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Bastet as a seated cat with golden earrings, ancient Egyptian

Bastet, also known as Bast, was a cat goddess of ancient Egypt. She is the daughter of the Sun-god Ra and the sister of the lioness-goddess Sekhmet Her husband is Ptah and she is the mother of Mihos. She was originally depicted as a lioness deity who was the guardian and protector of Lower Egypt, but with the rise of popularity of Sekhmet, Bastet became the goddess of cats and was also associed with the cat-god Mau, an apparition of Ra. Bastet's connection with cats was popularized with the increase in domesticated cats in Egypt and she was also depicted as a priestess with the head-mask of a cat. She is associated with the brave cat deity Mau when she beheads the evil snake-god Apep as he he attempts to kill the Sun-god Ra. Because of the cat's natural ability to combat vermin, Bastet was called upon to battle against vermin, snakes, and diseases, especially in a protective fashion. However, because cats have large litters of kittens, when Bastet is shown nursing her kittens, she is a goddess of motherhood and fertilityfertility who may also be associated with the mother-goddess Isis.

The center of Bastet's cult was found in Bubastis, also known as Tel Basta, and featured large festivals in her honour. Cats were sacred in Egypt; they were often adorned with golden jewelry and were given a great deal of respect in the home, even being allowed to eat directly from the plates of their owners. When a cat died, the event was marked with great mourning and ceremony. Cats were mummified and buried in the temple in Bubastis, although some were buried with their owners.

Bastet is depicted as a spotted or striped female cat. She may be shown in a naturalistic pose, seated on her haunches with dignity, wearing golden earrings, or she may be depicted nursing kittens She may also take on a more emblematic form, holding the knife with which she cuts off Apep's head. The priestesses of Bastet, wearing cat-head masks and close-fitting striped ceremonial gowns, are often shown playing the sistrum, Bastet's sacred instrument. Hoodoo psychic readers, spirit workers, and root doctors who practice in the North African religion of ancient Egypt or contemporary Kemetic Neo-Paganism, and who call upon the netjeru on behalf of clients, may petition Bastet as a fierce protector of the home, for protection from vermin and diseases, and for fertility, seduction. Her name refers to ointment and so she is also the goddess of health care and beauty products.


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