What is the name of the Egyptian cat god?
To tell the truth, the Egyptian cat god is really a cat and it’s about the Egyptian goddess Bastet o Bast, protector of the human and the home, and goddess of happiness and harmony. This Egyptian divinity had its cult temple in the city of Bubastis, in the eastern region of the Nile Delta, and that’s where they found a multitude of mummified felines in tombs to suit them because they were considered reincarnations of Bastet on Earth , so they could live in the temples, they were sacred cats and when they died, they were mummified as if they were a pharaoh or an Egyptian nobleman.
If you want to know how is the god called cat Egyptian really, how the Egyptian goddess lioness became the Egyptian cat goddess and how cats were considered in Ancient Egypt, keep reading this article and solve all your doubts.
The myth of Sejmet, the lioness goddess
As in all religions, there are a number of myths that serve to explain things that a priori are difficult to understand, and this is the case of the myth of Sejmet or Sehkmet, the Egyptian goddess embodied in a human with lion head y alter-ego of the Egyptian cat goddess.
According to the legend, one day the father of Sekhmet, the great Egyptian god Ra (creator of the world, of humans and gods), being an old man sent one of his eyes to see what was happening on earth. When he saw that after creating them, the humans showed him disrespectful and made fun of him by disobeying the laws he had created, Ra became very angry and decided to punish them by sending his beloved and powerful daughter Sejmet to Earth.
When he came down, Sejmet became a lioness with a thirst for incalculable blood, so he began to devour every human he saw. And the more blood he drank, the more thirsty he had. It was then that his father Ra and his brothers began to worry because, what they wanted was to give a lesson of humility to humans but not extinguish them. So the god Ra spoke with Sekhmet but she ignored him and continued devouring all the humans who crossed his path.
As Sekhmet did not see reason, the god Ra came up with a good idea to tame her, and one afternoon when the lioness goddess was taking a nap, she ordered some humans to pour a bunch of pomegranate wine beside her (famous for get drunk very fast) so that when he awakes he would drink it thinking it was a pool of blood, and it was. When the Egyptian goddess Sekhmet woke up and saw that puddle of wine, thinking it was blood he drank it all and got drunk very fast, which made him realize the catastrophe he was causing on Earth and He came to his senses, transforming himself into the Egyptian cat goddess Bastet. That is why they say that the two goddesses, Bastet and Sehkmet, are opposite and represent the balance of the forces of nature, Sejmet being the destroyer and Bastet the pacifying party.
The Egyptian cat goddess: Bastet
So, the Egyptian goddess Bastet, represented as a human with a cat’s head or simply as a domestic black cat, she became a protector of humans, home and magic. It is said that it protected mortals from plagues, diseases, evil spirits and evil eyes and symbolized the joy of living. It also protected both families and domestic animals living in houses, especially cats, which were considered their representations on Earth.
Each year the Egyptian cat goddess wanted a festival to be held in her honor in which she drank a lot of pomegranate wine, so the humans got drunk unchecked and made big bacchanalia. Thus the Egyptian cat goddess also became symbol of fertility and motherhood and protective of pregnant women. She was usually represented with a musical instrument called sistro, since she loved to see how humans played music and danced in her honor, that’s why she is also considered as the goddess of music and dance.
But be careful, because if humans did not comply with their wishes, Bastet could be enraged and be as bad as Sejmet. Hence the duality between the tender and peaceful kitten, and the ferocious and violent lioness in which you could convert. Being his father Ra a solar god, Bastet personified the warm rays of the Sun and all the beneficial powers that they contributed, unlike the scorching heat represented by Sejmet. Also, the Egyptian cat goddess was also considered the “Lady of the East” which is where the Sun is born, as opposed to the lion goddess also known as “Lady of the West”, which is where the star king dies.
Cats in Ancient Egypt
The first test that demonstrates the coexistence of cats with the Egyptians goes back to the seventh millennium BC, in a tomb in the Predynastic Cemetery of Mostaggeda where they found a human and a cat together inside. According to the experts, the Egyptians tried to tame all the animals they found, but it was not until the third millennium BC that they got it only with the cats. While they managed to tame them, humans admired the character and independence of the kittens, so they treated them as companions and not as an inferior race, knowing that they could not be its owners but their friends.
Thus, cats helped the Egyptians to kill rats and other rodents that came to their homes in search of harvested food, so that thanks to them, humans had food throughout the year. Years later, cats in Ancient Egypt were also used to hunt mainly birds, so they replaced the dog in these tasks.
Humans admired cats for the mysterious, calm and tender but sometimes fierce and defiant character, and the ability to hunt their prey with extreme agility and elegance. Furthermore, according to the Sacred Book of the Dead, the Egyptians believed that Ra, the sun-god creator of all things, took the defensive form of a cat to destroy with a knife the serpent Apophis, god of absolute evil, in the tree Ished of Heliopolis “the night that the enemies of the Lord of the Universe were destroyed”, so they were not only considered the reincarnations of the goddess Bastet but also of her father Ra (the Egyptian cat god) and therefore, cats in Ancient Egypt they were sacred.
Consequently, the Miw or Mau (“cat” in Egyptian) were worshiped and much appreciated by the ancient Egyptians, who preferred to die of hunger rather than eat them. In addition to being buried with their owners, mummified to be reborn in the afterlife as they were and buried with their corresponding funeral rite, the laws of Egypt were very protective and killing a cat was punishable by death.
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