DEPARTURE — Whiskers Syndicate

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When we lose foster kittens, I always wonder why such innocent lives must be taken so soon. Why we weren’t able to save them; why Bast didn’t save them. I know some can’t be saved, though, neither by human nor god, and the greatest blessing we can give them is to make their last days and hours count. To remember them when they pass.

I couldn’t do it alone – and luckily I don’t have to. Yet this woman does, and only her endless dedication and the small donations from people like you keep these cats safe. Even a dollar goes a long way to helping them. I don’t normally push causes or reblog posts, but this is a cause too near and dear to my heart to ignore.

I guess people get a hunch about these things.Last winter, the two of us had a little Christmas party.I didn’t expect her to celebrate it at this age.But…she said she wanted to have one no matter what.We bought a small cake, lit up the candles…and celebrated together.Then, out of the blue…she asked me to help…

via DEPARTURE — Whiskers Syndicate

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#2125 – Help Cats with Tarot!

These days I feel very, very helpless in the world. The sheer number of vulnerable lives, both human and animal, in need of saving paralyzes me – I think, if I can’t help everyone, then what’s the point? So every week I sit in front of Bast’s altar begging Her to show me how to function without losing my compassion and how to be compassionate without going mad. Help me be a force of good in the world, I plead. Help me save as many of Your children as I can.

And in Her way, She answers. She makes sure I stumble upon a WordPress post from The Whiskers Syndicate, the only cat sanctuary in Bandung, Indonesia, a city with no animal welfare laws or shelters to protect the cats bred there by the hundreds of thousands. A single amazing woman, Josie, keeps this sanctuary and its 90+ cats alive, and in whatever spare time she has she tries to help as many other cats in the area as possible. Spaying, neutering, life-saving surgeries, even just a little food or a dry place to sleep – these cats rely on her to protect them as no one else in the city will.

I can’t do much for these cats from 8,400 miles away. I can donate money, though, and I can urge others to do the same with a dedication of time on my part. To that end, I’m officially opening up paid tarot readings! It’s the least I can do, and hopefully this will help spread the word so others learn about this vital organization. My guidelines are as follows:

– The readings are on a donation basis, please pay what you think is fair and I promise my full dedication to your question or issue*
– You can donate directly to the organization and send me a screenshot of your PayPal receipt
– I will also accept donations to other cat-focused organizations (humane societies, etc)
– I’m happy to communicate in whatever method is easiest for you, we can swap emails or you can find me on Tumblr or Twitter
– You are welcome to remain anonymous, I just need a nickname or pseudonym for the reading

I am also open to creating custom sigils and prayers for those who are interested, or other witchy-type services/trades. Don’t hesitate to ask. I hope that together we can bring a little brightness into the lives of all the Whiskers Syndicate cats!

(*Please be aware that PayPal donations to foreign countries may carry a larger fee than those made within your home country)

 

#2122

A prayer for Bast’s children

Dua Bast, Mother and Protector!
I pray for Your children across this earth:
for Your wild children whose habitat is shrinking
may they never experience man’s violence, only freedom;
for Your feral children who struggle to survive
may they know much kindness and mercy;
for Your children who are lost or abandoned
may they be welcomed into warm homes and loving hearts;
for Your children who are sick, hurt, or old
may they find healing in this world or peace in Your arms;
I pray for Your children, Mother
and I send them each my love and strength
may they know only joy and light!
Dua Bast, Mother and Protector!
Dua Bast!

#2119

From time to time I get questions about worshiping Bast and so I thought I’d write up a little FAQ, so to speak, in case anyone might find it useful. The following is all based on my own UPG (unverified personal gnosis), though a lot of my experiences align with what I’ve heard from others who work with Her.

What’s Her personality like?

