The Blessings of Bast
Today, in between my two work shifts and after a particularly lengthy (but successful) presentation at work, I ended up drifting off to sleep momentarily to catch a nap and recharge a bit before my next shift. The dream I found myself plunged into was very dark and meaningless on the outset, until Tango appeared. You can see him in the photo above. When he appeared in my dream, I struggled to gain control of the dream itself. Lucid dreaming is something I’ve been doing since I was a small child. Although I could control certain parts of the dream, Tango was clearly not something belched from my consciousness, moving and acting of his own accord. He crawled up into my lap, nuzzled me over and over, dipped his head low and butted me soundly. In the dream I spoke to him, and told him how much I loved him. This is, I suppose, what some would call a “Big Dream”, in that sense at least.
For those of you who are reading and are unaware, Tango was my best nonhuman animal companion, therapy critter, and “familiar” of thirteen years. An exceptional animal and miracle, he has survived three bouts with soft-cell carcinoma, a particularly deadly form of cancer in cats. It was his fourth encounter, this past year in September of ’09, which finally claimed him after a mere two month fight. I can be blessed in the fact that, despite how hard he fought (I had tried an alternate form of cancer-fighting treatment to aide in his fight–I refused to put him through the hell of chemotherapy), he lost his battle while I was away with my partner in Germany, passing peacefully in his sleep. Later he was honored in the Festival of Bast held by Sannion and Dver, who graciously gave me an opportunity to achieve some closure surrounding his death. In a way this seemed typical of Tango, always living–and in the end dying–by his own terms. It was a blessing that he never had to end his life at the veterinarian’s office. Seeing him in my dream reassured me. It let me know that, even though we were physically parted, we will always be together where it counts. It also led me to thinking about the blessings of Bast.
Quite a few Pagans, when talking of Bast, usually associate her fully in the spectrum of their pet cats, and things revolving around cats. They focus on what she is, but just as important is who she is. And some may think, “Well Solo, what are you getting at? You just talked about your dead cat in relation to Bast yourself.” I loved Tango, in the end, not because he was a cat, but because he was an amazing being. His fiery, solar personality and dominant presence was what truly made him a child of Bast )and also, in a way, a resemblance of Atum-Re as the Great Tom Cat. Solar, fiery, dominant, avenging, beautiful.)
He was comforting. He, like a seizure dog, could predict my oncoming migraines (migraines themselves, at least the type I get, is the “relative” or “kissing cousin” of seizures). He would herd me into my room, snapping at my heels with much urgency. When the pain came on strong, he would sit on my chest (taking care to avoid my stomach and restrict my breathing) and purr so loudly my torso would rumble, soothing my pain and distress. I have had some of the most vivid, meaningful and intense visionary experiences with Tango sitting directly on top of me. The last time he did this, prior to his death, I dreamed deeply and communed with my gods, him resting on my chest and cupping my cheek with his paw, a painfully human-like gesture.
He is fiercely protective, and not shy of delivering retribution to humans and animals many times his size. He had this habit of involving himself in every minor dispute with the other cats in the house (including a 30lb male Norwegian forest cat/Maine coon), lending out cuffs with his meaty, muscular arms and breaking up fights, even attacking humans who he feels are unduly bothering the other feline residents of the household. Many humans in the house would say that he doesn’t stalk or even walk, but “polices” and “patrols” the hallways of the house. A couple people within the house, myself included, carry permanent scars from the strong, rabbit-like kick of his back feet when angered (he had unusually huge back feet for a cat, especially one with such a long and fully-formed tail).
He was immensely sexual. Despite being neutered as a kitten, his favorite thing in the world was a small dog plushie, which he would carry around the house with him. Every day, but particularly around dinnertime, he would set it down onto the floor and mount it, howling in ecstasy all throughout the house. It would get to the point where others in the house would have to hide the offending stuffed dog (usually by picking it up using a rubber glove or paper towel–no one ever had the heart to throw away his personal possession) just so people could get some peace. He is also the only animal I have ever been accosted by; once while in the throes of catnip ecstasy, he wrapped his arms around my arm and attempted to use it as a substitute for his dog plushie. If nothing else, he loved the pleasures of life, and was happy to lose himself in the throes of ecstasy and sheer, unadulterated joy.
When reflecting in the habits of my cat, I see also Bast and the many blessings she can bestow. I also see some of her more violent aspects which, like certain acts of nature, are necessary to the processes of life and sometimes, warnings to be heeded. But, in seeing Tango in my dreams, I took it not only as an indicator of his continued love for me, stretched beyond the grave, but the continued blessings and presence of a goddess of many attributes, an exceptional celestial woman who is far more than meets the eye.