“Dance is the hidden language of the soul.”
– Martha Graham
Bast: Garden of Joyful Dancing
Bast is a cat-faced goddess who comes to us from the Nile’s Delta region. All of Egypt honored her as a solar deity who was filled with fertile energy. More than this, however, Bast was known as a joyful goddess whose followers took great pleasure in dancing, singing, music, and playfulness. The historian Herodotus recounts how many of her rituals were accompanied with a sort of street fair, complete with merchants, masquerades, and all manner of entertainers. Local lore stated taking part in this celebration ensured the participants of good health for another year.
The importance of Bast and her cats is quite evident in Egyptian customs. It was a crime worthy of a death sentence in most of Egypt to kill a cat. Additionally, thousands of cats have been found mummified in tombs, taking their rightful place near loving owners as greatly honored creatures.
The Bast theme is ideal for anyone who would like an ongoing visual pick-me-up. The daily grind can often rob us of the pure childlike joy in living and our ability to experience every moment fully. Bast restores that delight in her garden.
Bast’s magickal attributes include happiness, kindness, social ability, playfulness, humor, sacred dance, inspiring music, protection, wellness, sex appeal, and fertility.
Plants Sacred to Bast
Catnip and/or valerian are necessary for Bast’s garden because cats adore these two herbs so much, and they inspire whimsy in these creatures. Other plants believed to attract magical joy include hyacinth, hawthorn, lavender, lily of the valley, marjoram, and morning glory.
By the way, strew a little wine in your garden by way of blessing. The wine was the favored beverage during Bast’s festivals, often accompanied by light-hearted flute music and rhythmic clapping.
Patterns for a Magickal Garden Honoring the Goddess Bast
A solar circle is one idea, but whatever your choice try to make room inside the garden or around its perimeter for ritual dancing. Move clockwise when you want to draw positive energies into your life, and counterclockwise to banish the blues. Many of Bast’s worshippers often celebrated skyclad (naked) because they felt the body was worthy of appreciation. If you live on a large tract of land or in a rural area, give it a go if the weather cooperates.
Magic Stones, Minerals, Crystals, and Shells
Stones under the dominion of Leo are an option (honoring Bast’s Lion aspect). These include amber, carnelian, onyx, gold quartz, and chrysoprase.
Magickal Color Correspondences
Decorative Touches Appropriate for Honoring Bast
Images of lions or cats (especially those made in black stone). If you find a picture of Bast, drape it in a rich, green cloth.
The Cardinal Direction for Planting the Magic Garden
Magickally, South symbolizes Bast’s passionate/sexual aspect. East best represents Bast with hopefulness and renewal. Feng Shui seems to agree with the latter, placing health, new beginnings, and positive energy in the East, along with the color green.
Adaptations for Your Magical Garden
Bast is sometimes depicted carrying a woven basket, so look for something of this nature. If you add feline decorations, that would be ideal! Alternatively, make four smaller potted plants to mark the four quarters of your sacred space and dance in the middle of them.
After-Harvest Applications: Reaping from Bast’s Garden
Lavender has so many applications that it’s favored for many Witch’s gardens. Dry it and add it to any incense where you want to lift heavy feelings out of a house or room. Make it into a tea and internalize self-appreciation. Steep it in warm oil with which you scent soap, or add it to your baths and saturate your aura with all of Bast’s wonderful, soothing energies.
By the way, scenting soap isn’t difficult. Just take a cotton or linen cloth and lay it in a box that has an airtight cover. Food storage containers do the trick. Dab the cloth with lavender (or other) oil until the aroma is relatively strong. The unwrapped soap on top. Close this up and leave it for several weeks. Soap is porous and slowly absorbs the perfume. If you can do this from the first day of a full moon until the next full moon, all the better. This symbolically brings “fullness.”