Sekhmet and Bastet: The Feline Powers of Egypt is a detailed study of the history, mythology, symbolism and worship of the lion and cat goddesses of Ancient Egypt. Lesley Jackson traces the evolution of Sekhmet and Bastet within the context of ancient Egyptian religious rituals, beliefs and practices. Other feline deities, such as the goddesses Mehit, Menhyt, Mestjet. Pakhet (Pasht), Seret, Shesmetet and Tefnut, and gods such as Mahes, Ruty and Amun are also introduced, providing additional insights into the importance of feline divinities in Ancient Egyptian religious life.
Sekhmet is the Lady of Heaven, Mistress of the Two Lands, Mistress of the Gods and the Great One, as well as being the Eye of Ra and the Beloved of Ptah. In the famous story of the Destruction of Mankind, Sekhmet is tricked into drinking a vast quantity of beer to distract her from killing all humanity, which she was intent upon to avenge the Sun God Ra. Bastet was also initially a Lion Goddess who over time evolved into a Cat Goddess associated with the smaller, more docile, domestic cat. Her name translates as She of the Ointment Jar, represented with a hieroglyph of a sealed perfume jar. These goddesses were invoked in numerous aspects of ancient life, including for their fiercely protective nature and healing abilities, and their aid in divination, oracles, malicious magic and love spells.
In this thorough study, the author illustrates how feline symbolism and power permeated Ancient Egyptian life. Evidence demonstrating their importance is brought together from an extensive range of sources, including artefacts, tomb scenes, statues, funerary texts and amulets employed in guarding the body and tomb of the deceased. The names, epithets, iconography, characteristics, festivals and temples of Sekhmet and Bastet provide further insights, alongside information on the cultural, historical and symbolic worlds within which these powerful deities were worshipped.