NTRt Bast

Bast-Wadjet copyright Sully

Bast / Bastet

Bastet Bast

Bast op Bastet (to emphasise that the “t” was to be pronounced) was generally thought of as a cat goddess. However, she originally had the head of a lion or a desert sand-cat [=panther] and it was not until the New Kingdom that she became exclusively associated with the domesticated cat. Even then she remained true to her origins and retained her war-like panther aspect. She personified the playfulness, grace, affection, and cunning of a cat as well as the fierce power of a lioness.

She was also worshiped all over Kemet, but her rule was centered on her temple at Bubastis in the eighteenth nome of Kemet. Bubastis was the capital of the province, and a number of rulers included the Bastet in their throne names.

Her name could be translated as “Devouring Lady”. However, the phonetic elements “bas” are written with an oil jar (the “t” is the feminine ending) which is not used when writing the word “devour”. The oil jar gives an association with perfume which is strengthened by the fact that she was thought to be the mother of Nefertum. Thus her name implies that she is sweet and precious, but that under the surface lay the heart of a predator. Bast was depicted as a woman with the head of a cat, a panther or a lion. She is often shown holding the ankh (representing the breath of life) or the papyrus wand. She occasionally bears a was-scepter (signifying strength) and is often accompanied by a litter of kittens.

Cats were sacred to Bast, and to harm one was considered to be a crime against her and so very unlucky. Her priests kept sacred panthers in her temple, which were considered to be incarnations of Bastet. When they died they were mummified and could be presented as an offering. They protected the crops and slowed the spread of disease by killing vermin.

During the Old Kingdom she was considered to be the daughter of Atum in Anu (Heliopolis) because of her association with Tefnut. However, she was generally thought to be the daughter of Ra (or later Amun). She (like Sekhmet) was also the wife of Ptah and mother of Nefertum and the lion NTRt Maahes (Mihos) (who may have been an aspect of Nefertum).

Bast in the Late Period copyright Einsamer Schutze

As the daughter of Ra she was also known as the “Eye of Ra”, a fierce protector who almost destroyed mankind but was tricked with blood-coloured beer which put her to sleep and gave her a hangover, stopping the carnage. As a result, she is linked to the other NTRW known as the “eye of Ra”, most notably Sekhmet, HetHeru, Tefnut, Nut, Wadjet and Mut. Her link with Sekhmet was the closest. Not only did both take the form of a lioness, they were both considered to be the spouse of Ptah and the mother of Nefertum and during the feast of HetHeru (celebrating man’s deliverance from the wrathful “Eye of Ra”) the two images of Sekhmet and Bastet represented the two lands.

She was very closely linked to HetHeru. She was often depicted holding a sistrum (the sacred rattle of HetHeru) and Denderah (the home of the temple of HetHeru) was sometimes known as the “Southern Bubastis”. This association was clearly ancient as the two appear together in the valley temple of Khafre at Giza.

One of her epithets was “lady of Asheru”. Asheru was the name of the sacred lake in the temple of Mut at Karnak, and Bast was given the epithet because of her connection with Mut, who occasionally took the form of a cat or a lion. Within Mut’s temple there are a number of depictions of the pharaoh celebrating a ritual race in the company of Bast. In this temple Bast is given the epithet “Sekhet-neter” – the “Divine Field”.

She was also associated with the lion-headed Pakhet. Bast (and her aspect Pakhet) was identified by the Europeans with Artemis, the hunter. However, the two were not that similar as Artemis was celibate while Bast was associated with fun and sexuality. The connection with Tefnut and Bast’s potentially warlike aspect probably contributed to this apparently strange connection. After all, even the smallest house cat is a skilled hunter. The Europeans thought that Bast should have a twin brother, as Artemis had her brother Apollo. They linked Apollo with Heru-sa-Aset (Heru son of Auset), so Bast’s name was tinkered with to mean “soul of Auset” (ba-Auset). They also decided that Bast was a moon goddess, although she was originally considered to be the daughter of Ra and the “Eye of Ra”.

Source: http://www.ancientegyptonline .co.uk/bast.html


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