Bastet | Egyptian Cat Goddess | Symbols, Mythology, Powers

Bastet or Bast
Ancient Egyptian Cat or Lioness Goddess

Ancient Egyptian Cat Goddess of the Home Bastet
(by Gunawan Kartapranata, CC-by-SA 3.0) 


Bastet can be depicted several ways:
1. With the head of a cat
2. As a fierce lioness
3. As a house cat
Bastet sometimes carries or wears the following:
  • An ancient rattle or percussion instrument called the sistrum 
  • A breastplate or 'aegis'
  • A small bag over her left arm
  • A disk-shaped headdress adorned with a cobra's head


Natural protector of ancient Egypt's food source:
Wheat was vital to the ancient Egyptians, so it's easy to see why they worshipped cats. After all, cats are the natural enemies of mice and rats, who are known to destroy grain. For this reason, cats made a good addition to any home, and granaries as well.

Cat mummies:
Cats were so revered that if you killed one, you could be punished by death! They were so beloved, that many cats were even mummified, which according to myth allowed them to live on in the afterlife. One presumes the cats entombed with their owners would carry on their work in the afterlife. In addition, vast cat-specific-cemeteries containing hundreds of cats have been discovered.

This mummified ancient Egyptian cat goddess has a tubular wrapped body and a cat's face drawn on the front. Fabric ears have been added.
Mummified cat, ancient Egypt, 2000-100 BCE
(Wellcome Images cc-by-4.0)

It was said that Bastet possessed the ability to protect mothers during childbirth. As cats are such good mothers with their kittens, she was called upon because her powers of protection were unsurpassed. People liked to wear cat charms for protection, and she was very protective over families. Bastet could fight off chaos using her sharp claws or sometimes even a knife. 

It was believed that Bastet was the daughter of the sun god, Ra. Every day, as Ra pulled the sun across the sky in his boat, she would travel alongside him to protect him. At night, while he slept, she would protect Ra from his worst enemy, the serpent Apep.

Scott Peters is the author of 4 Egyptian adventure novels for kids. He is currently working on book 5, a sequel in the Kid Detective Zet Series.

Scott Peters books, middle grade mystery, Kids ancient Egypt, kids mystery books, mystery of the Egyptian scroll

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