Friday, December 20, 2013

A move for the Bastet cat

My Bastet cat, shown at the right of the photo, was an inheritance from my German aunt who had actually visited the Egyptian Museum in Cairo and purchased it there.
Originally, I had Bastet sitting by the ashes of my cat Gracie, for companionship. Then I moved her to my bookshelf, kind of a bookend for my antiquities histories. Upon reading today that she was regarded as the "goddess of ointments and perfumes," I moved her to my perfumes. But then, after reading more, I realized that her "perfume goddess" designation -- after being such a fierce warrior goddess for so long -- was a real come-down only in latter-day Egyptian mythology! Ooops. Still, she looks kinda good with my perfumes so she's gonna sit there for a while. Be cool for a millisec, Bastet! Guarding briefly, not a whole civilization, but rather the history of one girl's emotional life since age 14! (Seriously -- that bottle of Wild Musk Oil at the front is the actual bottle that I got when I was 14 -- still 1/3 full; my first "womanly" perfume after a bottle of Love's Rain Soft lasted me my two years of junior high.)


From Wikipedia:

From the 3rd millennium BC, when Bast begins to appear in our records, she is depicted as either a fierce lioness or a woman with the head of a lioness. ...

Originally she was viewed as the protector goddess of Lower Egypt. As protector, she was seen as defender of the pharaoh, and consequently of the later chief male deity, Ra, who was also a solar deity, gaining her the titles Lady of Flame and Eye of Ra.

Her role in the Egyptian pantheon became diminished as Sekhmet, a similar lioness war deity, became more dominant in the unified culture of Lower and Upper Egypt known as the Two Lands.

Later scribes sometimes renamed her Bastet, a variation on Bast consisting of an additional feminine suffix to the one already present (the "t" of Bast), thought to have been added to emphasize pronunciation; perhaps it is a diminutive name applied as she receded in the ascendancy of Sekhmet in the Egyptian pantheon. Since Bast literally meant, (female) of the ointment jar, Her name was related with the lavish jars in which Egyptians stored their perfume.

Bast thus gradually became regarded as the goddess of perfumes, earning the title, perfumed protector. In connection with this, when Anubis became the god of embalming, Bast, as goddess of ointment, came to be regarded as his wife....
Lower Egypt's loss in the wars between Upper and Lower Egypt led to a decrease in the ferocity of Bast. Thus, by the Middle Kingdom she came to be regarded as a domestic cat rather than a lioness. Occasionally, however, she was depicted holding a lioness mask, hinting at her potential ferocity and perhaps, a reminder of her origin.

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