The "Modern" Bast
The Mother of All Cats
Bast was once a lion-goddess of the sun and as Patricia Monaghan says, "Later her image grew tamer: she became a cat carrying the sun, or a cat-headed woman who bore on her breastplate the lion of her former self." 1
Practitioners of Kemetic Orthodoxy (the original Egyptian religion) do not agree with modern interpretations of the meaning of Bast to the original devotees of the Kemetic faith. The modern Bast is celebrated as a Goddess of sex, love, fertility, joy, health and other worldly things. She is often associated with Sekhmet and seen as a sex goddess. However, the Kemetic devotees describe her differently and in a much less worldly and human way.
"As the Eye of Ra, Bast acts as his personal "hitman" - ripping out the hearts of the transgressors of Ma'at and delivering them personally to His and the Pharoah's feet." 2
According to Stephanie Cass, "Bast shares qualities of (rather than acting as a foil to) both Sekhmet and Het-hert in Her role as protector, destroyer, and avenger; witness the dozens of shields belonging to soldiers with her device on them that have been unearthed in Egypt. However, at no time in the history of Kemetic religion were Sekhmet and Bast associated in a 'mother-daughter', 'aunt-niece' or 'big bad lioness/nice kitty' context. The phrase, 'She rages as Sekhmet, She is pacified as Bast,' is a fairly late one (150BCE)." 3
Later, following the Greco-Roman influence on Egypt, Bast become associated with the moon only through her later alliance with Artemis, although she has previously been exclusively solar. The Greeks identified Bast with their Artemis, a Goddess who is solitary, celibate and a hunter. A far cry from the modern interpretation of Bast as a sexual divinity which is most probably a modern interpretation. Cats are often associated with females and female sexuality. Cass says that although Bast is seen as synonymous with sex, it is important that we do not place our modern bias on the way that cats were viewed in Ancient Egypt.
"Sensuality should not be mistaken for sexuality. While Bast may exhibit the former, there is no ancient source to back up the latter."