For me, Bast is 100% Cat Mom. I don’t really ever see Her more sensual/sexual side, though I know it’s there and respect it as an integral part of Her. To me She is a middle aged woman, regal and wise, with laugh lines around Her gold eyes. She embodies all the positive aspects of motherhood – unconditional love, patience, guidance, protection, comfort, and when necessary a dose of tough love. Her sense of humor is never cruel, nor does She withhold affection if She’s disappointed or angry. Like a mother cat, She provides guidance yet knows when to let Her devotee stand on their own. She’ll let you make mistakes along the way because She knows they are an important part of growing up. And believe me, if you’re a follower of Bast then you always have more growing to do, no matter how old you are. That’s a parent for you!

How did you start worshiping Her?

One day back in January 2015 I woke up and just had this inexplicable knowledge in my head that Bast wanted me to work with Her. I know now that it was claircognizance – clear knowing – but at the time I felt a little crazy. I didn’t identify as pagan and knew basically nothing about paganism. Hell, I didn’t even know people still worshiped the Egyptian gods! After a few more mental nudges, though, I bought a statue of Her and a book about working with the Netjeru and started my journey into Kemeticism. Every step I took, whether that was making an altar or buying a tarot deck, felt so incredibly right. It felt like coming home. I quickly realized Bast had always been in my life, yet had chosen a specific moment to make me fully aware of Her presence.

What does your devotion to Her look like?

I usually conduct what I call my “devotions”, or more structured worship, once a week. This involves formally sitting at Bast’s altar, opening and closing with a specific prayer, and offering something edible we can share. I use this time to thank Her for the blessings She’s given me, to talk out any current anxieties or struggles I’m facing, and to ask questions via tarot. Except for the specific prayer and some phrases I usually weave in, this feels much like sitting down with my mother over a cup of tea. The formal structure is nice, though, because it makes this time feel more sacred and sets it aside from the times during the week that I casually interact with Her.

Bast is very much a part of my everyday life as well. I always wear two rings dedicated to Her and often wear other devotional jewelry as well. I’m always lurking in the Kemetic tag on Tumblr, liking and sharing posts, and often save images that remind me of Bast on Pinterest. I say little prayers for any cats I see, as well as prayers for any dead animals I drive past. Most of all, I’m also incredibly lucky in that I am able to foster kittens and cats through our local humane society. During “kitten season” (spring through fall) my wife and I always have a litter of kittens who we keep from anywhere between one and three months until they’re old enough to find their forever homes. We have fostered over fifty kittens already!

Can I worship Her if I’m [insert race/orientation/diagnosis/etc]?

As I said, I came into paganism with very little knowledge of what that path actually entailed. I worried Bast wouldn’t want to work with someone who was asexual and sex-repulsed, or that I wouldn’t be able to work with Her given Her more sensual aspects. I also worried She would get angry if I didn’t pray or give Her offerings a certain number of times each week, or if I missed some because of my depression. My fears were all completely unfounded, of course. Bast doesn’t care about things like race, sexual orientation, or other aspects you can’t control; She primarily just cares if you try to be a good person. I’ve also found Her to be especially supportive and protective of women, children, and queer people. As She said to me once, cats birth kittens of all different colors and they love them all the same – and Bast loves Her followers no matter what society says is wrong with them.

How do I go about initially connecting with Her?

I get this question most frequently and it’s totally understandable – how do you say hello to a god? It’s not as scary as it seems, though, I promise! I usually suggest lighting a candle, setting out a simple offering (water is fine), and introducing yourself. Chances are Bast already knows who you are and why you’re coming to Her so the interaction won’t feel uncomfortable or awkward. If you don’t feel like you’re getting a response, try changing your methods of communication. I doubt Bast will completely ignore you unless you’re being rude or demanding. Just remember, every new relationship takes time to develop. Give your relationship with Bast the time it needs to grow without being forced or stunted.

How should I communicate with Her?

Every follower will have their own method of communicating with a deity and you should find what works for you! I prefer to use tarot to communicate with Bast when I need advice or a more in-depth conversation – She loves throwing major arcana cards at me. In just my day-to-day life I usually talk to Her in my mind and might get an external sign or internal feeling in response. Some of the signs She’ll give me are cats (duh), changes in a candle flame, particular songs/images, or things that just can’t be written off as coincidences. I often look back on something that happened last week or last month and have that “Aha!” moment when I realize it was orchestrated by Bast.

