger that was designed to control the masses by divorcing them from their own spiritual emancipation.
An annual festival was held in the Goddess’s honour in Bubastis that attracted around 700K visitors each year, all adults of both genders but no children. Everyone was allowed to celebrate, get intoxicated and indulge in sexual intercourse with partners other than their own. Children who were conceived on these occasions were considered to be especially blessed. Lion Goddesses were said to be appeased by feasts of drunkenness in the Egyptian religious culture.
As sweet, precious and self-indulgent as Bastet was in her feline form, there was a lot more underneath the surface. She was by no means an airheaded creature of pleasure but a formidable mother, warrior and strategist. Cats are predators after all and their skill and ruthlessness in playing with their prey before finally killing it serves to show that Bastet is a deity to reckon with. It is not surprising that she is worshipped to this day, often in Pagan and Wiccan communities. In her book, “Circle of Isis: Ancient Egyptian Magic for Modern Witches”, New Page Books, 2002, pp. 70-73, Ellen Cannon Reed talks about her Wiccan coven and their experience in worshipping Bastet.
Cannon Reed describes the Goddess as a Dark Goddess who has crone or hag energies. She explains that Dark Lords and Ladies are not evil or demonic but have much to teach us. However, they will not mollycoddle you, but tell you as it is. Straight up, whether you like it or not. However, they have important and powerful lessons to impart. About her personal experience with invoking Goddess Bastet, she writes that the Goddess seemed about 18 feet in height and very fearsome when angered. At the time, a friend of the coven had a cat that was maliciously injured by a depraved person and when the coven invoked Bastet to aid in the healing of the poor traumatised animal, the Goddess appeared in a fearsome, larger-than-life-sized, all eyes and teeth.
In my own meditations and visions, I have met this beautiful Goddess many times. Being closely connected to feline energies and having grown up with cats from birth, as well as having Jaguar as my first power animal, connecting to feline energies in power animals or deities comes quite natural to me. I have always experienced Bastet to be fierce, yet loving. She always held me accountable but never in a demeaning way. Instead, being stern, she would always tell me that I had it all within me and I needed to stop doubting myself only because I had so many naysayers in my life.
From Bastet, I learned many parenting skills, like teaching my children not to throw a tantrum over sweets at the supermarket’s cash register. She told me to explain to my children, the sweets in the front were more expensive singly in the front and a lot cheaper in boxes of several on the shelves in the store. So we went back there and got a box, then had to queue up all over again and wait in line once more (and queues in German supermarkets are very long because Germany is not a service-conscious country).
My children learned quickly to either think of whatever they wanted to have while we were going through the isles or forgoing our place in the queue, so they decided very quickly to leave it until next time. Other parents seeing my children so well-behaved asked me for parenting tips because they thought I was performing miracles instead of simply teaching my children about consequences in this simple, yet very effective manner.
It is, perhaps, also worth mentioning that a trip to the hairdresser was long necessary and while I was writing this article, I interrupted it to finally go and have my hair cut, something I usually tend to put off because I’d much rather do other things than sit in a chair for ages, having my hair done. This time, I could really indulge in the entire procedure because when I had to keep my eyes closed having my lashes died, I decided to meditate and at once Bastet was with me, chiding me that there was no point working off a selfcare item from my list when I wasn’t actually enjoying the experience.
She said, she had been around for 5,000 years already and would still be there when I returned home and had time to continue to finish this. Her exasperation at my thinking of what I wanted to include in the article still was palpable. So I switched off and instead thought about how pretty I would look once everything was done. I thought about how beautiful I felt and how fortunate it was that I had gone this day as that evening my youngest daughter would arrive back from a five-day class trip to the UK and I would most likely not make the time for another few weeks to have my hair cut which had already grown quite long again.
The Pragmatism of Spirituality
Instead, I sat there, leaning back, feeling how light and bouncy the shorter hair felt on my head and relished the feeling of beautifying myself for once. I thought of our cat Taani and how she was able to enjoy the moment so much, of purring when being stroked and caressed, of doing things just because they felt good to her. And as I channelled this feeling of feline indulgence and Bastet cut in with a, “For Goddess’s sakes, relax woman, your entire body is tense, you need to make more of an effort to relax your muscles!”, I was reminded again of how right she was.
When I felt into my body, something I had neglected to do before, I could feel the tight muscles throughout my body and I went from top to bottom, progressively relaxing them very consciously. Due to this, I was practically floating through the attached supermarket afterwards when I went shopping. Suddenly, people didn’t look stressed or unnerved any longer. I was suddenly surrounded by smiles and kindness, open people striking up a conversation and I even got a coffee for free at another shop I went into later when I picked up my daughter and had some time to kill before the coach arrived at the schoolyard.
All the while, Bastet was with me, smiling and giving off the vibes of raising a brow in this “I told you so and now you know as you’ve finally listened” kind of expression. While I was sitting in the small take away place to keep warm, sipping my coffee, Bastet had more time with me. She imparted some wisdom on me, reminding me to pay more attention to feeling into my body. I am so in my head most of the time that I tend to forget to take time and feel into my physical body as well, not only my mind and emotions.
In that moment, her playful side came to the fore once again, after all the serious talk and she started throwing random body parts at me and I had to feel into them as quickly as possible. After a few times, I got the hang of it and connected to the various parts of my body consciously much quicker. From the left little toe to the right shoulder blade, Bastet sent me all over my body in a wild chase. I felt like a cat hunting a mouse but it was fun. And it is a great game to play with children, too, to teach them to be aware of their body.
Bastet has always been this way with me, learning by doing, we would call it. Her wisdom teachings have practical applications are easy to implement in daily life. She is not like those deities who are all about abstract concepts and are all mental. Bastet is a very wise Goddess, straight forward and can be a bit of a drill sergeant when you don’t do the things the way she expects you to and not at the speed she tells you to. However, this doesn’t mean that the wisdom she imparts is wholly mundane. She knows about magic just as much. However, it is a lot more meaningful to her when applied in a practical context.