#1957

Dua Bast, Lady of the Flame!
may we be protected by this light
and sleep safely through the night

[ My girlfriend insists on leaving the porch lights on at night so any murderers can’t see where they’re going. I realized I could turn the use of those lights into a sort of protection prayer/spell, so above is the simple prayer to Bast I’ve started using each night. ]

#1939

“Tangaloor, fire-bright
Flame-foot, farthest walker
Your hunter speaks
In need he walks
In need but never in fear”

– First-Walker prayer, Tailchaser’s Song

As Fritti Tailchaser spoke this prayer into the darkness of his final moments, goosebumps crept up my arms. Though ancient texts do not name Tangaloor Firefoot or his brothers as children of Kemet’s Bast, in the moment I read that passage Her presence was overwhelming. I felt compelled to memorize the prayer, should I ever need to call on Lord Tangaloor’s aid, and I have been mentally repeating it like a mantra for days. I can’t seem to let it go; its words slip over my tongue like prayer beads and bring me as much comfort.

The experience has me considering the role fiction can play in our worship, and in the wills of the gods themselves. After all, the gods speak to us in myriad ways. If we listen, we find their messages are everywhere, in forms and faces we might not expect. I think it is thus with Bast, who can be found in the religion of the felines in Tailchaser’s Song (Tad Williams) and the creation myth in The Wild Road (Gabriel King). Rereading these books as an adult, I finally recognize Bast’s purposeful influence in these stories. Their authors are extremely talented, and I don’t mean to say they couldn’t invent such a story on their own, but Her role is too obvious for me to overlook. When I mentally smack my head for not realizing the connection sooner, I hear Her gentle laughter. She made these stories come into being. She wanted them to be read. She wants them to mean something to me. They feel like scripture, like missing pieces, but I can’t yet figure out where they fit. If my thoughts seem scattered and incomplete, it’s because they are. I’m going mostly by feeling, here.

Below are the creation stories from both Tailchaser’s Song and The Wild Road. I feel compelled to preserve them somewhere, to make them available to other followers of Bast. Do with them what you will – and let me know if you feel the same power within their lines as I do. Luck dancing, friends!

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#1933

Dua Bast, Lady of the East, of the Flame, and of the Truth
Dua Bast, Goddess of the Birth Chamber, Giver of Life
Dua Bast, Vengeful Eye of Ra, Protectress of Family and Home
Dua Bast, She Who is Without Equal
Dua Bast!

Mother of Felidae, I sing Your praises
on earth Your children dance in Your light and hunt in Your shadow
in the land beyond, they rest in Your arms and feel neither fear nor pain
Mother of Felidae, Your children touch all corners of the world
everywhere they step, You are glorified in their grace
everywhere they live, You are exalted by those who serve them
Mother of Felidae, I sing Your praises!

Mother of my Ib and Nurturer of my Ka, I sing Your praises
as a child You protected me and taught me to navigate the world
as an adult You guide me and teach me to uphold Ma’at
Mother of my Ib and Ka, I come to you as daughter and servant both
everywhere I go, I glorify You above all
everyone I meet, they see Your fierce light burning in my eyes
Mother of my Ib and Nurturer of my Ka, I sing Your praises!

Dua Bast, Lady of the East, of the Flame, and of the Truth
Dua Bast, Goddess of the Birth Chamber, Giver of Life
Dua Bast, Vengeful Eye of Ra, Protectress of Family and Home
Dua Bast, She Who is Without Equal
Dua Bast!

[ Since my human mother doesn’t like celebrating Mother’s Day, I’ve decided to use the holiday to celebrate Bast, my spiritual mother. Dua Bast! ]

#1908

The unbelievers ask, Where are the gods? If they really existed, wouldn’t they intercede to stop our wars, our destruction?

To them I want to throw my arms out and say, The gods are all around us. They are always here, always watching, always caring.

The unbelievers ask, Why do the gods not take matters into their heavenly hands, if they care so much? Why do they let us suffer and cause suffering in our turn?

