More about Goddesses: The Egyptian Goddess Bast
by Tim Kavi
Bast is an influential goddess in Egyptian mythology, representing sensual pleasure. Bast also acts as the guardian saint of firefighters, protector of the household and a bringer of wealth. Bast may also be known as Basthet or Bastet and is widely represented as the cat goddess. Due to her role in protecting Ra, her father, from his enemies, she has also taken on the role of the All-Seeing Eye. This is occasionally represented as the Goddess of the Rising Sun or Lady of the East.
Bast is one of the most ancient goddesses, she is depicted in many versions of Egyptian art. She is frequently depicted as a beautiful, slender woman with the head of a cat. The grounds of her temple hold a large cat cemetery where her companions could be mummified or entombed to join her in the spirit world. Cats are frequently honored at her temple, many taking up permanent residence. These cats were known to run into local homes when they caught fire, leading the residents to safety, which led to Bast’s association with fire-fighting and protection of the home. Some say that cats that lost their lives in this undertaking could be brought back to life by Bast’s power, which may be the source of the belief that cats have multiple lives.
During the day, Ra would fly through the sky, using his boat to pull the sun through the sky. When darkness falls Bast transforms into a cat, taking advantage of the creature’s superior night vision to watch for Apep, a serpent that acts as Ra’s greatest enemy. Legend has it that Bast was able to kill the serpent when the priests of Ra failed to hex him with the sacred wax models. Due to this dual nature of her story, Bast is one of few sun goddesses that is also known as a moon goddess. Her sacred all-seeing eye reflects the light of the moon, protecting her followers from enemies in the darkness.