The Great Cat Deities

Probably the most well known Egyptian cat deity is Bastet (Bast) however there are also a number of other ancient Egyptian gods who were associated with cats. The goddess Neith was said to take the form of a cat occasionally and the goddesses Tefnut and Sekhmet were pictured as lions.

An inscription in the Valley of the Kings states:

“You are the Great Cat, the avenger of the gods, and the judge of words, and the president of the sovereign chiefs and the governor of the holy Circle; you are indeed the Great Cat.”

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The Valley of the Kings, also known as the Valley of the Gates, is in the Theban Hills of Egypt where for about 500 years, from the 16th to 11th century BCE, amazing deep cut rock tombs were excavated for the pharaohs and powerful nobles of the New Kingdom (the Eighteenth to the Twentieth Dynasties of Ancient Egypt). The Book of the Gates, an Ancient Egyptian funerary text from the New Kingdom, narrates the passage of a newly deceased soul into the next world, which corresponds to the journey of the sun through the underworld during the hours of the night. The soul is required to pass through a series of gates through the journey and each gate is associated with a different god or goddess. The eleventh gate called “Mysterious Of Approaches” (the gate before dawn) was overseen by the cat-headed god Meeyuty. The final 12th gate was watched over by Isis and Nephthys and the journey through the gates of the afterlife would then be completed as the sun (Ra) rose into the world in the form of a sacred scarab.

It is possible that Meeyuty was the same deity as “Mauti” who is depicted in the Tomb of Seti II and believed to refer to Mau or Mau-Aa, the Great Cat, a form of Ra (Re).

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“This male Cat is Re himself, and he was called ‘Mau’ because of the speech of the god Sa, who said concerning him: ‘He is like (Mau) unto that which he hath made; therefore, did the name of Re become ‘Mau.’ ” (Budge, 1895, p.287)

[Special thanks to some of our cat demi-gods for participating in this post: Our Re, in the aspect of the fiery Sun God, poses on the top, Little Kitty is in the middle and the honorable Derbyshire is on the bottom.]