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Goddess Bast

The Goddess Ishtar

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Ishtar
Babylonian Goddess
of Rebirth and Resurrection

Ishtar, goddess of romance, procreation, and war in ancient Babylon, was also worshipped as the Sumerian goddess Inanna. She falls in the category of great goddesses/mother goddesses, and the stories of her descent to the Underworld and the resurrection that followed are contained in the oldest writings that have ever been discovered. . . the Babylonian creation myth Enuma Elish and the story of Gilgamesh that scholars believe were recorded around 2,000 B.C.

goddess Ishtar

In the myths of the goddesses Ishtar and Inanna, the goddess descended into the land of the dead which was ruled by her sister, Ereskeigal, the goddess of death and infertility. She went there to rescue her lover, a vegetation god named Tammuz, who was being held hostage. She was refused admission to the Underworld.

All acts of procreation ceased while Ishtar was away and the earth remained barren, just as it did in the myths of the Greek goddesses Demeter and Persephone centuries later.  Ishtar ranted and raved at that she would break down the gates, releasing all the dead to compete with the living for what little food remained unless she was allowed to enter and plead her cause.

She won. But the guard, following standard operating, refused to let her pass through the first gate unless she removed her crown. At the next gate, she had to remove her earrings, then her necklace at the next, removing her garments and proud finery until she stood humbled and naked after passing through the seventh (and last) gate.

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In one version of the myth, Ishtar (Innana) herself was then held captive and died but was brought back to life when her servant sprinkled her with the "water of life", but in the more widely known version of the myth, Ishtar's request was granted and she regained all of her attire and possessions as she slowly re-emerged through the gates of darkness.

Upon her return, Tammuz and the earth returned to life. Annual celebrations of this "Day of Joy" were held each year around the time of the vernal equinox. These celebrations became the forerunners of the Ostara festivals that welcomed the goddess and the arrival of spring as well as the Christian celebration of Easter.

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You can read the full story of the Goddess Inanna (Ishtar) here.

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