According to many pagan calendars, April 15 was the annual festival of Bast. This was Egypt’s most popular festival. A precursor of modern Mardi Gras, it was renowned for parties, revelry, and drunkenness. Herodotus, the Greek traveler and historian writing in the fifth century BCE, claimed that more wine was consumed in Egypt during this festival than during the entire rest of the year. Although many details are lost, Bastet’s festival celebrated female sexuality and generative power.

Boats sailed up the Nile toward Bubastis (her cult city). As each barge approached towns and settlements, it would halt and the mainly female celebrants on board would loudly hail local women congregating on the riverbanks. They would shout sexual obscenities to each other, dance wildly, and perform anasuromai, the ritual act of lifting up the skirts to expose the vulva, associated with laughter, healing, and defiance of grief.

For a socially acceptable way to celebrate:

  • Colors: Pink, yellow, clay-color
  • Element: Fire
  • Daily Meal: Fish.
  • Offerings: Give aid to an animal shelter. Give food to household cats.

Altar: Upon a cloth the color of clay, set ten lit candles of pink and yellow, and the figures of many cats. In the center should sit a figure of Bast, and a sistrum. The one who has been chosen to do the work of the ritual should pick up the sistrum before the invocation, with an obeisance to Bast, and it should be shaken after every sentence.

Invocation to Bast

O great Mistress of Cats,
Lady of pleasure in ancient times,
Your eyes sparkle with mischief
And you grant your favors capriciously,
Giving them only where the whim takes you.

Yet we who inhabit this strange world,
Below you yet in power over all your subjects,
We would ask your blessing on us
As we give our blessing to those who are in our mercy.

May we never forget, Lady of tame predators,
Who are not so tame as we might like to believe,
That when we are in a position of power
We should never forget the spirit of those beneath us.

Bless us with joy in life, Lady Bast,
And may we go to our graves
Never forgetting what it is like to play.

Hail Bast! (Repeat response)
Hail Bast! (Repeat response)
Hail Bast! (Repeat response)

For the rest of the afternoon, work should be done at an animal shelter, or spent playing with cats, which on this day alone is not shirking the work. Some folk of the House may choose to be cats themselves for this day; they need do no work, and it is lucky to pet them, but they must not stand on two legs or the spell will be broken. During this time, they must meditate on what it is to be in the strange predicament of the tamed predator who is dependent on the whims of humans

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