To them I want to say, Why should they? Look what we have done with their gifts! Look how we show our gratitude! My Mother weeps for Her children who are hunted, drowned, poisoned, tortured, who are raised in mills and die in lab cages. What the gods have given us, they cannot and will not take back so lightly. For better or for worse, this is our world and our responsibility; we humans control the fates of countless lives. Thus my Mother can lend me the strength of heart to care for Her children, but She cannot simply unmake the evils which plague them. Human evils must be countered with human goodness. 

#1891

I close my eyes and imagine a room. The whitewashed walls are open on three sides, the high ceiling supported by curving columns decorated in painted carvings of plants and leaping animals. Thin linen curtains blow in a breeze scented by lotus blossoms; as they move, the sunny courtyard with its pools and gardens beyond flashes in and out of sight. The floor is cool marble covered in thick, brightly colored carpets. A graceful bed shaped from dark wood takes up the one wall, and near it stands a matching table inlaid with mother of pearl. On the table sits a collection of delicate bottles, some glass, some stone, and some carved from pure crystal. The perfumes inside send their subtle scents into the air; myrrh, frankincense, jasmine, rose, lavender. Only one sound disturbs the peaceful silence. Like myself, others pass through this place, seeking its comfort for a momentary respite or for as long as pain needs to ease. Cat spirits sleep curled up on the bed and carpets, and stretched out on the stones outside in the hot sun. Their purring fuses into a lazy drone that rumbles through the very walls and floor, a sound more felt than heard. It is a wordless prayer of thanks and love; a call to rest and heal away from the hurts of the corporeal world.

And She is here as well, sometimes, in my daydreams: the Mother Cat, whom I am blessed to call Mother as well. This is Her room, Her quiet place of retreat to comfort, to mourn, to regain strength. I imagine She holds Her arms out to me and I sink into them like a young child (here we are all young, for we will forever be Her kittens). She holds me close as I cry for all the terrible injustices in the world. For Her children who suffer at the hands of my species; who live and die in factory farms, who are killed for sport and profit, who are discarded like inanimate objects. For the earth we continue to ruin in our greed, leaving behind a wasteland in which nothing beautiful can live. I know Bast cannot make these things go away – no deity, no matter how powerful or determined, can undo the whole extent of man’s wrongs. But Her comfort and shared sorrow feed the little flame of Hers in my chest and give me enough strength to go back out into the world and fight. When I imagine how many of Her children are suffering right this moment, hurting and dying without ever knowing the kindness of a human bond, the truth crushes me. But She helps me instead to remember those of Her children whom I have touched, each little ember that grew into a flame and has a chance, now, for a life of love. She reminds me of what I have given, what I still have to give, and of how many are in need. In this room, She lends me the strength to face another day, to make whatever difference in this world I can.

#1875

Dear Polite-Mormon-Boys-Knocking-On-My-Front-Door,

First, let me just say you look adorable in your little white dress shirts and slacks, and I appreciate your dedication to professionalism and aesthetic. I know you had to traverse the unlit, sidewalk-less roads of rural Washington to get to my door, most likely through wind and rain and loose dogs, and the fact that you’re still genuinely smiling is quite admirable.

I should say, also, that this letter isn’t solely directed at you. However, given your notoriety, you serve as a good proxy for all major religions which strive to spread their word to all the people of the world. You just happen to be exceedingly persistent at this.

With that out of the way, let us get to the point of my letter.

I understand you brave the elements to come to my door because you believe, deeply and honestly, that I deserve to experience your deity’s love. You want to share the life-changing awesomeness of God’s love, acceptance, and forgiveness. You want me to feel the same support in times of darkness that you have felt; you want me to experience the same sense of community you found in the church. In short, you want all the goodness in your life to also be mine.

That is a wonderful sentiment, it really is. But here’s the thing. You knock on my door so confidently because you 100% believe your god is the only one who can offer these things. No matter what beliefs I may claim, you will refute them all and feel true sorrow for the emptiness in my life. You will remain convinced that I cannot possibly experience the beautiful things religion has given you unless I seek them through your god.

You are mistaken. Well-intentioned, but still mistaken. I do feel those things. I do experience love, acceptance, forgiveness; I do find support and community when I need them most. I remember the life-changing awesomeness of that moment when you realize you are not alone, that something out there more immense and ancient than yourself loves you in all your human fallibility. I promise you – all the wonder, awe, compassion, protection, and understanding God has made you feel, I too have felt and feel often.