What kinds of offerings does She like?

In my experience, Bast is a fan of all the offerings you can find listed online for Her: chocolate, tea, fruit, alcohol, water, jewelry, precious stones, candles, etc. I like to offer Her chocolate or tea and then share the offering with Her during my devotions, usually while I’m reading a tarot spread or meditating. It brings me joy to give Bast offerings so I do it often but that doesn’t mean She demands them or will scorn you for not offering something often enough or fancy enough. For Bast an offering is all about intent. One thing I have found is that She isn’t happy with lazy offerings. If all you have to offer is a cup of cool water given out of love, Bast will be much happier with that than some random item grabbed out of the back of your pantry and given without any prior thought or intention.

More specific things She likes include: lapis lazuli, fluorite, amethyst, citrine, rings, necklaces, lavender scented or flavored things, sweet black teas (especially those with lavender or rose petals), dark chocolate, baked goods, kombucha, apple cider, scented candles (I usually go for lavender, vanilla, rose, citrus, or other sweet scents), lotuses, roses, sunflowers, The Lion King broadway musical, books with cat main characters (see my top 10 list here!), Geoffrey Oryema’s music, cat figurines, catnip and cat treats given to Her children, donations to cat rescues, purple and gold, moodboards, devotional art/writing, and for whatever reason the song Cosmic Love by Florence + the Machine.

Does She require ritual purity?

While Bast has never required me to be ritually clean or pure before doing anything with Her (devotions, tarot, spells, etc), She does prefer it when I have the opportunity. I usually take a shower before I do my weekly devotions; this gives me time to wash away any stress or lingering anxieties and get into the right mindset so that I feel calm and focused. When my schedule is tight or I need to unexpectedly stop by Her altar, though, I never feel like I’m breaking the rules. I also don’t change any of my habits when I’m menstruating; I’ve never had any issue with it from the goddesses I worship (except maybe to be told I should be resting!).

How does She feel about Her followers worshiping other gods as well?

Bast is my patron and the first deity I have ever worshiped and thus will always hold the “top spot” in my own personal pantheon. That being said, She hasn’t had an issue yet with those who have come after Her (namely Inanna and Wepwawet) and is always encouraging when I reach out to someone or something new. I do have a separate altar for Her, but that’s partly out of simple courtesy and partly because I keep buying more stuff for it! I think that Bast knows we need different teachers and companions in our lives to help us on our unique path, and the only time She might balk at a new relationship is if She believes it will be harmful.

I used to work with Bast but I haven’t in a long time; will She get mad at me or not want me as a follower?

Bast is the epitome of a good mother; Her arms are always open to you as long as your intentions are good. She understands the need to question your spiritual path and wander onto other paths, and will be there if you turn back to Her. Likewise, She understands the many ways our lives might temporarily fall apart – mental and physical health, family issues, work, relationships, etc. While Bast won’t approve of purposefully lax or disrespectful devotion, She has infinite patience for those who are honestly struggling. And if you find another path fits you better, you won’t incur Her wrath. Every kitten needs to go their own way, after all.

I hope this helps someone!

#2117

A curse for those who harm Bast’s children

Dua Bast, Lady of the East, of the Flame, and of the Truth!
Dua Bast, Vengeful Eye of Ra, Tear-er and Devour-er!

Harm has come to one of Your children, Great Lady
may their tormentors be forever punished!
May all these villains love come to ruin
and may they know no peace, only devastation!
May You rend them with your claws and teeth
and throw their hearts to Ammit to consume!
Take my rage, Great Lady, take my sorrow
and use them to avenge Your child!

Dua Bast, Lady of the East, of the Flame, and of the Truth!
Dua Bast, Vengeful Eye of Ra, Tear-er and Devour-er!
Dua Bast!

