The great mother Goddess of ancient Assyrian
and Babylonian mythology. Ishtar was said to be either
the daughter of the sky god, Anu, or the Moon god, Sin.
Over the course of time, Ishtar absorbed the characteristics
of other goddesses and so represents different
aspects. Worship of her spread throughout the Middle
East, Greece and Egypt. She was an oracle. She ruled
over fertility, sex and war and protected man against
evil. As the many-breasted Opener of the Womb, she was
the giver of all life; as the Destroyer and Queen of the
Underworld, she also was the taker of all life. As goddess
of the moon, her waxing and waning ruled the cyclical
birth and death of the planet. She was the Heavenly Cow,
the Green One, the Mistress of the Field.
Her son, Tammuz, also called the Green One, became
her lover upon his reaching manhood. Ishtar descended
to the realm of the dead to rescue Tammuz, a myth nearly
identical to an earlier Sumerian myth of Inanna and
Damuzi, and similar to the myth of Demeter and Kore.
When Ishtar descended, both fertility and sexual desire
went dormant, to await her seasonal return.
As Queen of Heaven, Ishtar replaced Sin as the moon
deity; she rode through the sky at night in a chariot drawn
by goats or lions. The Zodiac was known as the “girdle
of Ishtar,” which also refers to the ancient moon calendar.
She was the giver of omens and prophecy through
dreams, and through her magic, others could obtain secret
Ishtar was associated with the planet Venus. The lion
and dove were sacred to her.