Prowling With Goddess

Bast carved from 'found' antler

Bast carved from ‘found’ antler

I was touched during meditation by a presence, by how I see Bast — as Goddess, energy and archetype — and by how most cats manifest full embodiment of introversion in a wide spectrum.

I have usually tried to be ‘me’ ever since aging out of my late teens and early 20s, but it felt, in hindsight, like I was always defensive, always pushing ‘this is me’ in a like-it-or-lump-it hardness rooted in reserve, introversion and/or the insecurity of an introvert trying to live in an extroverted society. Whereas, now, I am feeling more softness coming in and slipping around the essence of ‘this is me’ — way less defensive/aggressive energy twinges. This is a good revelation. I look back and see myself with a lot of walls, putting myself out there as me but with this sort of false expression. I don’t know how to describe it, because it wasn’t a confrontational attitude necessarily. It was an insecure sort of stance; like dual personality, like I was wearing a costume and playing a role and yet the essence of that role was really the authentic me. Like a cat wearing a cat-suit. It’s bizarre. And that was when I wanted a cat, too … not to bond with per se but more to honor that mode of being.

Bast encompasses for me the traits of grace, flexibility, privacy, strength, and balance in Her approach to living in form. She is about self-reliance and full acceptance of self yet She can also mingle with community without being absorbed into it — She always retains her authenticity and autonomy no matter what. Within Herself, She is whole. And Her strength is not always apparent; She can be different than how She sometimes appears, suddenly springing hidden qualities. She is incredibly patient because She puts all that She is into each moment, listening, waiting, watching, yet can act in an instant when the time comes. I really aspire to that controlled fire, the drive to put Her all into action when the perfect moment has arrived — the moment born of instinct, intuition. Quick, agile, at ease balancing on the fence, she holds the positive attributes of radiant energy. And she has discernment, to know exactly when that ripe time comes.

Bast takes a different approach to protection than Sekhmet. Bast protects, but is more cautious, elusive and subtle; she watches and steps carefully because she is also very aware of her own vulnerability in that She doesn’t have a family/pride to watch her back or help her survive or bring down prey. Bast does not pretend to be anything other than who she is — she is definitely not a weaker version of Sekhmet. She knows her own nature, and honors her own set of talents and skills. She is within community at times but primarily remains isolated, and welcomes her ability to move in and out of other communities like a shadow. She is adaptable to any environment; her subtlety allows this whereas Sekhmet doesn’t have this particular gift.

Bast has pointed ears and Sekhmet rounded; clearly, they are differentiated deities and that is my sense of them as well. They are not simply Upper and Lower Egypt versions of the same Goddess. Images — from paintings to statues or figurines — of the Goddesses were made very carefully and I cannot conceive that the artists would accidentally render them incorrectly or overlap energies inadvertently. Their image creates a unique distinction that visually sets them into separate realms and energies.

Bast carved from 'found' antler

Bast carved from ‘found’ antler

The image of Bast is of the sand cat or wild cat which is a different creature in many ways than the lion — being nocturnal more than the lion, solitary rather than living in prides, and so hunting, being, protecting, living in a different way than the lion. I feel this individuality indeed has an effect upon how the two Goddesses were portrayed in Egypt and shows, perhaps, once again how spirituality — our alignment and resonance — regarding certain deities alters through time. Sekhmet the Lion is bold, prominent and doesn’t hesitate to roar, while Bast the Wild Cat or Sand Cat is subtle, elusive and hushed. This is significant in understanding and relating to them, and can clarify how each of us may be drawn to the side of one or the other. I greatly admire Sekhmet but to try to draw within myself her power would overwhelm me. Bast, in her subtlety, is very much familiar to me.

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