The Egyptian Goddess Bastet.

tumblr_mkiwkrcbHM1rc3z3ro1_500

Ahhhh, the good old days! When cats were cats, and humans knew their place.

John_Reinhard_Weguelin_–_The_Obsequies_of_an_Egyptian_Cat_(1886)

Friends, thinking about Boubastis and ancient Egypt earlier this week reminded me of one of my favorite personages from those hoary days of yore – Bastet (aka: Bast, aka: Oubaste), cat-headed goddess of warfare and protection:

tumblr_ndno43ujtY1ttn4pio1_400

Cat-Ancient-Egyptian-Bronze-Cat

bastet-with-aegis-sistrum-black-YT-5312_zps128be616bast7

I will never understand why the Egyptians felt the need to mar the perfection of the feline form with human attributes (see also: the sphinx), but at least they didn’t associate their gods with us by making us their slaves!

freyja-riding-cats-1024x836

(Norse cult of Freya, I’m looking in YOUR direction…)

 

The Egyptians appealed to Bast/Bastet for aid in warfare, for defense from enemy invasions, for protection from diseases and evil spirits, for aid in conceiving and bearing children, and as patroness of the precious ointments which Egypt so valued.

images

Of particular note is her role as goddess of fertility and childbirth – a natural extension of her felinity, since female cats have always been recognized (however grudgingly by dog-lovers) as paragons of motherly care and tenderness.

bast-kittens-YTC-8259 001OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

mom-cat-with-kittenMother-cat-holding-her-kitten-because-a-hug-is-worth-a-thousand-words

There is much speculation as to the origins of this particularly fetching goddess, but the end result was that all cats were believed to be gods in their own right and the murder of us – however unintentional – constituted a capital offense in ancient Egypt. Is it any wonder the Egyptians are still regarded as a pinnacle of ancient, dignified civilization? I am reminded of a particular poem by Yeats in which that Irish poet avers: “Though pedantry denies, / It’s plain the Bible means / That Solomon grew wise / While talking with his queens.” I think we can say with confidence that this is also how the Egyptians grew so great – all peoples are enhanced by due reverence for felinity.

6f8c6264664b96af3b166186f50f9556

Advertisements
Standard

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s