~~ Cats and world mythology ~~ specific info. acquired from google.com ~~


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~~ Cats and world mythology ~~ specific info. acquired from google.com ~~

  1. 1. Cats and World Mythology "I have studied many philosophers and many cats. The wisdom of cats is infinitely superior." Hippolyte Taine Cats have been the protagonists of myths and legends from all over the world. Some have worshipped them, some have condemned them, and today people are idolising them again, though maybe not with that fervor of the Ancient Egyptians. "It all started in Ancient Egypt... ...when the Egyptians started identifying the lions that roamed around their land with the Sun. They believed that at sunset, Ra, the Sun God, would die and descend through the underworld in the West, to be born again in the East, at sunrise. During the night, however Ra was always in great danger, as his enemies, headed by the great serpent Apophis would not hesitate to attack him, thus putting the whole Universe in danger. However, the lions would look unto the setting sun, and keep its rays in their eyes, for they, like domestic felines, have eyes that reflect in the dark. With that fire burning in their eyes, the lions would go forth and kill the serpents of the night, as we were going to do afterwards, when the domestic cat was bred in the temples of the Black Land (Kemet, the name applied by the Ancient Egyptians to their country). With the image of the lion in mind, the Egyptians built the Sphinx, a huge effigy of the Sun God, with the body of a lion and the head of a Pharaoh, and they also worshipped the goddess Sekhmet, who with the head of a lion (see picture) was the goddess of war, who descended to the earth to destroy the enemies of Ra, and was known as the Eye of Ra. Amongst the list of Egyptian feline goddess .... ; Tefnut, a lion headed goddess whose name means Moisture and represents one of the most primeval forces of creation; and Mafdet, a goddess of protection. In an Ancient Egyptian spell which repels snakes, the protection of Mafdet is invoked: 'O cobra, I am the flame which shines on the brows of the Chaos-gods of the Standard of Years. Begone from me, for I am Mafdet!'
  2. 2. However, the domestic cat was specifically claimed to be under the protection of Bast. Bast, like Sekhmet was often said to be the daughter of Ra, and she was the protector of cats and those who took care of cats; her gifts were joy and pleasure. Her cult was centred in the city of Bubastis (called Per-Bast, or House of Bast, by the Egyptians), where, once her temple stood. The Greek historian, Herodotus said "there is no temple more beautiful than that of Bubastis". Bubastis also housed a necropolis where hundreds of mummified cats were buried. She also had an annual festival, which seems to have been one of the most popular in the whole of Egypt, accompanied by loud music and chanting. She is often represented either as a woman with a cat's head, or as a cat. The significance of Bast can only be understood by comparing her to Sekhmet. Indeed, there is evidence that the Egyptians viewed them as aspects of the same divine force - Sekhmet being the violent aspect of the divine sun, and Bast being its gentler aspect. However, while Bast is recently growing in popularity, it must be remembered that Egyptian deities were not without their macabre side. In an Egyptian legend, which talks about the search for the Book of Thoth, one of the characters is a mysterious seductress who is a priestess of Bast. She seduces Prince Setna, telling him: 'Be joyful, my sweet lord, for I am destined to be your bride .......... . The quote above also sheds light on a popular concept amongst Egyptian women seems to have been that the ideal beauty was that of a cat. The make-up they used accentuated particular features, especially the eyes, which gave them a mysterious cat-like look. Often children were consecrated to Bastet - a cut was made on their arm and drops of cat blood poured into it. A marble coffin of a royal cat refers to the cat contained inside it as "Lady Cat". A human who killed a cat, even accidentally, was put to death, and when a cat died, the owners used to shave off their eyebrows as a sign of mourning. In the tomb of Tutankhamun, the image of a serene Bast was found on a gilded shrine, housing the royal coffin. One of the discoverers of Tutankhamun's tomb, Lord Carnarvon, is said to have become interested in Egyptology after discovering a cat coffin. The increase in internation trade with Ancient Egypt, especially by Phoenicians and Romans, spread cats to other lands, from Egypt to Europe and Asia. In these countries, cats have their own stories too. In the meantime, the domestic cats in Egypt are still highly respected, for in that land, the bond between cat and human is now eternal, with cats walking among the streets in the market place, where till today, the images of Bast are still being offered to tourists, as they must have been offered once, a long time ago, to pilgrims, who would have been going to the annual celebration of Bast!
  3. 3. Want to learn more about Bast? The Cat Goddess Bast www.per-bast.org Who is Bast really? "Then with the Norse... ... cats were associated with Freyja. The name Freyja (alternatively spelt Freija, Freiya, or Freya) means 'the Lady', and she is the mistress of magic (her particular form of magic being called Seidh, a system involving trance and very similar to shamanism). The day Friday is named after her. Her personal transport is a magnificent chariot, drawn by two large grey cats. Freyja picture by Kris Waldherr, creator of the Goddess Tarot: http://www.artandwords.com/goddesstarot/ More info at: http://freyja.freehomepage.com/ http://www.thorshof.org/freyapic.htm