Bastet is a cat goddess originating in Ancient Egypt. She is usually depicted as a woman with the head of a cat, as a cat in itself, or as a lioness. Sometimes, Bastet is shown holding a sistrum (a type of musical instrument) or a basket full of kittens.
Cats were highly revered in ancient Egypt, and Bastet was one of the most popular deities. She was believed to have the power to protect against evil spirits, and her image was often used in talismans to ward off evil.
Bastet is associated with fertility and motherhood, and her temples were often used for healing rituals. This Egyptian goddess was also worshipped as a protector of the home and family. Other of Bastet’s roles included being the protector of Lower Egypt and the defender of the king, the god of pregnancy and childbirth, and the provider of protection against contagious diseases.
Bastet was originally an Egyptian war goddess and represented as a lioness. After the arguably partial domestication of the cat, she became known as the cat goddess. The transition from a warrior lioness to a more gentle cat likely started because Bastet was conceptually separated from her more vicious-warrior sister, Sekhmet.
The Greeks occupied Egypt for 275 years, from 305 to 30 BC. During this period, known as the Ptolemaic Dynasty, a significant cultural exchange between Greece and Egyptian took place; so much that sometimes they equated Bastet with Artemis – the Greek goddess of the wilderness, wild animals, nature, hunt, vegetation, childbirth, the Moon and, for some reason, chastity.
Find Bastet at the Temple of Bastet
Today, you might find Bastet by visiting the temples that include things dedicated to her. The most famous one is the Temple of Bastet at Karnak, which was built in the 14th century BC. This temple was once the center of Bastet’s cult, and it remains an important site for pilgrims and tourists alike.
Karnak Temple is also one of the most popular tourist destinations in Egypt. Located in Luxor, Karnak was built over a period of over 1,000 years and is home to some of the most impressive ancient Egyptian architecture. Despite its age, the temple is still in relatively good condition and is worth a visit if you’re in the area.
Before You Go
Today, Bastet is still worshipped by some people in Egypt, and her image can be seen in many homes and businesses as a protection against evil. She is also popular in the wider world, and her image is often used in cat-themed merchandise. If you’re interested in learning more about Bastet and the ancient Egyptian religion, there are a number of books that can provide you with more information, including this one.
Finally, if you are looking to get in touch with Bastet, consider making a pilgrimage to one of the sacred sites dedicated to her. And don’t forget to bring an offering for Bastet – she loves cats! Ok, don’t do that.
Zivie, A., & Lichtenberg, R. (2005). The cats of the goddess Bastet. Divine Creatures: animal mummies in ancient Egypt, 106-19.