Bastet, the Egyptian goddess of the home, domesticity, women’s secrets, cats, fertility, childbirth, music and dance. Bastet was known to protect the home from evil spirits and diseases, specifically around the protection of women and children. Bastet has been known by many names; B’sst, Ubaste and Bast.
Her name is believed to mean “devouring lady” and “ointment jar.” Bastet’s name was associated with lavish jars – in which Egyptians used to store their ointment used as perfume, linking to the god of perfume and sweet smells, Nefertum, who was believed to be her son; further linking her to the ointment jar.
Bastet was known as major goddess, originally with the head of a lioness warrior goddess of the sun – later on changed to a cat goddess. The symbols that represent Bastet are the Ankh, an ancient Egyptian hieroglyphic ideograph with the meaning of life. An ankh can also represent zest, joy of life and energy. Bastet is often depicted holding a sistrum – symbolizing her role as a goddess of dance, joy and festivity. The lioness symbolized strength and authority. The cat symbolized rebirth and resurrection, because cats are nocturnal they also symbolize the darkness.
Bastet’s parents were believed to be Ra and Isis, it was believed that Bastet was the personification of Isis. As for her partner, in some stories it is believed that Bastet was married to Anubis, in other stories it was Ptah. Her children were Nefertum (god of perfumes) and Maahes (lion god of war), who she had both with Ptah. Her siblings, Tefnut, Shu, Serqet, Hathor, Horus, Sekhmet, Anhum, Ammut and Thoth.
Bastet was represented as a women with a cats head. The domestication of cats happened around 1500 BCE, because of Bastet cats were seen in even high regards and so cats were revered because of their protective nature by virtue of killing varmints that destroy crops.
Bastet was known to take part in battles where she fought protecting the Pharaoh in the form of her twin sister Sekhmet. Sekhmet represents the darker and negative side of Bastet, symbolizing the destructive forces of nature. While Bastet symbolizes all that is pure, good and life giving. Together, the two make up the balance of good and bad.
In a chapter in the Book of the Dead, it is written:
“If this chapter be known by the deceased upon earth, he shall become like unto Thoth, and he shall be adored by those who live. He shall not fall headlong at the moment of the intensity of the royal flame goddess Bast, and the great Prince shall make him advance happily,”
As a protector, Bastet was seen as the fierce flame of the sun who burned the deceased should they fail one of the many tests in the afterlife.
Most households contained a small statue of Bastet as a form of household protection. To keep the house free of snakes and to serve as a healer to ward off infectious diseases. An amulet featuring a mother cat with several kittens suckling or playing at her feet was often given as a...