Bast - The Cat Goddess of Egypt
represented the bounty of the harvest.
Bast was not all "sugar and spice," however, and like all supernaturalbeings with nearly unlimited powers she was no one to mess with.Someone who found out the hard way was Apep, the so-called "SnakeKing." When this agent of Chaos tried to swallow Re, the Sun God, Bastcut him to pieces with a big knife, an act she was depicted doing in bothher humaniform and fully feline shapes. The ability of cats to kill snakesand other pests, thus protecting both the homes and the granaries of theEgyptians, was well known, but whether this ability gave rise to thelegend or was explained by the legend is not clear; it is also possible thatthe legend is acultural transliterationof an actual event,perhaps one tribedefeated by another(totem animal vstotem animal) in a pre-dynastic context, orthe interpretation of some cosmic orastronomical event witnessed by the Egyptianpriests at an early period.
Bast is one of the older goddesses of Egypt,the daughter of Re, and it is thought that thecult of the cat began toward the end of the 1stDynasty or at the beginning of the 2nd Dynasty. It's likely, however, that like many other godsand goddesses Bast was worshipped on a tribal level long before the formalization of her cult andthe creation of artifacts that would endure to leave archaeological traces.
Unlike many other supernatural beings, Bast was a friend of humanity, much as was Anubis;interestingly, both of these humanity-friendly gods are present in our lives to this very day by thecommonest of house pets, cats and dogs. Bast protected people not only from sadness (thewarmth of love and the gaiety of music) and hunger, but from illnesses of the body and mind andfrom the actions of ghosts, evil spirits and the demons that were always abroad in the emptyplaces of Egypt. Bast- and cat-shaped amulets were quite popular with people, and offerings weredevoutly carried out at the Temples of Bast, both in Bubastis and in the other cities where her culthad taken hold. One of the customs common among her devotees was to bury mummified cats,either purchased from the priests or beloved departed pets mummified by the priests, either in the
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