#2109

A spell to help an animal find their forever home

Tools:
Mortar and pestle
Cauldron (or other fire safe container)
Matches
Writing utensil

Ingredients:
1 bay leaf
Catnip (for Bast)
Lavender (love)
Thyme (courage)
Orange peel (luck)
Mint (travel, protection)

Open the spell as you would normally (casting a circle, etc). Grind together a pinch of catnip, lavender, thyme, mint, and orange peel while focusing on the intent of the spell. Write the animal’s name on one side of the bay leaf and the sigil on the other. While reciting the words below, light the bay leaf on fire and set it in your container with the other herbs.

“Hail Bast, Lady of the Flame, Great Mother Cat! I ask you to lend Your energy to this working and help [animal’s name] find their forever home, a place where they may live out the rest of their life in love and peace. I send them the hope and strength to complete this journey and find their rightful family. With these words I release this energy to fulfill its intended purpose. Hail Bast, Lady of the Flame, Great Mother Cat!

Let the mixture burn itself out, then close the spell as you would normally.

Some suggestions: While this was written to work with Bast, you could easily change the wording to use another deity associated with the animal of your choice (while perhaps trading out the catnip for an herb they prefer). You could also try writing the name of the rescue/shelter instead of a specific animal if you wanted to perform a more general spell.

#2087

Top 10 Fiction Books with Feline Main Characters

If you haven’t noticed, I’m kind of a cat person. Next to queer literature, cat literature is probably the genre I read most. When it comes to cat fiction I’ve read a good number of the non-children’s books out there and so I know the genre has some real hidden gems. Therefore, I want to share my top ten cat books so other cat lovers out there can check them out!

10. Warriors – Erin Hunter

If the immensely popular cat series Warriors had existed when I was a kid it would have been my number one obsession. Even as an adult the books hold a certain charm despite being marketed to readers less than half my age. The first set of six books center around Rusty, a pet kitten who finds himself thrown into the world of the “clans” – tribes of feral cats who live in unsteady alliance in the forest beyond his home. Our protagonist desperately wants to leave his comfy “housepet” life and become a warrior, cats who defend their clans and are therefore respected and admired. But is there more to this majestic, adventurous life than meets our young hero’s eye? You’ll have to find out for yourself!

These books can feel a little formulaic after a while, but characterization and action keep them interesting and the first six, which compose the first main plot line, are quite worth your reading time. Despite being aimed at young readers, though, these books have some gruesome and painful moments. The life of a feral cat isn’t easy, and the books thankfully don’t sugarcoat this issue too much. They’re a good balance of whimsy, reality, and that special something that all animal books seem to share.

The first book in the series is Warriors: Into the Wild.

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9. Ghatti’s Tale – Gayle Greeno

Remember in the late 80s and early 90s when fantasy novels went through that popular phase of having human characters bonded with magical animals? And it was amazing because who doesn’t want to communicate telepathically with their animal BFF? Well, this craze produced the Ghatti series, which involves the bonding of humans stranded on the planet Methuen with alien creatures which look like very large housecats. These creatures, called ghatti, can read human minds in order to sense emotions, deception, etc. Bonded pairs therefore have become an integral part of society called Seekers, traveling from town to town to solve disputes and crimes. This first trilogy follows the human Doyce and her ghatta Khar’pern, who are being targeted by an unknown force hostile to the Seekers. Detailed world-building and loveable characters round out an interesting and well-executed sci-fi/fantasy concept in this series, one that fans of similar books like The Heralds of Valdemar with come to love as well.

The first book in the original trilogy is Finders-Seekers.

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8. The Incredible Journey – Sheila Burnford

Here’s a little factoid about me: Homeward Bound always makes me cry. Always. I can probably make myself cry just thinking about it, honestly. I can’t even watch the scene when Sassy goes over the waterfall, even though I know she’ll be okay. So I was a little nervous about reading The Incredible Journey, the book on which the movie is based. I’m pretty sure the book made me cry too, but it was so worth the read. The animals don’t talk like our trio in the movie, but the book still captures their personalities, determination, and the magnitude of their adventure. The Incredible Journey is a must-read for anyone who likes the movie, and is a powerful (if fictional) testament to the devotion of our beloved pets.

