Gems of the Goddess

Ishtar – Goddess of Love and Sex

Today we are going to discuss Ishtar, the Babylonian Goddess of Fertility, Love, War and Sex. She was likened to Venus, Aphrodite and Inanna.   Ishtar and her cult are associated with sexuality including sacred sex and prostitution.  Her symbol is the eight pointed star. Ishtar was known to have many lovers, however, she treated them cruelly.  Her love was known to tame wild animals and could be trouble for even the gods she consorted with in her travels.   Ishtar is known to be cruel and a punisher, not caring who she destroyed in her path to get what she wanted. One of the more popular myths regarding Ishtar is her decent into the underworld to get her lover Tammuz.   She was made to travel through seven gates to reach the Underworld.  At each entrance, she was made to remove a piece of clothing or jewelry.    When she finally reached Ereshkigal, the Queen of the Underworld, she was bare of everything but herself to ask for his return.   Ishtar did get Tammuz out and as she traveled back up through the seven gates, she retrieved her clothing and jewelry.  (Note:  This particular myth has many different endings – Ishtar traveling back alone, Tammuz not grieving her and sitting on a throne promising not to return and Ishtar having to chose someone to take Tammuz’s place in order to get him back.  The one I chose to highlight is the one that is the most positive.) In the story of Gilgamesh, Ishtar also tried to seduce Gilgamesh and make him her husband.  He rejected her and reminded her of her cruel and punishing behavior to those that got close to her.  She then told her father, Anu (the God of Air), who gave her the mystical bull of heaven to exact her revenge.  However, Gilgamesh and his friend Enkidu, were able to kill the bull and brought his head to her.  Ishtar was so infuriated she sent illness to Enkidu, which killed him.  There are two important lessons from Ishtar.  The first is to find our true selves – being stripped down and tearing our self down and rebuilding it through strength and perseverance.  It reminds us not to quit, not matter what the challenge ahead. The second lesson is to understand the consequences of your own actions.  Acting cruel and heartless can cause the same actions to be performed back at you.  It may also result in you being alone or losing people in your life you want to keep.  Remind yourself Ishtar is teaching you how to treat others in order to build relationships and keep people with you, not tear them down.