See, I have a deity that loves me unconditionally, too. Her name is Bast. I feel Her presence at my side when I need it most; She guides me when I stumble or lose my way. She is a light in the darkness, a word of encouragement or solace, a reminder to seek joy and ever strive to be a force of good in this world. She makes me try every day to be a better person, even though I know She loves me for my weaknesses as much as for my strengths.

I know you believe your god is the one and only. Please try to remember, however, that you’ve no more evidence for your god’s existence than I do for mine. What we both have is the knowledge, deep within our hearts, that what we experience is real. The feeling is inexplicable; we can only say we know it is right because we feel the rightness of it. That’s okay, though. We don’t need to prove to anyone whether the gods we follow are real. We know they are, and that is enough. Or it should be.

I say all this not to question your worldview, but simply to lend it flexibility. When you meet someone who believes differently than you, do not pity them. Do not question them. Smile and be content in knowing they feel the same wondrous things you do, albeit from a different source. You do not need to believe in another’s god to respect their belief; you need only to believe that they are the ultimate authority on their own experiences. The world is such an unfathomable place – don’t you think there is room for all of our gods to live in peace?

With sincerity,

The-Pagan-Girl-Whose-Door-You-Continue-To-Knock-On-And-That’s-Okay-But-Still

#1871

December 31st, 2015, 5:29 PM

Elyssa, 

From your last letter, it sounds like you were nervous for 2015. 2014 was a tough year and you were afraid all the stress and darkness would spill into 2015. That fear was unfounded, though. 2015 was a wonderful year. Not without its demons, of course, but as of today I think the scales tip in its favor. So much happened! The year began with Bast knocking – or maybe hammering – at your spiritual door. I’m so glad you let Her in when you did; taking up Her path has been a wondrous, awesome experience. Of course, She came when She did because of Bruno, who was finally diagnosed with stomach cancer. He’s doing well and fighting bravely… I  just hope he’s still with you as you read this letter. He should be sixteen, almost as old as Trouble was when she passed. The years are never enough, though, are they? Not for cats or dads. You dealt with that a little this year; I hope you continued to deal with it in 2016. It’s okay to miss him. It’s okay to talk to him. To write to him. To feel him everywhere around you. He’s there.

I was glad to see you hadn’t fucked things up with Chriselle. Hopefully you still haven’t. If everything went according to plan, you should be reading this in the house Mom bought and that you currently rent with the woman you love. Maybe there’s even a ring on your finger – but if not, it’s okay. No rush, right? Every second with her is precious. I wonder if your quirky little family is any bigger? Perhaps you’ve added a certain orange tabby kitten who, as of writing this, you’re currently worrying and waffling over? Take strength from that family, from what you’ve accomplished and created. They’re worth any sacrifice, any risk, any leap of faith. I swear it.

I don’t really want to  make any resolutions, so I’ll just say what I hope 2016 has in store for me. Er, you. Us? Anyway. I hope 2016 sees the continued growth, strengthening, and evolution of your relationship with Chriselle. I hope you have continued your journey down Bast’s path. I hope you faced your fears in taking on more responsibilities at work, and that that has paid off. I hope Bruno is still with you. I hope having a house is everything you want it to be. I hope your connection  with Tanim and Daren is still strong, even if They can be jerks. Most of all, I hope things are good. I’m sure there will be hard, painful things to face in 2016, but I know you can make it through with the support of friends, family, and the noncorporeal. You’re rocking the tattoos and sidecut – what more could we want?

You know the path you’re supposed to take. If you have any fears going into 2017, just remember that; even blind, you walk a sure path. It’s okay to falter. If you need to stop and catch your breath, the path will still be there. The Wheel keeps on spinning. Let it spin.

– E

P.S. Chriselle is still writing. You were watching her and she looked up and caught you staring. You can’t help it, though, she looks beautiful in candlelight. You’re so in love with her it’s overwhelming. Tonight you’ll sleep curled up next to each other in the bed you share, and that just might be the most wonderful thing in the world.

Except, maybe, for kitties.

(Maybe.)