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Celebrate Ishtarfest With Us!

October 7, 2022

This is the 7th consecutive year that Hands of Change has offered a festival celebrating Sumerian mythology, religion and culture. What we seek to do with Ishtarfest is to help bring back the worship of the elder gods in modern day Paganism.

Greek thought can be directly traced to Mesopotamian/Sumerian societies. Both Hesiod and Homer relied extensively on Sumerian sources for their writings, and strong similarities exist between the two culture’s mythologies. These works were central to the development of Greek thought, which influenced European and American structural and cultural development.

The influence of the Mesopotamian city of Uruk reached as far as Egypt, where similarities can be seen between Sumerian and Egyptian artwork, as well as between their pantheons.

Growing up in our culture with Greek and Egyptian mythology taught in our classrooms, modern Paganism has taken on the flavor of those and more Celtic influences. We believe that it’s time to trace our roots back even farther to the Fertile Crescent to learn about the birth of pagan civilization and its influence on our world today.

The history of the festival, which has already occurred 7 times in this century, is as follows:

2003 – Shapatu of Ishtar, Two Nights in Babylon

2016 – Ishtarfest, featuring the play The Shapatu of Ishtar

2017 – Ishtarfest’s Sumerfaire, A Sumerian Renaissance Faire

2018 – Ishtarfest, Journey Through The Goddess (centering on the Goddess Chant – Isis, Astarte, Diana, Hecate, Demeter, Kali, Inanna)

2019 – Ishtarfest, to the Kur and Back (Sweat lodges and descent ritual)

2020 – Virtual Ishtarfest: 5th Annual Ishtarfest Coming to You in Your Living Room

2021 – Virtual Ishtarfest: Regeneration

2022 – Hybrid Ishtarfest, Ascent from the Kur

As we move into our festival, we encourage you to find out more about the links between more modern pagan cultures and the inspiration that they derived from Sumerian religion and mythology. Our presenters will shed light on why Mesopotamia has relevance for Paganism today.

In person, we plan to have 7 offerings (classes, rituals, or activities), one for each gate offered in ascending order as we Rise throughout our in-person festival day in Old Bridge, NJ on Saturday, Oct. 22. Each gate activity is being associated with one of the 7 chakras, starting with the root. All those who attend in person are invited to also participate in the virtual parts of the festival on Friday Oct. 21 and Sunday Oct. 23. Local priest/esses and even a local author will be inspiring and guiding your rise from the Underworld.

We are very honored to have some amazing speakers from all over the world this year in our virtual component of the festival:

Ed Vanderjagt of Temple of Enki and Temple of Sumer will be entertaining us with season-appropriate spooky Mesopotamian lore. Take a look at some of the demons and mythological creatures that you might not be aware of in Demons and Monsters, Both Good and Ill. Also, The Journey of the Ancestor Spirits will cover the Sumerian/ Mesopotamian concept of the soul and cover the soul’s descent into the underworld.

Hercules Invictus of Heraklidae (The Tribe of Hercules: Olympian Shamanism, Heroic Path) will trace the hero Hercules through Ancient Near Eastern, Egyptian, Indian and other Herculeses. Has this hero survived and is he active in our modern era? This workshop explores these and many other Herculean questions!

Rev. Kae of Hearth Element will be presenting on Tiamat, The Mother of Life. Weaving the story of her own awakening to Tiamat with the Sumerian-Mesopotamian Creation Myth and how culturally universal is the symbology of that story. Her presentation will include sound healing and guided meditation.

Lindsey River, a writer and poet from the UK, will share Ishtar’s Queer Servants – discussion and sharing of her research in the British Library’s collection about sex and gender variance and possible practices in the Inanna/Ishtar temples and their activities.

Shu Yap, an astrologer in Central Victoria, Australia will share The Venus Cycle: Sacred Whispers of Inanna. The weekend of Ishtarfest falls in a particularly auspicious time for the planet Venus, the morning and evening star known as Inanna or Ishtar. Prepare yourself for the sacred journey of Ishtarfest with Shu’s wisdom.

Steff V Scott of the Temple of Inanna in Scotland will be presenting “In Search of Eostre (Easter is ALL about Ishtar).” If you think Inanna is just an ancient Middle Eastern goddess, you’ll be fascinated to learn how she made it into Germanic tradition. She is indeed well-traveled!

These speakers and others will begin to unravel the mysteries that Mesopotamia beckons us as modern-day pagans to learn.

Tickets available here:

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