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Introducing Ishtar

May 24, 2016

Merry Meet Everyone!

Don’t forget, we are still offering Saturday Only Passes at a discounted rate of $35! You will be able to experience the entirety of the event with this ticket price but the $50 weekend pass will include some extra camping fun. In order to get everyone excited for IshtarFest, each week we’re going to give you bits and pieces of information about the production in hopes that each of you will have a better understanding before attending the festival! We still have several spaces available, so if you’ve not already done so, registration links will be below this post. This week we’re going to introduce to you to Goddess Ishtar, the Morning and Evening star, goddess of fertility, love, war and sex. Continue reading on for all the fun:

ishtarIshtar, also know as Innana (Sumerian)/Ištar (Akkadian), is among the most important deities and the most important goddess in the Mesopotamian pantheon. She is primarily known as the goddess of sexual love but is equally prominent as the goddess of warfare. In her astral aspect, Inana/Ištar is the planet Venus, the morning and the evening star.

Inana/Ištar is by far the most complex of all Mesopotamian deities, displaying contradictory, even paradoxical traits. In Sumerian poetry, she is sometimes portrayed as a coy young girl under patriarchal authority (though at other times as an ambitious goddess seeking to expand her influence, e.g., in the partly fragmentary myth Inana and Enki, and in the myth Inana’s Descent to the Netherworld). Her marriage to Dumuzi (Tammuz) is arranged without her knowledge, either by her parents or by her brother Shammash. Even when given independent agency, she is mindful of boundaries: rather than lying to her mother and sleeping with Dumuzi, she convinces him to propose to her in the proper fashion.

There is, arguably, a persistent commonality between these two natures of Inana/Ištar: her sexuality. The young Inana of Sumerian poetry, who says “Plough my vulva, man of my heart” is no less desirous than the Inana/Ištar portrayed in Gilgameš: “Let us enjoy your strength, so put your hand and touch our vulva!” Accordingly, Inana/Ištar was the recipient of prayers regarding (im)potency or unrequited love. Inana/Ištar was also the patron goddess of prostitutes.

Inana/Ištar is equally fond of making war as she is of making love: “Battle is a feast to her”. The warlike aspect of the goddess tends to be expressed in politically charged contexts in which the goddess is praised in connection with royal power and military might. This is already visible in the Old Akkadian period, when Naram-Sin frequently invokes the “warlike Ištar” (aštar annunītum) in his inscriptions and becomes more prominent in the Neo-Assyrian veneration of Inana/Ištar, whose two most important aspects in this period, namely, Ištar of Nineveh and Ištar of Arbela, were intimately linked to the person of the king.

The role of the goddess in legitimizing political power was not, however, restricted to her masculine aspect as the warlike Ištar but is attested also for the sexual Inana in her female aspect. Attributed to early Sumerian history, the so-called “sacred marriage” ceremony celebrated the marriage of Inana (represented by her high priestess) and Dumuzi (represented by the ruler) during the New Year’s festival to ensure prosperity and abundance. Practiced in the late third and early second millennium BCE, the sacred marriage rite, which may have “have been only an intellectual construct, rather than an event in real life”, nevertheless served to express the relationship between the king and the divine world Accordingly, that many third-millennium rulers described themselves as her spouse, points to Inana’s significant agency in wielding political power.

A liminal, that is, in-between, role may also be ascribed to Inana/Ištar by virtue of having travelled to and back from the underworld. In her mythological descent to the netherworld, she sits on her sister Ereškigal’s throne, rouses the anger of the Anunnaki and is turned to a corpse….

To find out how Ishtar is a key to the Shapatu of Ishtar, join us on Friday, June 17th, 2016 – Sunday, June 19th, 2016 for the IshtarFest in Central NJ. This information is brought to you by the Hands of Change coven, a non-profit organization for Earth based spirituality. To register for this event, please click here. Last day for online registration to attend this event is Sunday, June 12th! If you’d be interested in vending for this event, please click here. Vendor application deadline is coming up soon!

Source: “Inana/Ištar (goddess).” Ancient Mesopotamian Gods and Goddesses -. Web. 25 Mar. 2016. <http://oracc.museum.upenn.edu/amgg/listofdeities/inanaitar/index.html&gt;.

 

 

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