Saturday, March 21, 2015

Goddess Astarte

Astarte is the Greek name of the Assyrian, Akkadian, and Babylonian Semitic goddess Ishtar. Her symbols were the lion, the horse, the sphinx, the dove, and a star within a circle indicating the planet Venus. Pictorial representations often show her naked. She has also been known as the deified evening star.

She was worshiped in the Phoenician city states of Sidon, Tyre, and Byblos; as well as Syria and Canaan, beginning in the first millennium BC. She came from the same Semitic origins as the Mesopotamian goddess Ishtar. Her worship spread to Cyprus. Greeks in classical, Hellenistic, and Roman times occasionally equated Aphrodite with Astarte, in keeping with their frequent practice of synchronizing other deities with their own. Other faith centers were Cythera, Malta, and Eryx, in Sicily, from which she became known to the Romans as Venus.

Astarte arrived in Ancient Egypt during the 18th dynasty. She appeared as daughter of Ra, and was given in marriage to the god Set.

She was usually depicted full faced and naked, except for some ornamental jewelry. Astarte also appeared holding her breasts in her hands. Her thighs were rounded, which was considered to be extremely feminine in that particular culture, while her legs, from her knees down through her ankles to her feet, were pressed closely together.


Easter, the celebration of Jesus's resurrection, is the most sacred day of the Christian year. In ancient Babylon, around the spring solstice, people celebrated the resurrection of their god Tammuz, who was brought back from the underworld by his mother/wife Ishtar (pronounced “Easter” in most Semitic dialects). Flowers, painted eggs, and rabbits were the symbols of the holiday then, as now.

Edward Henry Corbould (1815-1905)

Inanna, another aspect of Ishtar, was a Goddess of Sensual and Sexual Love, and her followers practiced what has been referred to as “sacred prostitution.” Ishtar was also known as the Lady of Battles, and it was in this particular aspect that she sported a full beard, which fell all the way to her breasts. She rode in a chariot which was similar to Astarte’s and like Astate's, it was drawn by seven lions. Ishtar's symbols were the Moon, Venus, the eight-pointed star, a lion and a scorpion.

Charles Allen Winter (1869-1942)
 Nude With Purple Iris, c. Date: 1919
Oil On Stretched Canvas
10 1/2" x 12 1/2"
Private collection

Charles Allan Winter was a versatile and accomplished artist and, along with his wife Alice Beach Winter, a central figure in the art world on Cape Ann for many years.

Born in Cincinnati, Charles Allan Winter enrolled in the Cincinnati Art Academy at a young age. In 1894, Winter was awarded a scholarship to study at the Académie Julian in Paris and in Rome. Returning to this country, he taught portraiture at the St. Louis School of Fine Art from 1898 to 1901.

In 1901, the Winters settled in New York where he worked as a portrait painter and as a magazine illustrator. During this time, like many painters, Winter began experimenting with various color theories and technical approaches to painting using geometric principals to strengthen his compositions. It was around 1910 that the Winters made their first summer visit to Gloucester and Cape Ann. 

Charles Allan Winter was employed during the 1930s as a mural painter under the auspices of the Works Progress Administration. Examples of his murals are preserved within Gloucester’s City Hall. More on Charles Allan Winter 

Salome: Dance of the 7 Veils

Salome: Dance of the 7 Veils is also thought to have originated with the myth of the fertility goddess Ishtar (Astarte) of Assyrian and Babylonian religion.

Dante Gabriel Rossetti
Astarte Syriaca, c. 1877
Oil on canvas
Manchester Art Gallery

Painted in 1877, Astarte Syriaca is a sensual and elaborate Pre-Raphaelite portrait of the goddess Venus. It belongs to the latter part of Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s career. The model was Jane Morris, wife of William Morris. More on this painting

Dante Gabriel Rossetti (12 May 1828 – 9 April 1882) was an English poet, illustrator, painter and translator. He founded the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood in 1848 with William Holman Hunt and John Everett Millais. Rossetti was later to be the main inspiration for a second generation of artists and writers influenced by the movement. His work also influenced the European Symbolists and was a major precursor of the Aesthetic movement.
Rossetti's personal life was closely linked to his work, especially his relationships with his models and muses Elizabeth Siddal, Fanny Cornforth and Jane Morris. More on Dante Gabriel Rossetti

I AM BABYLON. I AM INNIN I AM INANNA I AM NANAEA I AM ISHTAR I AM ASTARTE. I AM the purest heart. The holiest place in existence is my sacred womb. Only love can reside there. Death is left below me; it is not permitted within me. For although I welcome and guide the dead I AM Mother of ALL life. I AM the cleanser. I AM the purifier. No unclean thoughts can pass through the gates to my temple, No loveless lust can enter into my presence

Jacques Reich

In the bible, Ishtar is called Ashtoreth, the supreme goddess of Caanan and the female counterpart of the gods called Baal or Bel. "The immoral rites with which the worship of Ishtar in Babylonia was accompanied were transferred to Canaan and formed part of the idolatrous practices which the Israelites were called upon to extirpate," says Among those pagan, idolatrous practices was the burning of incense, thought to be cannabis (caneh bosm,meaning sweet or good cane, mistranslated as "calamus" in the bible).

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  1. Wonderful information on the goddess, but as a historian I would like to point out that Ishtar was never associated with the holiday Easter and that it actually originated in Judaism. Even though the names may be similar, there just is no actual evidence that the Mesopotamians practiced such a holiday.

    1. Lillian your statement is simply false weather or not you are a historian read here:

    2. Sorry. Lilian has it right and the article you posted amounts to random speculation without a trace of evidence. You don't get to claim holidays are related by claiming vague similarity in words, and Easter is, and remains, the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus, with fertility symbols involved because nothing else expresses resurrection. Stellarhouse just isn't reputable historytelling, sorry.

    3. the imagery depicts her as a phoenix the name and imagery is associated with death resurrection and rebirth

  2. Thank you for your comment! I am not a historian, and am more interested in the art. You can my source of reference by following the link at the end of the post!
    The adoption of other religion's feasts was very common for a very long time, to induce more converts. The most recent examples I can think of being Christianity in Rome!