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7. Catfantastic – ed. Andre Norton

In the 80s and 90s anthologies called “[insert noun]+fantastic” seemed to be very popular in the sci-fi/fantasy community. Of these series, Catfantastic was obviously the best because it was about cats. The collection of five anthologies features sci-fi/fantasy stories from a variety of well-known authors who approach the feline subject in a myriad of ways. Unlike other anthologies, many of the stories in the Catfantastic books build on earlier stories, giving readers a chance to revisit favorite characters and settings. Like all good anthologies, the stories in these books run the gamut from humor to horror, hard sci-fi to high fantasy, and everything in between. They’re hidden jewels you’re likely to find in your local used book store; if not, you can get them off Amazon for real cheap. Totally worth the cost of shipping, I promise!

The first book in the series is Catfantastic: Nine Lives and Fifteen Tales.

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6. Yeshua’s Cats – C.L. Francisco

You’re wary of that title, aren’t you? You’re wondering why I, proud pagan and (newbie) witch, am reading Christian fiction. Well, obviously because it has cats in it and you can’t be too picky about your cat fiction. I’m so, so glad I have this series a chance though. The first book in the Yeshua’s Cats series is told from the point of view of a cat named Mari who is healed by Yeshua after a vicious dog attack. She then travels with him for many years, including the year of his crucifixion. Through her we see the (obviously fictional) origins of a lot of his teachings, and the Yeshua painted by C. L. Francisco is one of immense patience, love, and understanding. The book is beautiful, touching, and at times heart-wrenching, as are all of its sequels/prequels. There are currently five books in the series, some focusing on other cats whose lives have been touched in some way by Yeshua, and I’ve loved each one.

Before you ask, the books really aren’t that preachy. As a follower of Bast, I was highly sensitive to anything in the books that felt judgmental of pagan religions and was overall pretty satisfied with how other religions are handled in the books. The “mother goddess” believed in by the cats of this world is explained as simply a different face of the Christian god, instead of something fake or demonic. This is still Christian fiction, of course, so it’s not entirely free of Christian themes, but I think non-Christian cat lovers will still enjoy these books and appreciate this particular cat-loving depiction of Jesus.

The first book in the series is The Gospel According to Yeshua’s Cat.

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5. Tomorrow’s Sphinx – Clare Bell

Tomorrow’s Sphinx is a rare book, even when used, but so worth tracking down. I probably checked it out from the library a hundred times as a kid; some scenes from it are forever branded in my mind. The book is set on a far future earth and follows Kichebo, a black cheetah whose unnatural coloring causes her to become alienated from her family. When she discovers an abandoned human toddler and chooses to care for the creature, she’s thrown into a strange psychic link between herself and another black cheetah – one living during the reign of Tutankhamen. Kichebo must understand how and why this bond exists while protecting her new cub not only from other predators, but from the strange creatures in the sky.

Tomorrow’s Sphinx sounds super weird when you try to explain the plot, but it comes together masterfully in a strange, beautiful tale of the bonds possible between human and animal. If you get the opportunity, give this book a chance; you won’t regret it.

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4. The Named – Clare Bell

Clare Bell is on this list twice for a good reason: her books capture the essential wildness of big cats while establishing feline characters and societies as believable as our own. She is probably most known for her Named series, books set on an unspecified planet during a prehistoric age in which the top species are not humans but large, highly intelligent cats who call themselves the Named. The series follows Ratha, a young adult who is banished from her clan when she accidentally discovers how to tend and wield fire – what she calls her “creature”. Her journey will take her to very dark places, both physically and emotionally, but she will come to lead the Named into a new era. For a book about prehistoric cats, this series manages to touch on a variety of different issues such as xenophobia, PTSD, abuse, betrayal and forgiveness, mental illness, and what it means to be part of something bigger than yourself. These books are absolutely a must-read for any cat lover – but I’m warning you now, you’re gonna cry.

The first book in The Named series is Ratha’s Creature.

