Sunday, November 14, 2010

Astarte - the Canaanite Goddess of Fertility

Astarte (also known as Astarat and Astoreth) was believed to be the chief Goddess of Tyre and Sidon, who was also adopted by the Phoenicians, the Hittites, and the Egyptians. To the Phoenicians, she became the predecessor to the Greek Goddess Aphrodite. The Sumerians knew her as Inanna and Ishtar. As "Queen of the Morning Star", she was the Goddess of War. As "Queen of the Evening Star", she was also the Goddess of Passionate Love.

This Semitic Goddess was worshipped by the Syrians, Palestinians, Phoenicians, Egyptians and other Semitic Tribes. King Solomon built a Temple to Her as Astoreth, near Jerusalem.

Also called "Our Lady of Byblos", Astarte, one of the most ancient Goddesses of the Middle East is closely identified with the other Goddesses such as Hathor, Ishtar, Aphrodite, Freya and Irdrani. Byblos, the City of the Great Mother, patronised learning and the priestesses of Astarte's temple collected a great library of papyrus scrolls. The Greeks called the papyrus "byblos", which came to mean any holy book (thus, the Bible). According to Egyptian records, as early as 1500 BCE, Byblos was a prosperous trading center.


Known as the "Queen of the Stars", Astarte ruled over the spirits who lived in heaven as light, hence stars. Traces of legends abound, relating Astarte to the "Black Virgin" in Syria and Egypt where a virgin birth was celebrated each year late in December. Astarte was frequently referred to as the "Heavenly Virgin". 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.

Astarte was worshipped as many things, to the Egyptians, she was honoured as a Goddess of War and tenacity, to the Semites, she was a Goddess of Love and Fertility. Among the Greeks she was transposed into the Goddess of Love Aphrodite. In the Bible, however, she is referred to as "the abomination". Considering her widespread devotion, this is not surprising.

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.

The bull and the dove are especially sacred to Astarte and Astoreth. The Goddess is often pictured wearing horns. Astoreth is sometimes pictured wearing the head of a Bull. The Dove is associated with many Middle-Eastern Goddess rites. A dove perches atop of many Asheras, (tall Moon poles) that marked the "High Places" were outdoor Goddess rituals were frequently held.

The bountiful qualities of the Great Goddess are reflected in all the principal Goddesses of the Mediterranean and Middle-East. Homage was paid to the Goddesses in the form of honey, beer, wine, incense, and animals. These offerings were an important part of honouring the Goddess and insuring future blessings.

The egg is a sacred symbol of Astarte, representing fecundity, new life and the powers of the Goddess. The pomegranate, the "fruit bearing eggs" is an important part of her sacred rites. The pomegranate is also central to the rites of Kore-Persephone, as well as other Goddesses.

The worship of Astarte spread far and wide, and in time, she was worshipped by the Philistines, the Greeks, the Romans, the Sicilians, and in many parts of Europe and Africa.

Like Artemis Diana, Astarte often carries a bow and arrows, and is the centre of many millennia of devotion.







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Sacred Goddess Circles

Exhortation of Isis

You are She in the dust of whose feet is the hosts of Heaven,
Whose body encircles the Universe,
Who turns the Earth in its orb,
Who gives light to the Sun,
Who rules the World.

You tread death underfoot.
To Thee, the stars are responsive,
To Thee the seasons turn and the Gods rejoice
And the elements are in subjugation.


You are She that is the natural Mother of all things,
Mistress and governor of all elements,
The initial progeny of worlds,
Chief of Divine powers,
Queen of Heaven,
Principle of all the Gods celestial and the light of Goddesses.

At Your will are disposed the planets of the air,
The wholesome winds of the seas
And the silences of the unseen world.


Earth Mother

Earth Mother