All Hail the Goddess Bast, Mother of Cats & Magical Ointments! Cannabis Recipe follows this tribute.
Updated: Feb 10
Bast is the Egyptian Goddess of Cats and a powerful Goddess of protection. She was named the bringer of good health and was known as the Lady of magical ointments. She was worshipped as early as the Second Dynasty (2890-2670 BCE)
A Statue of Bast dating between circa 400 and circa 250BC (Late Period-Greco-Roman)
Bast was first depicted to have the body of a woman and the head of a lioness and later depicted as a large female black cat, resembling the form of an Egyptian desert sand cat.
Statue of Bast designed to contain a mummified cat 332–30 B.C. from the Ptolemaic Period
Bast origins are found in the great city of Bubastis, located along the Nile Delta, where her largest cult was found. Another significant cult of the Goddess Bast was located at the capital of ancient Egypt, known as Memphis. The cult of the Goddess Bast spread far and wide and was brought to Italy by the Romans. Evidence of this can be found in Rome, Ostia, Nemi, and Pompeii.
In the mid 90's I had the good fortune to study abroad for a semester in Rome. I decided to study art history there and was taken on some extensive tours of many of the monumental churches in Rome. Often these tours would lead us underground below the churches where we were able to see the sacred sites that the churches were built over top of. I still remember the profound effect that one such tour had on me. As we went underneath the church and descended below the earth's surface a feeling came over me that I was about to encounter something extremely sacred. I did not discover what this was until we went several layers down to the very bottom level where we entered an ancient temple. In the very center of this dimly lit circular temple stood a towering statue of the Goddess Bast! I could not believe my eyes. It was then that I realized the extent of the damage the Romans had done to the pre-existing matriarchal religions, in their effort to destroy any evidence of the existence of the Goddess in her many forms. Yet, here she stood proud and strong and deeply hidden below so as not to distract anyone from the ruling Roman Catholic religion which fought so hard to gain their seat of power. I was so deeply moved to feel the presence of one of my favorite Goddesses and paid my respects to her in gratitude of all she once meant to the land and the people there.
All cats, but especially black cats in ancient Egypt, were considered to be the living form of the Goddess Bast and therefore seen as sacred. All of her temples were filled with cats and when a cat died in Egypt, they were brought to a Bast temple to be mummified and buried within the temple grounds.
Mummified Cat Ptolemaic-Roman Period (332 B.C.–395 A.D.)
Bast’s cult, the Cult of Bastet, dates back to the 5th Century BCE and was located in the town called Bubastis in the Eastern Delta in Lower Egypt. The Cult of Bastet had one of the largest cult followings recorded in Egyptian history.
Site of the Temple of Bubastis
The Temple of Bubastis was surrounded by a body of water known as the Nile River. Ancient Greek Historian, Herodotus described the Temple as follows:
"Temples there are more spacious and costlier than that of Bubastis, but none so pleasant to behold. It is after the following fashion. Except at the entrance, it is surrounded by water: for two canals branch off from the river, and run as far as the entrance to the temple: yet neither canal mingles with the other, but one runs on this side, and the other on that. Each canal is a hundred feet wide, and its banks are lined with trees. The propylaea are sixty feet in height, and are adorned with sculptures (probably intaglios in relief) nine feet high, and of excellent workmanship. The Temple being in the middle of the city is looked down upon from all sides as you walk around; and this comes from the city having been raised, whereas the temple itself has not been moved, but remains in its original place. Quite round the temple there goes a wall, adorned with sculptures. Within the inclosure is a grove of fair tall trees, planted around a large building in which is the effigy (of Bast). The form of that temple is square, each side being a stadium in length. In a line with the entrance is a road built of stone about three stadia long, leading eastwards through the public market. The road is about 400 feet (120 m) broad, and is flanked by exceeding tall trees. It leads to the temple of Hermes." (1)
The annual Festival of Bubastis was the most popular festival in Egypt and was a site to behold!
Herodotus, described the festival in great detail;
“Now, when they are coming to the city of Bubastis they do as follows:-they sail men and women together, and a great multitude of each sex in every boat; and some of the women have rattles and rattle with them, while some of the men play the flute during the whole time of the voyage, and the rest, both women and men, sing and clap their hands; and when as they sail they come opposite to any city on the way they bring the boat to land, and some of the women continue to do as I have said, others cry aloud and jeer at the women in that city, some dance, and some stand up and pull up their garments. This they do by every city along the river-bank; and when they come to Bubastis they hold festival celebrating great sacrifices, and more wine of grapes is consumed upon that festival than during the whole of the rest of the year. To this place (so say the natives) they come together year by year even to the number of seventy myriads of men and women, besides children.” (2)
Cannabis was a popular medicine in ancient Egypt. In 1992, Dr. Svetlana Balabanova, a toxicologist and endocrinologist at the Institute of Forensic Medicine located in Ulm Germany, discovered cannabis pollen on 3,000-year-old Egyptian mummies.
Findings of more research done on Egyptian mummies were published in 1994 by Parsche and Nerlich, and unveiled that the ancient Egyptians did in fact smoke cannabis. Tetrahydrocannabinol, a cannabinoid found in cannabis and responsible for it's psychoactive effects, was found in the lungs of an Egyptian mummy dating back to approximately 950 B.C.
This discovery proved that ancient Egyptians smoked cannabis as well as ingesting it internally.