Sunday, 15 September 2013

Goddess Astarte Queen of the Heavens: History, Legends and how you can learn from her today.

History of Astarte

Astarte is one of the oldest goddesses in recorded history.  She was worshipped in many guises as a goddess of fertility, wisdom, love and war. She was also known as Astarat and Ashtart. She was worshipped throughout the Middle east and many worshipped her including the Phoenicians/Canaanites, Egyptians and Hebrews. Astarte also appears to have been worshiped in Syria as Atargatis and this worship covered a large area from Syria across the Mediterranean. This name seems to have come from a combining of the names Astarte and Anat. According to Patai, the "original meaning of the name Astarte was 'womb' or 'that which issues from the womb,' thus it can be easily seen her link as a fertility goddess (Patai 1990:57)

Among the Hebrews, Astarte was also known as Ashtoreth and they worshipped her alongside Ba’al. Once the rise of monotheism began and the popularity of Yahweh, people began to reject Goddesses such as Astarte/Ashtoreth and her popularity declined.

The prophet Jeremiah called her the Queen of Heaven during the 7th and early 6th centuries B.C.E and the people of Judah feared that abandoning the worship of the goddess would lead to problems:
“Ever since we stopped burning incense to the Queen of Heaven and pouring out drink offerings to her, we have had nothing and have been perishing by sword and famine.” (Jeremiah , 44:18)
To the Egyptians, Astarte was honoured as a Goddess of War and tenacity. In the Egyptian mythology she was thought of as the daughter of Ra the Sun god along with the Goddess Anat. The Romans also looked upon her as their Goddess of Hunting and War. Astarte would often join the hunt at the full moon and reward the hunters with special gifts.

To the Semites, she was a Goddess of Love and Fertility. Pregnant women would carry plaques and figurines of her wherever they went, and they would often burn incense in her honour as a way of ensuring that they would give birth to healthy children.

Legends of Astarte

In the Phoenician pantheon Astarte appears as a daughter of Epigeius (Greek: Uranus) and Ge (Earth), and sister of the god Elus. Elus ovethrows his father and as a trick  Epigeius sends Astarte along with her sisters to seduce Elus. The trick seemingly backfires as all three become wives to their brother and Astarte bears him seven daughters and two sons. Astarte becomes a great ruler and wears the horns of a bull to signify her power. Whilst wandering through her kingdom, Astarte takes up a star that has fallen from the sky and consecrates it at Tyre. Hence her title of Queen of the Stars

A story exists which is often associated with Astarte in her aspect as the Goddess of Fertility. Every Autumn, Astarte descended into the Underworld to search for her beloved Tammuz. When she left to go down into the Underworld, the Earth entered the cold barrenness of Winter, and it stayed that way until she returned, three months later, bringing with her the rebirth and growth that is associated with the season of Spring. This story has echoes of the story of Persephone going into the underworld to be with Hades only to return in the Spring when the world re-awakens.

Scholars who have studied Astarte see similarities between her story and that of the virgin Mary. In Syria and Egypt she was celebrated on 25th December with the dramatisation of the re-birth of the solar god from the celestial virgin. It is because of this legend that  of Astarte's holy days was associated with Yule, and it is believed that she created the Evergreen Tree out of her sorrow and love for Tammuz
Another legend surrounding Astarte is that she was the mother of all souls: the moon surrounded by her star children to whom she gave their astral bodies.

Some say that the word Easter derives from the word Astarte although it is commonly thought that it derives from Oestara. 

Another story states that Astarte descended to earth as a fiery star, landing near Byblos in a lake at Alphaca, the site where the original Tammuz is said to have died.

Astarte’s oldest known temple was at Byblos. Byblos is a city, which lies on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea, in the country that is now known as Lebanon. Byblos was a major trading city and Astarte was a key figure seen as a Goddess of learning and wisdom. The Phoenicians extended the worship of Astarte. From cities such as Byblos, Tyre, and Sidon, they set forth by sea on long trading expeditions, and, venturing far and wide, they even reached Cornwall in England!
The Greeks were the first people to call papyrus by the term “byblos,” and that term eventually evolved into meaning any holy book, including the Bible. Legend also tells us that this may be how and where the Bible got its name
Astarte has been associated with goddesses such as Artemis, Aphrodite and Inanna and indeed these goddesses could represent Astarte under a different name. She was known as Inanna to the Sumerians, and Ishtar to the Babylonians. The Greeks identified her with Aphrodite and the Romans with Venus, this could explain her being linked to the evening star.

