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Bast: Modern Myths
myth: sex and sexuality
That said, some scholars have concluded that the presence of a cat under a woman's chair in funerary images is a sign of her sexual viability in the afterlife. Felines, however, were more commonly associated with bountiful prosperity (cats producing kittens in litters) and protection, not sexuality.
After all, if the ancient Egyptians wished to make a statement about sex and sexuality, they had no taboos preventing them from doing so.
As for Bast as the "Goddess of Lesbians" in antiquity, it's a lie. There is simply no evidence to back up this claim (and if someone claims there is, please have them send me their sources -- I'd love to see them).
Additional ideas that have no known evidence from antiquity: religious prostitution, orgiastic dance rituals, visionary orgasm, or ritualistic stripteases. Religious prostitution appears to be a factor in Sumerian religion, but was not part of Egypt's due to the cultural significance placed upon ancestry and knowing a child's parentage. While dancing was important and female priests were frequently musicians and/or dancers , sex in the temple was considered a heresy; in the literal House of God, it simply didn't happen . And while the idea of ritualistic strippers in a desert culture is amusing, it is a modern one. The ancient Egyptians frequently went around in light, see-through clothing or, alternately, no clothing at all (it was hot, after all).
myth: the pleasure goddess
"Bast, Goddess of Cats and Pleasure" is a title taken directly from the Deities and Demigods sourcebook of the 1st Edition AD&D roleplaying system. It has no basis in appellations from antiquity.
Myth: extant rituals and litanies of Bast
A poem by Dennis Saleh entitled "Oblation" is often mistaken as an authentic litany to Bast. It is not; the so-called Osorkon VII who is accredited as the original author never existed, and while Mr. Saleh has accurately recreated the gait and measure by which Kemetic litanies were written, elements of the poem do not match with ancient Egyptian symbology and philosophy.
Myth: "Mau Bast" as an ancient salutation/invocation
The possible source for this claim? Well, Budge translated "mau" as "to be like". More reliable sources, however, now translate "mau" (m3w) as "appearance/aspect". This leads me to believe that the phrase's inventor was using Budge as a source, or it could be he/she was trying to pronounce the Kemetic word for cat -- "miw".
Whether the phrase means "Cat Bast" or "Aspect Bast", it would be essentially meaningless as a salutation or invocation.
Myth: goddess of the sunrise
This doubles as well to strike down the claims that Sekhmet is a goddess of the sunset and the fierce heat of the sun. Both, as stated many times over in this text, were Eyes of Ra (along with many other female gods). No notable comparisons were made in antiquity to differentiate between the intensity of the two.
Myth: goddess of cats
While the cat was determined to be the most popular expression of Bast in antiquity, to simply narrow Her down into a rattle-shaking kitten herder is missing the point.
Myth: cat worship and the domestic cat
Additionally, while cats were important to the worship of Bast, cats themselves were not worshipped. There is a significant difference between seeing the nature of God in an animal, and worshipping an animal. While the ancient Egyptians doubtlessly cherished animals and saw within them echoes of their God, they no more deified them than Christians deify sheep as symbols of Christ.
Myth: Khonsu and Bast
myth: the moon goddess
Other modern myths have gone further, stating that in antiquity Bast was accredited with the title of "Left Eye of Ra" (in reference to the moon), a title that has to yet to be proven to actually exist in Kemet. As the daughter of the Creator, Bast is much more strongly related to the sun -- as His Eye -- than the moon.
myth: Isis as Bast's mother
Associations between Bast and Aset do exist, however. They are the two gods who preside over the Heliopolitan Nome (according to a Middle Kingdom inscription). In one Late Period inscription, Bast is the wetnurse (i.e., the elder) of Aset (according to Nectanebo II, the last native pharaoh).
myth: Bast and Sekhmet as "sisters"
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Essay copyright © 1996-2010, S.D. Cass; Site copyright © 2013, N. Baan
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