goddess spotlight: bastet

Bastet has recently become one of my favorite goddesses. She’s more than just another love goddess. If you’re not familiar with the deities of the Egyptian pantheon, I highly recommend reading up on them. They are some of the most fascinating and beneficial deities to work with on a wide variety of areas of life.

But, back to Bastet.

History

Bastet (also Bast) is the Egyptian goddess of love, sexuality, fertility, music, dancing, and war, but also lotions and perfumes. She is typically depicted in Egyptian art and writing as either a cat or a beautiful woman’s body with the head of a cat.

There are sources that point to her being worshipped in Egypt as far back as 3200 B.C.

Some historical sources point to her being the daughter of Isis and Ra, but most just depict her as the daughter of Ra alone. The hieroglyph that represents her is also the same that represents the ointment jar, which is why she is associated with lotions, oils, and perfumes.

She was said to be the wife of Ptah, the god of architecture and craftsmen. She was closely associated with the goddess Hathor, who was also associated with love, music, fertility, dancing, and intoxication.

There is also some indication that she was originally a lioness goddess, and at some point, she and her sister Sekhmet became two separate goddesses with different attributes.

In addition to her associations above, she is also a goddess of cats, highly revered animals in Egypt.

Bastet is a solar deity, and, therefore has attributes of all the planetary bodies, which she can manifest under certain conditions.

Bastet could also be a vengeful goddess, taking vengeance on the enemies of the Pharaoh when called upon.

She is commonly shown holding a sistrum, a musical instrument commonly used in ancient times.

Bastet was most commonly worshipped during huge celebratory festivals in her honor. These occurred several times per year, and women attending the festivals were said to ride large ships up the Nile river, partying, dancing, drinking, and exposing their genitals to others on the river banks as they sailed past.

She was petitioned to protect households from evil spirits and thieves, as well as a protectress of pregnant women. People also had their pet cats mummified after they died, in honor of Bastet.

Bastet was said to have slain Apep, an underworld serpent god of chaos, who was also the enemy of her father, Ra.

At some point, as the Greek pantheon and Egyptian pantheon began to take on associations of their counterparts, Bastet also was likened to the goddess Artemis, and therefore became associated with the moon, in addition to also being a solar deity.

Associations

  • Cats
  • Patron of: dancers, musicians, possibly other performance artists, mothers, and healers
  • Fertility, Love, Femininity, Beauty, Pregnancy, Sexuality, Intoxication, Dancing, Music, Protection, War, Vengeance
  • Sensual pleasure
  • Perfume
  • Lotions, oils
  • Colors: Green, Red, Gold, Turquoise
  • Planets: all, depending on the day of the week; especially rising sun
  • Incense: Myrrh, Frankincense, Jasmine, Cinnamon, Sandalwood, Vervain, Lavender
  • Herbs: catnip, cattail, yew, cypress
  • Crystals or metals: gold, pyrite, lapis lazuli, red jasper, red agate

There’s really a huge body of content and information out there if you want to get more about Bastet, so if this has piqued your interest, I highly encourage you to search out more information, and even maybe check out some of the Khemetic resources on Bastet.