BAST AND ISIS, WHAT IS THE CONNECTION?

The relationship between Bast and Isis, the goddess of sun and moon, is a pivotal one that reaches far into the future history of the cat, influencing the symbolism of the black cat and other important aspects, which will be explored later.   However, some of the first evidence of this Bast/Isis connection is on the walls of the New Kingdom Temple of Isis at Philae where the sun and moon goddess is summoned as Bast.  In addition, according to an inscription found in the Greek Isles Bubastis, the city that we all believe was dedicated to the cat goddess Bast, was built in honor of Isis.  The inscription, referring to Isis, states, “…..I am she who is called the goddess of women. The town of Bubastis was built in my honour.” (Erman, 1907, p.244) Another example of the Isis/Bast merging is a figure of Bast under the throne of Isis in the Turin Table, also known as the Bembine

Bembine Table of Isis

Bembine Table of Isis
Bast under the chair
Courtesy Wikipedia

Table of Isis.  Named after Cardinal Bembo, who bought the table from a Roman in 1527, it is a fine example of metallurgy, as it comprises gold, silver, bronze, tin and copper.  Even though thought to have been made in Rome, its style is quite Egyptian.  Furthermore, there are many terracotta statuettes of Bast with an Isaic knot (Peeters, 1998). The Isaic knot, known in the Egyptian language as Tyet, resembles an ankh and like the ankh represents eternal life.

Goddess Isis Roman, 1st half 2nd Century

Goddess Isis, Isaic knot at front of robe
Roman, 1st half 2nd Century AD
Courtesy Kunst Historishes Museum, Vienna

 

 

The cult of Isis continued on the Egyptian island of Philae even after Paganism was outlawed. It was the Emperor Justinian, in an effort to completely eradicate the cult, who ordered the destruction and defacement of the sculptures at the large temple of Isis.  Despite Justinian’s efforts to end the cult once and for all due to the ever persistent onslaught of Christianity, the cult of Isis survived, and still exists today, as The Fellowship of Isis, with its center located in Clonegal Castle in Northern Ireland.

 

 

 

View of the Temple of Philae at Agilkia Island...

View of the Temple of Philae
Courtesy Wikipedia

 

 

 

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