Symbols for Astarte

Astarte on her many names and guises has had many symbols associated with her. She was known as the ‘Queen of the Stars’ . According to legends Astarte fell from the stars to the earth. One of her symbols is a star within a circle to represent her status as ‘Queen of the stars’ or the evening star for which she is also known. As the "Queen of the Stars," or the "Heavenly Virgin,” Astarte was believed to rule the "spirits who lived in heaven as light,"

The bull and the dove are especially sacred to Astarte and Astoreth. The Goddess is often pictured wearing horns. The horns could also be a crescent moon symbol, part of the triple goddess symbol. Astoreth is sometimes pictured wearing the head of a Bull

The egg is a sacred symbol of Astarte, representing fertility, new life and the powers of the Goddess. Also in her role as a fertility Goddess she is often depicted holding an ever flowing jug of water whilst surrounded by flowers and grain.

In her guise as a goddess of war Astarte is seen carrying a bow and arrow much like Artemis. She is depicted riding horses and banishing weapons in several pieces of art that have been discovered.

Her image is most frequently seen on ancient seals or reliefs holding the sacred lotus in one hand and two entwined serpents in the other. The Lotus is a flower which is considered to be a universal symbol, connected to the Great Mother Goddess. Known as the "flower of light," lotus petals were been believed to represent the sun’s rays, while its stem was believed to represent an umbilical cord. The belief that the Lotus’ stem might represent an umbilical cord is indicative of the fact that all life stems from, or is born from, the Great Mother. The lotus flower therefore is a symbol of all that out mother earth provides for us and is associated with creative power, fertility, life  and growth.

Another symbol that was unique to Astarte was papyrus, which the merchants of Byblos would sell to the Greeks, as well as to other traders from the entire Mediterranean region. As the Goddess of wisdom in Blybos, papyrus was very important as the foundation for the production of paper.

Astarte is also associated with several animals such as lions, horses and the sphinx. Birds, particularly the dove, are important symbols for this goddess since they are used as a means of reaching the underworld and/or heaven.

Drawing on Astarte Wisdom Today

You can draw upon the ancient goddess power of Astarte by visualizing the light of the stars pouring down through your crown chakra surrounding you with an iridescent aura and filling you with her bountiful energy and protection. Call upon Astarte the Queen of the Stars whenever you have need of this protection.

Just as Astarte drew upon her inner strength and wisdom to face what lay ahead of her, so can we embrace this power.  She is a symbol of the independence and spirit that gives birth to our creativity and encourages us with our successes. Astarte is both the maiden and mother goddess and personifies the passion of life, the beauty of our mother earth and the sacredness of all beings.

In her roll of fertility Goddess you can ask for her help in this area. If you are seeking to become pregnant you can ask for her guidance or if you are starting a new project that you wish to spring into being, she will be there for you.

Decide what Astarte really means for you. Because she is such an ancient Goddess she has had many names and forms and been worshipped by many different people. Thus she has different strengths as seen by various cultures. You can therefore pick what resonates best for you at this time in your life. Perhaps you need strength, or rather you, need nurturing.  Astarte is a strong yet gentle Goddess and can be adapted to a host of different situations.

Astarte Poems

"She was the Mother of the Moon, Daughter of the Sun, Ruler of the Stars and Keeper of the Earth. In the beginning, Astarte was the whole.” unknown

“Great Bountiful Goddess of Antiquity
Your sacred fires are again lighted
Your name is again spoken with reverent awe
The High Places are no longer abandoned
Your Sacred Altars are again tended
Earth is re-awakening to your voice.” Unknown

“Isis, Astarte, Diana, Hecate, Demeter, Kali, Inanna,” Wiccan energy chant

Picture credit shttp://lunalioness.wordpress.com/

Astarte blessings to you, Alison


Patai, Raphael 1990 (1978). The Hebrew Goddess: Third Enlarged Edition. Detroit, MI: Wayne State University
Tubbs 1998:140-141
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language: Fourth Edition. 2000)