I thought I would take a little bit of time today to talk about one of the goddesses that has impacted my life greatly over the years.
Bast, or sometimes called Bastet, is the cat-headed goddess worshiped by ancient Egyptians and many modern pagans. The Greeks associated with her with the goddess Artemis. She is the goddess associated with protection, healing, joy, music, dance, pleasure, magick, motherhood, and fertility. She is the daughter of the sun god Ra, which gives her an association with the Eye of Ra. Though thought to be a more gentle feline deity than Sekhmet (lion-headed warrior goddess of healing and destruction), she is also a fierce goddess, with titles such as “Slaughterer” or “Devourer”. She and Sekhmet are defenders of the marginalized, and she is sometimes seen as a protectress of Ra, fighting against the demon Apophis as Ra travels through the skies on his sun barge. In later years, she became more commonly worshiped as a domesticated goddess, associated more with healing, motherhood, fertility, and the joys of life. Bast feels like that protective mother that shields her children from danger. This is all the cliff notes version, of course. I am mainly here to talk about my experiences with her.
I first met her while I was in graduate school, and I met her in the middle of death surrounding me – quite literally. I was in the middle of my Master’s program. Right around the halfway point of my program, my grandfather (who had raised me as his own child) passed away due to advancing Alzheimer’s disease. Even though I knew it was coming, this was a devastating blow to me. I had always been incredibly close to him, and he’d had so many influences on my life, including my pagan practice. Exactly three months (to the day) later, I lost one of my best friends who had lost a battle with Cystic Fibrosis and complications with a double lung transplant. Two weeks later, my aunt (more like a big sister to me) passed away from worsening rheumatoid arthritis of the lungs. It was a new low for me. I wait straight down a spiral of grief and depression, despite knowing in my heart that death is never the end.
At some point, and I wish I had kept better records of how, Bast came around to me. Perhaps it was in a dream, or seeing signs. I honestly cannot remember. I just know that She became a huge part of my life and my interests. At a time when I need love and comfort, She gave me that which I sought, and I was comforted having her around. Asking something of a deity requires something to be given in return. It’s not a one way street; gods will not beckon to our call. However, She agreed to work with me. But it came with a bargaining price. Just as a cat would expect its kittens to learn to be independent, so did She. As I dealt with my grief, I slowly came out of my depression, and She was there to support me along the way. Having that tough motherly love was exactly what I needed to get out of my self-pity.
I began to work with her more and more. I left offerings of catnip (which may sound silly, but it’s a common offering), prayed to Her, and dedicated my time to learning more about Her. She became a large part of my practice for a number of years, and I even dedicated myself to Her for a time – a time of of about 7 or 8 years. I knew from the start that it wouldn’t be a permanent relationship, though, at the time, I didn’t know how long She and I would work together that closely.
A statue of her sat on an altar dedicated to her. She was an integral part of my daily practice. And though that time has since passed, she is a goddess I still greatly admire and incorporate into my practice from time to time. I still have the same statue of her displayed in the house. My friend that I currently lived with is a devotée of Bast, so there are quite a number of representations of Her scattered throughout the house.