Goddess Column: Bastet
Fiercely protective and divinely mysterious, Bastet is the ancient Egyptian goddess of protection, fertility and cats. Also known as Bast, this goddess reminds us of our depths, our ability to be both loyal and cut throat like the lion, and proud and domesticated like the cat. Most recognized as having a cat’s head and a woman’s body, Bastet wasn’t always so tame. In 3000 BCE she was represented by a lioness, with the head of a lion and the body of a woman; she was the protector of the Pharos. In 1000 BCE, we see her iconography and imagery shift, and instead of a lion we see her with a domesticated cat’s head. This also symbolizes her shift from protecting Pharos to protecting households, families and women.
Bastet consciousness and energy is the energy of unapologetic protection, devotion and love. She is the mother who’s always watching, energetically supporting you and keeping all the demons at bay. In her lioness state we see her strength in its fullest force, helping even those deemed divine find safety. A lion isn’t afraid to use its power, and the same is said for Bast. In her more docile state as a cat headed goddess, we sense her blessings and safeguard of the home and all those who dwell in it. Also associated with fertility, Bastet becomes a mother goddess in this way, embodying that face of the triple goddess to shield, nurture and guard children and women, especially from harm.
Domesticated cats were held in extremely high esteem in ancient Egypt, to the point where there were serious punishments if you harmed one. And in the temple of Bastet in her city of Bubatis, mummified cats were discovered alongside many sculptures of the animals, which were probably left as offerings. Bastet is the patron goddess of cats and felines, and in this way she also embodies this intuitive, mysterious and fiercely independent energy. You can’t tell Bastet what to do, you can’t demand she does anything. But if you give her space, invite her in, leave an offering and wear a ferociously dedicated heart, that you’ll be able to feel her power and her roar with ease.
When we work with this goddess, we’re committing to protect ourselves, our hearts and our loved ones. While she is also the patron of mothers and their children, you don’t have to be a mother or have a child to work with her. Creative projects, art, or anything else you’re sharing with the world can use a loving and guarding hand with Bastet. When we connect to this energy, we’re connecting to the intense energy of the divine feminine who answers to herself. We’re connecting to the unbridled power of the protector of Pharos. We’re connecting and dedicating ourselves to the unconditional love of the great mother.
Sacred Symbols and Offerings:
Working and honoring a goddess is more than anything, a relationship. A really beautiful way to start this connection is to create an altar in dedication of a deity. This will serve as an energetic focal point for your work with a goddess. Here you can pray, leave offerings, work magick and focus on your work and intention. Creating an altar is a deeply intentional and personal act and will hopefully help you create an intimate relationship with Bastet. In ancient Egypt, icons of Bastet were placed in the home as a source of protection, and you can adopt this practice as well, with either statues or photos. You can also create a relationship with this goddess by meditating with her, researching or spending time with cats, and creating and devoting rituals of protection in her honor.
Try dedicating a crystal to her. Leave offerings of meat or milk on your altar. Create art in her honor, embrace your inner feline by wearing a cat eye or a collar.
Crystals: Gold. Brightly colored jewels; citrine (for prosperity), Turquoise (for healing), garnet (for sexuality) carnelian (for power) and black tourmaline (for protection.)
Colors: Gold, jewel tones like bright yellow, sacral chakra orange, turquoise, green, opal
Sacred Associations: Cats, lions, the sun (in many myths, Bastet is daughter of the sun god Ra.) She’s shown in imagery with the sistrum, or rattle.
Offerings: Milk, meat, honey, cat statues, perfume, gold
A Meditation to Meet Bastet:
You may read over this and then perform this simple guided meditation or you can record yourself reading it if you’re scared you’re going to forget something.
Find a comfortable seat, and start to come back to your breath. Let all distractions slip away and breathe into the present moment. Breathe in and out for five counts each, in long even breaths, feeling your tummy fill with air as you inhale and deflate as you exhale. Do this ten times, finding more and more stillness in each breath. Then start to imagine the desert. The sun shining on your skin, your feet digging into the warm sand. Notice your surroundings; what do you see? Is it flat? Are there things in the distance? Keep looking and then notice a cat walk in front of you. Follow it. Let it lead you where it likes. Suddenly you notice the cat shape shifting; it’s not a cat, but Bastet. Even with her cat head and human body, you can still feel the strength and radiance that comes from this goddess. You’re overtaken and bow humbly to the goddess. Talk to her. Ask her what you like. But remember, she is a goddess and deserves respect. You can ask her for blessings, or protection, or just thank her for all she’s done to help protect you and your kin. Stay here as long as you like, letting her lead you if you choose. When you feel ready, you may thank her, leave her an offering, walk back into the desert and open your eyes.
