After the school days, I commonly come home and spend about an hour of quiet time in my favorite reading chair. I sit and try to not think about my day, or my ever-growing To Do List, usually while scrolling through social media. I like to think of myself as a silent social media observer. I do not post on Facebook often, but find myself on it looking at what others have posted multiple times a day. A couple of weeks ago I came across this image: I was completely intrigued. While it is easy to understand that bunnies and chicks and eggs don’t seem to have anything to do with the resurrection of Jesus, I had never heard of this goddess as a reason for these symbols. In fact, I had never heard of Ishtar at all. Sooooooo… I began my research!
Ishtar: Inana(Sumarian): Ištar (Akkadian)
Goddess of Sexual Love and Warfare
It seems to be that Ishtar was one of the most prominent Gods in the Mesopotamian pantheon. She was also referenced in Gilgamesh, Shmoop notes that “the goddess of love and war, has a small, devastating role in the epic. She basically lets all fire and brimstone loose, which leads to a clash with Enkidu and Gilgamesh, which in turn leads to Enkidu getting the death penalty from the gods, which in turn sends Gilgamesh off on his failed quest for immortality.”
Ishtar’s temples: “The main city of Inana/Ištar is Uruk. As one of the foremost Mesopotamian deities, she had temples in all important cities: Adab, Akkade, Babylon, Badtibira, Girsu, Isin, Kazallu, Kiš, Larsa, Nippur, Sippar, Šuruppak, Umma, Ur” (Ancient Mesopotamian Gods and Goddesses)
This goddess inhabits both masculine and feminine qualities; the masculine side of this goddess shows itself in her warrior persona, and the feminine is displayed in poems of her love and lust. This divide causes Ishtar to be portrayed as both a coy young girl and a femme fatale.
“In human form as the goddess of sexual love, Inana/Ištar is often depicted fully nude. In Syrian iconography, she often reveals herself by holding open a cape. The nude female is an extremely common theme in ancient Near Eastern art, however, and although variously ascribed to the sphere of Inana/Ištar (as acolytes or cult statuettes), they probably do not all represent the goddess herself. A sound indication of divine status is the presence of the horned cap. In her warrior aspect, Inana/Ištar is shown dressed in a flounced robe with weapons coming out of her shoulder, often with at least one other weapon in her hand and sometimes with a beard, to emphasize her masculine side. Her attribute animal as the goddess of war is the lion, on the back of which she often has one foot or fully stands. In praise of her warlike qualities, she is compared to a roaring, fearsome lion (see Inana and Ebih, ETCSL 1.3.2). In her astral aspect, Inana/Ištar is symbolized by the eight-pointed star. The colors red and carnelian, and the cooler blue and lapis lazuli, were also used to symbolize the goddess, perhaps to highlight her female and male aspects respectively (Barret 2007: 27).” (Ancient Mesopotamian Gods and Goddesses)
But… After reading all of this… I don’t know how the discussion of Ishtar in relevance to Easter came to be. After all, if Ishtar- the patron goddess of prostitution(Ancient Mesopotamian Gods and Goddesses) is being referenced on this day that is so sacred to Christians there had to have been a good connection. But as I read, I saw no discussion of eggs, no discussion of bunnies, and not talk about Constantine.
And then I found this blog and it all made sense. There was confusion between the Sumerian Ishtar, and the Eostre- a GERMANIC goddess!
While I won’t waste your time trying to break down how the Facebook image was SO WRONG, I will leave you with this:
Sometimes researchers get their mind blown by accident. Sometimes these inquiries take an odd turn, and THAT IS OKAY! I learned about not one goddess on this inquiry adventure today, but TWO! How neat!
Until next time,
Thanks for stomping out ignorance with me!