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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Deity of the Week - Ishtar

Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Next week I start to talk about Ostara again. But today I wanted to start my series on deities back up. Hope you enjoy.

One of the most popular myths of Ishtar is about her descent into the underworld using the Eastern entrance in attempt to obtain Ereshkigal's power over the underworld. In order to reach Ereshkigal, Ishtar needed to pass through the seven gates of the underworld, and was not allowed to pass through unless she removed an article of clothing for each of gate. Her clothes were symbollic of her divine power, thus she was systematically weakened in this fashion. By the time she arrived in the inner palace, she was naked and almost dead, but still determined to complete her task, when Ereshkigal arose from her throne, Ishtar took it. Ereshkigal's counselors, the Anunnaki, sentenced her to death for this action & hung her corpse on a hook.

However, before Ishtar had begun her journey, she had instructed her messenger, Ninshubur, that if she did not return within 3 days and 3 nights, to seek help for that would mean she was dead. Ninshubar first sought help with the gods, Enlil and Nanna, but they refused to aid her believing she deserved to die for her ambition. He then asked Enki, the lord of wisdom who had access to the food and water of life, for aid. Enki created 2 creatures, the kurgarru and the kalaturru, from the dirt of his fingernails & instructed them to carry the food and water of life to Ishtar in order to revive her. Their mission suceeded, but the Anunnaki demanded a substitute for her if she was to leave. A legion of demons accompanied her from the netherworld to search for her replacement. Ishtar refused to allow the demons to take anyone who had wept for her during her confinement as a replacement.

When Ishtar came upon her husband, Dumuzi, she found him adorned in a magnificent robe instead of mourning clothing. She told the demons to take him as her substitute. Dumuzi quickly used his magic to change himself into a reptile, & escaped to his sister, Gestinanna. She took pity on him & agreed to take his position in the underworld for half the year, while he would spend the other half the year in the underworld.

This is one of the many possible stories that led to the Christian Story of Easter. But probably not the only one. There is also the worship of Eostre. But much of the myth surrounding this Germanic Goddess has been lost to history.

Blessed Be!

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