Egyptian Gods: Bat

Bat is the ancient celestial cow goddess of the Egyptians especially revered in Upper Egypt. She was initially the deification of the cosmos, especially the Milky Way. Ancient Egyptian cattle herders (as far back as 8000 BC) believed that the Milky Way resembled a pool of cow milk, which influenced Bat’s her transformation to one of the cow goddesses.

She is depicted as a woman with bovine ears and curled horns that grow from her temples and had a body in the shape of a necklace counterpoise. Stars most often surround her celestial bovine head. Her followers believe that she carries a sistrum all the time to drive away evil. When in human form, her sistrum is found in her head. This is fitting because her cult following is centered in the district of Egypt known as the Mansion of Sistrum – the seventh nome of Egypt known as Shehesh. She has a strong association with the symbol of life, the ankh, because her name (Ba) represented life and her functions with the grand cosmos link her to several parts of the soul of every being.

She comes by many different titles. She is known as “Ba of Two Faces” because of her uncanny ability to see the past and the future, and possibly because of her representation of the two banks of the Nile River. Because of Her bovine features, she acquired the titles “She Who Lows” and the “Great Wild Cow”.

In depictions of Bat during the twelfth dynasty, she is flanked by the often-warring gods, Horus and Set (they represented Upper and Lower Egypt respectively and struggled for the throne of Egypt) and many believers think that she is a unifying force that drove the nation from division into oneness. She has a very close similarity to another cow goddess, Hathor. In fact, their functions overlapped each other and their cult centers were close neighbors (6th nome for Hathor and 7th nome for Bat). However, Hathor being the more popular one eclipsed Bat so that by the New Kingdom, she assimilated all of her characteristics. She is now considered an aspect of Hathor that will never disappear.

Bat is seldom seen in paintings, sculptures and other art forms yet she is a permanent figure in amulets and jewelry. This could also be a reason why her ancient and distinct goddess stature in the early kingdom almost disappeared in favor of Hathor. However, having been depicted in the top corners of the Narmer palate (one of the earliest artifacts in Egypt) making her a very ancient deity.

In the Egyptian Book of the Dead and Pyramid Texts, a familiar text is dedicated to her and it goes:

“I am Praise; I am Majesty; I am Bata with Her Two Faces; I am the One Who Is Saved, and I have saved myself from all things evil.”