You are about to enter the shrine of
the ancient babylonian goddess Ishtar.
(Entrance at the bottom of this page)
First you shall have and read some information on this goddess of old,
so that you approach her in the appropriate way.
|Other Names and Titles||General Article about Ishtar|
|Her Signs and Symbols||Offerings|
|Cult Centers||And now enter her shrine|
Other Names and Titles
Picture: Susan Boulet
Inanna (sumerian name),
Astarte (kanaanäic name),
Arinna (hethitic sun goddess), Tanit (karthargic name)
Anna = Goddess,
Other spelling: Ishara, Istar, Istaru, Aschtar, Aschtart,
Babylonian scriptures called her the "Light of the World, Leader of Hosts,
Opener of the Womb, Righteous Judge, Lawgiver,
Goddess of Goddesses, Bestower of Strength,
Framer of All decress, Lady of Victory,
Forgiver of Sins, Torch of Heaven and Earth.
Many are her sacred titles -
"Exalted Light of Heaven",
"She Who Begets All", "Guardian of the Law" and "Shepherdess of the Lands" -
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Besides these titles there is a number of titles
of the goddess Ishtar that can easily be realized
as former territorial goddesses -
She assimilated into herself
a number of 'lesser' deities.
In the case of Ishtar this is well documented and traceable,
and the following alphabetical listing will show a goddess
who should perhaps be called 'Ishtar Incorporated'.
Ishtar as Venus the evening-star and goddess of love
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The origin of this babylonian-assyrian main goddess was a semitian vegetation- and moon goddess with lower influence, but when these tribes arrived at the land of the sumerian kingdom, her cult reached the sumerian capital Uruk. The sumerian people identified Ishtar easily with their own goddess Inanna. After some time Ishtar became in the second millenium the highest and widest worshipped goddess of the Babylonians. The myths of Inanna became the myths of Ishtar:
Ishtars reign was not depending on a male consort, she reigned absolute on her own and united in her all the aspects of femininity. Her position in the Babylonian pantheon was the highest, but her family relations are a bit confusing: Ishtar was daughter of the moon goddess Ningal and her consort Nanna (akk. Sin), who were the Citygods of Uruk. In other traditions she appears to be the daughter of the sky god Anu, later she also became his wife.
She was also the sister of the sun god Utu/Marduk and the underworld goddess Ereschkigal ("Mistress of the great under"). She appeared in person wearing a zodiac belt together with hunting dogs like Diana or riding on a lion, her holy animal.
She was the Queen of heaven (Scharrat Schame) and the mother, who had born the world and still remained a virgin.
Her consort or husband was Tammuz ( sum.: Dumuzi), river god of Euphrates and Tigris, who was meanwhile also her son and her brother. When the world began, Tammuz (faithful son) came together with Ishtar in the world. She bore him, she made love with him and she remained a virgin. When Tammuz died in the summer and all vegetation died with him, Ishtar was looking for him all over the world. She finally found him in the underworld and brought him back to life (see Celtic believe). Tammuz was reborn and the vegetation could flourish again. Then the ritual-festival of the "Holy Marriage" was celebrated at the time of the autumn equinox, when in the Near-East the first rain fell again.
For the assyrian people she was mainly a war goddess (Lioness of the battle), but also the love and the sexual life belonged to her realm of influence. Moreover she was the Goddess of justice and healing.
Bigger than the mountains am I,
The Empress of the gods am I
The Queen of heaven am I
The earth's mistress am I.
(translation of an old Babylonian text)
In other sacred texts Ishtar is described as having "sweet lips" and a "beautiful figure" and it is clear that she takes much pleasure in love. Significantly, when she descends to the Netherworld all sexual activity ceases everywhere on earth. In this aspect her familiar and symbolic animal is the dove. Ishtar was also thought to rule the menstrual/ovarian cycle.
In the Old Testament her worship is regarded as an abomination, and it is Ishtar's worshipers and her ishtarishtu (sacred prostitutes) who were to be found even at the doors of the Hebrew god's great temple, much to the consternation of his priests and prophets.
As well as being renowned for her powers of creation, divine rulership, prophesy and desire, Ishtar was also regarded as a healer and we know that her effigy once was transported all the way to Egypt in order to heal the then sick Amenhotep III.
Her Signs and Symbols
|The Zodiac belt, Scimitar and Lionsceptre|
appearance was seen in the planet Venus as Zib,
the eveningstar and Dilbah, the morningstar.
|Her Number was 15.|
|Her sacred animal: Lion|
Young Animals as sacrifice
Oil, Wine and things made out of her
stone Lapis (f.e. a vulva).
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|Many are the places where shrines were erected to her and her names invoked. Most famous of these are Niniveh, Aleppo and Babylon, where a beautiful temple to her was erected in about 550 BCE. But also the old temples of Inanna became a home for Ishtar as well. The main temple of Ishtar in Babylon was called Eturkalamma. She was also worshiped in the cities Uruk, Akkad and Kisch.|
And now enter her shrine