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3. Varjak Paw – S.F. Said

You know how you sometimes read a children’s book as an adult and think “this is way more disturbing than it should be”? That’s Varjak Paw. The book is aimed at third through seventh graders, but the content is creepy enough (including the illustrations!) to not only satisfy an adult reader, but to help it stand out among its competition. Varjak Paw tells the story of young Varjak, a kitten who lives with his family in an idealic house away from the rest of the world. However, when a threatening gentleman takes over the care of the cats, Varjak escapes the house to find help and winds up in the middle of a mystery bigger than anything he could imagine. He must use the newfound powers given to him by his ancestor and the assistance of an unlikely group of friends to save his family and all the cats who have been disappearing without a trace.

Varjak Paw is book one of the duology; be sure to check out its sequel, The Outlaw Varjak Paw, which is a direct continuation of the events in the first book. Varjak is an unforgettable protagonist who will have you cheering for him from page one.

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2. Tailchaser’s Song – Tad Williams

If you’re a cat lover, you knew this book would be on the list. And it deserves to be; it’s a beautiful, heartfelt story that masterfully weaves fantasy, horror, and adventure into a tale worthy of Tolkien or C.S Lewis. Fritti Tailchaser, our courageous young hero, goes on a quest to find his friend after she disappears. Much like Varjak, Tailchaser uncovers a mystery much bigger than any could have expected – one that will have him facing off with the gods themselves to save his very species.

Like many of the other books on this list, Tailchaser’s Song is partly so engaging because it builds us an entire world for our feline protagonists. The book includes vocabulary, religion, and social etiquette unique to the cats of this world that feel completely real. Despite being thrown into an entirely different society from the first page, the reader lands on their feet (pun intended) and becomes entirely immersed in the fantasy world Tad Williams is building.

I utterly love this book, but it does come with a warning: it has some seriously dark themes and several disturbing scenes. It’s a hard read sometimes, but one that will leave you in that perfect post-book daze.

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1. The Wild Road – Gabriel King

I’ve seen this book compared to Watership Down, which is fair in the sense that they are both sweeping epics focusing on the lives of everyday animals and both are astoundingly good. The Wild Road, however, employs fantasy elements in a way which Watership Down does not, making it more comparable to Tailchaser’s Song. Also like Tailchaser’s Song, this book is dark. Not just dark for a kid’s book, I mean DARK dark. It deals with the topic of animal experimentation, after all, and the villain known only as the Alchemist is as evil as they come. However, the blend of fantasy and horror, combined with an unforgettable ragtag group of animals who must band together to stop the Alchemist, makes this book beautifully heart-wrenching in all the right ways. Like Tailchaser and Varjak Paw, little Tag must leave the safety of his home to save a world he knows nothing about – and to do so he will grow and change in so many ways.

The Wild Road is my #1 absolutely must read cat book. Definitely read its sequel, The Golden Cat, as well to see how the story plays out.

Caution: Apparently two more books came out in the series last year, much to my surprise. They have no reviews on Amazon, though, and seem to focus on human characters with pet cats, so… read at your own risk, I guess. Seems fishy to me. The first two books are AMAZING, though, and you should probably end there.

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Honorable mention: The Unadoptables –  Margaret Chiavetta

I promote this fledgling webcomic on every social media site possible because it deserves so much more attention and acclaim that it receives. The story centers on a cat cafe where all the resident cats are up for adoption. The twist, however, is that the cats are what most people would consider “unadoptable” in some way; too sick, too old, too aloof, pair bonded, etc. The story follows both the cats and the humans who run the cafe, where all are hopeful that the next visitor will take one of the kitties home. The cats are all loveable characters in their own way, of course, but the human characters shine as well (and are some great POC representation, too) and in general the comic gives you a lot of warm fuzzy feelings. It has its tenser moments, though, as you’ll see if you check out the first story arc!

Check out The Unadoptables and consider supporting them on Patreon to get a sneak peek at new pages, character designs, and other cool behind-the-scenes stuff!

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Think another cat book should be on this list? Let me know, I want to read all of the cat books that ever existed!