I think it is safe to say that Bast was the first goddess I was ever introduced to. I read a lot as a child and some of the first books I remember reading were about cats. I checked out several from my school library that were all about cats and later on when I got a library card for the public library, that didn’t really change.
She wasn’t ever mentioned in great detail and even her name in those books was different: Pasht. I don’t think I started seeing Bast/Bastet until years later. But the name Pasht/Bast and cats were forever linked in my mind.
My cat Violet died two days ago. She died at home, as comfortably as I could possibly make her. She took ill rather suddenly and within a few days I could tell there was little hope left for a turn-around. She and I laid on the bed and I told her it was alright for her to go. I told her that I loved her and would stay with her. Shortly after that, I placed her on a soft towel and took her outside. We sat under the maple tree in the backyard and I held her and sang to her. My boyfriend brought out a small table and my statue of Bast and the candle I have had burning for Violet (without my asking — he’s awesome like that) as well as a few more small things I requested for the makeshift altar and rite of passing.
Death is never easy, it’s rarely dignified, and it takes great effort to try and make it peaceful and gentle. Lighting the candle and speaking to Bast at that moment was a great comfort, to me and to Violet. Every time Bast has been invoked, she’s come, and even if my cats weren’t in the room at the time, they never missed one of her appearances. My boyfriend equated their behavior to the scene in “Elf” when Buddy hears that Santa is coming. He changed the exclamation and imitated the cats’ excitement as they darted in like hyper kittens and looked around at things I sometimes saw, but more often felt. Their eyes never missed a moment of it.
“Bast?! Bast is coming?! I KNOW her!”
He came out later and sat with she and I. When it seemed Violet would be more comfortable laying down instead of being held, I put the towel on the grass and placed her on it. I have a string of bells, tiny tinkling ones, that I rang over Violet and then circling around the statue. Bast is often depicted holding a sistrum, but since bells are the closest thing I have to such, that’s what was used. I also learned a long time ago that ringing bells for deceased animals helps their spirit to cross over.
So the bells rang.
I asked Bast to please watch over Violet and guide her home where she could soak up as much sun as she wanted, move freely and play as she had before sickness claimed her, and be free.
My request was granted and Violet passed. I performed final funeral rites while my boyfriend prepared her grave. I managed to hold it together for most of the night, but as bedtime rolled around and my vibrating heating pad wasn’t in her usual spot at my feet, I realized how empty I felt. I got up, cried for longer than I really remember, and picked up my statue. Holding Bast tightly, I whispered what I was feeling and thinking, but I know she already knew.
Violet will be away for a while, but she’ll be back, I heard her say and while that doesn’t make me miss her any less, it is a comfort knowing that reunion is possible, even inevitable, and that she’s taken care of.
That is a blessing.