Ishtar The great mother Goddess of ancient Assyrian and Babylonian mythology. Ishtar was said to be either the daughter of the sky god, Anu, or the moon god, Sin. Over the course of time, Ishtar absorbed the characteristics of other goddesses and so represents different aspects. Worship of her spread throughout the middle East, Greece and Egypt. She was an oracle. She ruled over fertility, sex and war and protected man against evil. As the many-breasted Opener of the Womb, she was the giver of all life; as the Destroyer and Queen of the Underworld, she also was the taker of all life. As goddess of the moon, her waxing and waning ruled the cyclical birth and death of the planet. She was the Heavenly Cow, the Green One, the mistress of the Field.

Her son, Tammuz, also called the Green One, became her lover upon his reaching manhood. Ishtar descended to the realm of the dead to rescue Tammuz, a myth nearly identical to an earlier Sumerian myth of Inanna and Damuzi, and similar to the myth of Demeter and Kore. When Ishtar descended, both fertility and sexual desire went dormant, to await her seasonal return.

As Queen of Heaven, Ishtar replaced Sin as the moon deity; she rode through the sky at night in a chariot drawn by goats or lions. The Zodiac was known as the “girdle of Ishtar,” which also refers to the ancient moon calendar. She was the giver of omens and prophecy through dreams, and through her magic, others could obtain secret knowledge.

Ishtar was associated with the planet Venus. The lion and dove were sacred to her.


The Encyclopedia of Witches, Witchcraft and Wicca – written by Rosemary Ellen Guiley – Copyright © 1989, 1999, 2008 by Visionary Living, Inc.

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