Mewling the Blues To The Ancient Cat Goddesses
Russian Blue Cats, Mythological Cat Goddesses
The Russian Blue is considered one of the most chic and ancient breeds in the cat world. Well-known as a one-person cat with a distinctive personality which identifies it as a breed apart from other cats, it is very much a timid and reserved creature although it is also gentle and affectionate, with an interesting and entertaining nature. It is also referred to as the Archangel Blue, Maltese Blue, and the Spanish Blue.
Little is known about the history of the Russian Blue but the title Archangel may have come from the Archangel Isles in northern Russia or also the Russian White Sea Port by this name. It is thought most likely that nineteenth century Russian sailors brought these silvery-grey cats with them with the intention to sell them in UK. Their rich blue and silver-highlighted fur colouring is sometimes likened to that of a seal, and may also account for their timidness; it is claimed that they used to be hunted for their unusual coats.
It is said that the Russian Blue is a descendant of the Royal Cat of the Russian Czars and also that it was the favourite pet of Queen Victoria. In Russia, it is considered to be lucky hence couples make sure a cat moves into their new home with them. The breed almost disappeared during World War II, but was later revived by the introduction of Siamese blood. One outstanding characteristic of all Russian Blues is the smiling expression they wear– and who doesn’t like to be greeted with a smile!
Russian Blues always have startlingly vivid green eyes, and to those who gaze into the eyes of such cats, their intensity of those eyes is mesmerizing; the gaze of the cat was first observed by the Egyptians. They associated the cat with the hawk-headed god Horus, who was the son of Isis. In Ancient Egypt, cats “captured the glow of the setting sun in their eyes and kept it safe until morning.”
There are a great many cultures who consider cats to be mystical creatures who in reality were in fact fairies or goblins who cunningly disguised themselves as cats. Amongst these cultures they believe that staring intensely into cats eyes will reveal visions of the fairy sphere snooping inquisitively back at the human realm through the cat’s eyes. By contrast the Japanese believe that vampires can masquerade in the form of cats but that they give themselves away by the manifestation of two tails!
One of the most well-known folklore myths regarding the Russian Blue is the narrative about a cat spirit that appears in time of need to help someone in trouble. Once it has gained the trust of that person, the cat’s spirit one way or another reveals rewards that can be physical and/or spiritual treasures.
Freyja’s Cat-Driven Chariot
The Norse goddess Freyja, deity of love, beauty, fertility, war, wealth, divination, and magic, was worshipped by the Vikings, who prayed to her for rain and the granting of good crop yields; to this end jugs of milk for the cats were left out in Scandinavian countries. She rode in the heavens in a chariot pulled by two giant, blue-grey cats, (said to be Norwegian Forest cats). These cats are the children of the magic cat, Bauyn, that were a gift from Thor the god of Thunder.
BAST (Ancient Egyptian Lower Kingdom)
The Egyptian goddess Bast (also known as Bastet, Ubasti, Pasht or Pakhet) was the benevolent and protective goddess of pet and household cats. But like all Egyptian cat goddesses she was also portrayed as a war-like goddess (“Bast” means “devourer”).
She was often illustrated as a fierce lioness but was also symbolized in cheetah or lynx form. However Bast was the only ancient Egyptian cat goddess to also be depicted as a domestic cat, personifying both the strength and ferocity of a combative lioness, and the frisky, elegant, friendly, and wily nature of a cat.
Known originally as “the protector goddess of Lower Egypt” she was the fierce shield and defender of the pharaoh. Bast was also the guard and protector of the sun-god Ra, and was consequently known as the “Lady of Flame” and the “Eye of Ra.”
Illustrations of her frequently depict her clasping the” ankh” which was designed to signify “the breath of life” or a papyrus wand which was intended to signify Lower Egypt. She occasionally bears a war-sceptre (signifying strength) and is often accompanied by a litter of kittens
She is also seen as the goddess of fertility and the protector of cats, women and children, to harm one was considered to be a crime against her and so very unlucky. Her priests kept sacred cats in her temple, which were considered to be incarnations of the goddess.
Bast was originally the goddess of the sunrise, with the ability and command at her disposal to rouse a solar eclipse. but because the Greeks because linked her with Artemis – the lunar goddess, and the brother of Apollo (hence she became the daughter of Isis and Osiris) transformed her into a lunar goddess; the Moon and the cat’s nocturnal nature certainly sit well together!
Some other ancient Egyptian Cat Goddesses.
Pakhet, "She Who Scratches", was a big cat goddess, presumably with big scratchy claws! She defended from evil the living and the dead.
Mafdet, the first of the cat goddesses, was a protective war goddess who spat fire at cobras and who also took a variety of feline forms – the ancient Egyptian lynx, the cheetah or the lion. Known as the “Runner” she was the cat goddess who killed the colossal snake Apep who was the enemy of Ra the sun-god.