My favorite, most meaningful Christmas present this year was a small Egyptian "Bastet" cat sculpture that my mom brought home from Germany, from the house of her sister, who just passed away.
I didn't know anything about this mythological creature, but my mom had printed out some online information to go along with the sculpture:
Bast is the daughter and/or wife of Ra, the God of the Sun.
Bast was responsible for joy, music, and dancing, also health and healing. She also protected humans against contagious diseases and evil spirits.
Her cult can be traced back to about 3200 BC, and she became a national deity when Bubastis became the capital of Egypt in about 950 BC.
Bast expressed the qualities of the lion or cat family, beauty of movement, agility, strength, caution, fidelity to the pride, all of which could equally be interpreted at the spiritual level.
During the New Kingdom (1539 - 1075 BC) she became equated with Sekhmet, the lioness deity of war.
Into the Greek period, she would be equated with the virgin huntress Artemis and considered the protectress of children and pregnant mothers, musicians, and a goddess of all sorts of excess, especially sexual excess.