Attuning to a goddess of good times and excess, not to mention sensuality, pleasure, sex and drugs, has to be a good thing – right?
These words are taken from the Charge of the Goddess, and sum up a very important aspect of pagan spirituality. Other spiritual paths advocate moderation and even abstinence, butwitches, pagans and nature worshippers of all creeds seek joy in all that they do. They choose temperance over abstinence, balancing work with play in an attempt to gain wisdom. If all acts of love and pleasure are to be our rituals, we could scarcely do better than honouring Bast – a goddess mainly associated with indulgent, intoxicating pleasures such as music, alcohol and fragrant perfumes.
Among the goddesses of Ancient Egypt, Bast is second in popularity only to Isis, the Egyptian patroness of nature andmagic.
Bast may be goddess of love, music and pleasure, but she is also a wild woman who, like a cat, can be merciless. To theEqyptians, Bast was patroness of the sun. Later, the Greeks gave her rulership of the moon. This association with both day and night reflects the duality of her nature.
It is thought that we should pronounce her name as ‘Bast’ and not ‘Bastet’. The Egyptian language evolved so that in later years, ‘t’ was often silent. Scribes added the additional ‘t’ to her name to emphasise that it should be pronounced ‘Bast’ and not ‘Bas’.
Cats are sacred to Bast, and she is often depicted in cat form,or as a woman with the head of a cat. She is also the goddessof women, magic and secrets.
Felines were undeniably sacred to the Ancient Egyptians, who revered not only domestic cats, but also big cats such as lions.The lion-headed goddess Sekhmet, for example, rules over the fate of humanity. It is thought that cats were so important to the Egyptians because they controlled the spread of disease by killing vermin, and harming a cat was considered a greattransgression.
Invoke Bast when your own cats need protection. She can also be a called upon when we need protection ourselves. Cats areinstinctively motherly animals, so when you feel in need of some maternal protection, approach Bast.
To gain her favour, be good to Bast’s sacred animals.
Bast also loves music, dance, and physical pleasures, so enjoymake your acts of love and pleasure her rituals; play music, burn incense and fragrant oils, sing and be merry in her name.Bast can be called on to aid prosperity and well-being in spellwork, and small statues of Bast are available to buy for youraltar. Anoint such statues with essential oils, or use a candlefor the same purpose.
Bast enjoys highly perfumed incense, so choose magical ingredients such as sandalwood, rose petals, cinnamon andpatchouli for hand-blended incense or oil blends burned as offerings to Bast. You could also grow some catnip in your garden. Cats adore catnip and will be attracted to its lemon scented-leaves. Catnip mixes well with rose, sandalwood andmyrrh.
Many pagans are on a path of spiritual growth and understanding, and achieving balance is key to this aspect of self-development. Cats take full advantage of their time to recuperate and be pampered. They are naturally self-centred creatures, unlike humans, who are often overworked and overcome with worry. It’s our right to enjoy safety, rest and pleasure, too. Cats balance plenty of sleep and play with a killer instinct and honed senses. We would do well to emulate them more often, and we can attune with them through connecting with their cat-headed patroness, Bast.