A Protection Ritual For Your Home:
Bastet is the protector of the hearth and home, which means she’s the ideal goddess to work with in a protection ritual for your space! Plus if you have cats, or are thinking of getting one, this is a beautiful way to also honor them, and create a relationship with Bastet through that.
You’ll Need: A photo or statue of Bastet to place at your altar or near the entrance of your home. Sandalwood, copal, frankincense, mugwort to cleanse with, a lighter, and a shell or bowl. Any crystals you want to dedicate like black tourmaline, turquoise or clear quartz. An offering like milk, meat, wine, or perfume.
Step 1: Ground and banish
Make sure that all pets are taken care of, doors are locked, roommates and significant others know to not disturb you…etc. You can put some ambient music on, or drumming or something non distracting if you wish.
When you are ready, stand inside your home facing your front door, with your chosen herb, dish and lighter next to you. Close your eyes. Start to connect to your breath, breathing in for five counts and out for five counts, feeling your belly rise and deflate. Start to feel the earth beneath you, and imagine your feet growing roots into the earth, all the way into her core. This support is always with you and you can return to it and your breath whenever you need. Imagine the energy of the earth moving up your spine and connecting to the cosmos above you. This channel of white light cleanses you and when you feel centered, you open your eyes.
Perform the banishing pentagram with whatever hand feels most comfortable, from mid thigh up to your head. This is a five pointed star that begins and ends with the left lower corner (so up, down to the right, over diagonally to the left, straight across to the right, and then down to the left.) Imagine a blue fire left where you outlined, a sigil of protection.
Step 2: Cleanse and Call
Grab your cleansing herbs, light them so there’s some smoke and walk the perimeter of your space, clockwise if you can, asking for anything that doesn’t work in your absolute highest favor to leave. Continue cleansing your entire space like this, envisioning a white light cleansing any energies that aren’t necessary. When you’re ready, place your herbs down somewhere safe and gather the photo or statue of Bastet and find a comfortable seated position in front of it. You can close your eyes and call on her for protection, or recite something like the following:
Oh great protectress, great goddess Bastet. I call upon you know to protect this hearth and home, as you protected the Pharos. May you bestow your protection on all those who enter and live here. May our devoted and fierce hearts bow in gratitude for you and all your blessings. Oh great goddess, so it is!
Step 3: Charge any Crystals and Leave an Offering
If you have a crystal you want to dedicate for protection, or to Bastet as an offering, now is the time to do so. Close your eyes and imagine shrinking so your stone is bigger than you are. Imagine a door into your stone. Step into it. Take time to look around and notice anything and then tell your crystal your intention for your relationship, aka charge it! Thank your crystal whenever you feel ready, exit through the door you came in and open your eyes.
Leave an offering for Bastet on an altar or near your entrance. You can make or buy perfume, leave wine, milk, meet or honey, or a crystal. If you leave out food- before you throw it away, just let Bastet know that the offering is done and thank her, imagining any energy in the offering dissolving into the cosmos.
Step 4: Banishing Pentagram and Ground
After leaving an offering, move back to the front door and repeat the banishing pentagram, imagining the blue light shining even brighter. This is an energetic barrier of protection for all those who enter and leave this house. Close your eyes and imagine the roots from before moving back into the earth, and dissolving. If you like, you can press your forehead into the earth in child’s pose and imagine any excess energy moving back into the earth that way.
When you’re done, thank Bastet and enjoy your protected space! You can do this ritual whenever you need some protection, and if you want to continue working with Bastet consider devoting a candle or some incense to her that you can burn in your home.
Chakrub: The Indian Jade Root
If you want to embody the protective and grounded magick of Bastet, then why not trying exploring with the Indian Jade Root? This intended for external massage and anal exploration is made with green aventurine, a supportive and heart opening stone that lets us connect to ourselves and move with confidence. This stone can help us harmonize relationships as well as find love, whether that’s for ourselves, or for someone else. This motherly stone can help us release old patterns and behaviors, helping us embody the wisdom of Bastet through sensual self-exploration and play, all the while aiding us in dissolving blocks that are stopping us from living in a heart-centered way.