Also known as: Dumuzi

InannaIshtar took Tammuz, the divine shepherd, as her lover. He quickly became her favourite, and she honored him above all others. Their love affair is the subject of sacred hymns. Following her resurrection, Inanna-Ishtar was permitted to leave captivity in the Realm of Death if she sent someone back to replace her. Returning to her palace, she anticipated her reunion with Tammuz, whom she assumed would be weeping and mourning for her. Instead she discovered him seated on her throne, enjoying the luxuries of her palace. Any guesses as to who she chose as her replacement?

Tammuz fled but Inanna-Ishtar pursued. He did not wish to die. His devoted sister Gestinanna fought on his behalf, eventually negotiating a deal in which she serves half his time annually while Tammuz is permitted to return to life.

Tammuz is considered the prototype of the dying and resurrecting grain deity. He is compared to Persephone, a force of nature that refuses to stay dead, although disappearing into the depths of Earth annually. After his descent into darkness, Inanna-Ishtar wept bitterly for his loss, beginning the annual sacred ritual of weeping for Tammuz. This ritual was still honored centuries later and had been incorporated into folk Judaism as the Bible complains. Ezekiel 8:14 recounts the prophet’s vision of Jewish women mourning for Tammuz at the gate of King Solomon’s Temple: “He brought me to the entrance of the Gate of the House of the Lord … and behold! There sat women weeping for Tammuz”.

Tammuz, sometime chthonic spirit, is among those deities invoked in the magic spells of the Magical Papyri of Alexandria.


Lapis lazuli flute


He owns black dogs; he is compared to a wild bull.



Day: Ritual mourning for Tammuz begins annually with the Summer Solstice.

Month: The Hebrew lunar month Tammuz, named in his honor, corresponding in time to the zodiac sign Cancer; the corresponding month in the Turkish calendar is Temmouz.

See Also:

  • Adonis;
  • Chthonic Spirits;
  • Ereshkigal;
  • Gestinanna;
  • Inanna-Ishtar;
  • Nergal


Encyclopedia of Spirits: The Ultimate Guide to the Magic of Fairies, Genies, Demons, Ghosts, Gods & Goddesses – Written by : Judika Illes Copyright © 2009 by Judika Illes.

Tammuz (Dumuzi) (rightful son?) In Near Eastern mythology (Babylonian), god of corn and vegetation; he died each winter and was resurrected each spring; originally a Sumerian deity, Dumuzi. Tammuz was originally a sun god, the son of Ea and the goddess Siduri and the lover or husband of the great goddess Ishtar. His love affair and death are told in the ancient poem Ishtar’s Descent into the Underworld, known in various versions throughout the Near East, in which the goddess offers her youthful lover to be killed in place of herself. In Canaan Tammuz was called Adonai (my lord), and a great festival, celebrating his death and resurrection, was observed in various Near Eastern cities. Gebal was the chief seat of the spring festival in Phoenicia. “Gardens of Adonis” were planted—pots filled with earth and cut herbs (which soon withered away) in which wooden figures of the god had been placed. Wailing women tore their hair and lacerated their breasts during the seven days of the festival. The Hebrew prophet Ezekiel saw women in the north gate of the temple “weeping for Tammuz” (Ezekiel 8:14).


Encyclopedia of World Mythology and Legend, Third Edition – Written by Anthony S. Mercatante & James R. Dow – Copyright © 2009 by Anthony S. Mercatante