Sunday, March 9, 2008

Why I learn from Astarte

Astarte was the goddess of fertility, sexuality (love), and war for Semitic tribes. She was also known in other regions as Ishtar, Inanna, and later as Aphrodite and Venus. I love the duality: the combination of what we might consider 'feminine' (love) and 'masculine' (war) traits. I think everyone has some of this duality to some degree, and I don't think women should be expected to be all feminine, all the time (and vice versa for men). I also think it's better to see sexuality, love, and conflict as natural aspects of humans and deal with them accordingly in balance, rather than trying to suppress any one of them. Astarte is one of the lesser known of the aforementioned goddesses, in my opinion, and that's part of why I chose her. I wanted the emphasis to be on the goddess and the complexities that she represents, rather than a romanticized focus on love and beauty. I still love (sorry) that part of her though - I love depictions of Venus in art and have a copy of the Rokeby Venus in my bedroom.

I've always been interested in world religions and mythologies, as well as the anthropological history of women. It seems as though a lot of the ancient (and 'female') deities have been demonized or cast off by more recent cultures, so I think it's interesting to learn about the original meanings and beliefs in these deities. This is also why you might see me posting about the pagan (or other) histories of holidays. It's a good time to talk about the goddess of fertility, considering we're moving into the seasons of Spring, Easter, and fertility! Plants and animals will be seeing new growth and life, decorations with brightly colored eggs will be all over, and we'll all start to wake up out of our winter naps.


Randal Graves said...

The world is complex, but we have a tendency to compartmentalize and simplify things, almost too much. The goddesses you mention are proof of that. Now, when one thinks about Aphrodite, it's the Venus de Milo and nothing else. A lot of the old deities had more than one aspect, but there was a definite syncretism going on as compared to a more monolithic push, post-Constantine, for example. I'm not sure what the point of my comment is, but it's in there somewhere. ;-)

Astarte's Student said...

That might be why I like all the different depictions of goddesses. You have everything from the Venus de Milo to the Venus of Willendorf - we see more aspects of each goddess. It could almost be a representation of the qualities that were important to the cultures who created each depiction.

Fabulously Broke said...

Me too! I've also loved reading about world religions and mythology... and it's interesting to know that similar goddesses exist in many different religions in various forms

astarte's student said...

FB - I agree. The few that we do normally hear about are the Roman and Greek gods, so it's interesting to go even further back and see the more ancient origins of the deities.

Ginger said...

This was a good post, I'm glad I found your blog! (Via FB's)

There are lots of things that can be said to this subject: "All Gods are One God" and the fact that the gods are multifaceted just like we are. It's nice to see other people respecting this and bringing them back.

Do you consider Astarte your matron goddess?

Astarte's Student said...

Ginger, Thanks for stopping by and for your kind words!

That's an interesting question, and it has certainly been making me think. I don't know if I would call her my matron goddess because, for one thing, I'm not entirely sure I understand what that would imply (I know what it means to me but I'm not sure I know what it means to others - does that make sense?). In addition, I draw from a lot of different deities in a more general aspect, such as paintings of Venus, sculptures of the Goddess (from my friend Persephone's Gate), and figurines of Egyptian deities like Bast and a hippo for Tawaret.

They all seem to have a common theme of war and/or fertility though don't they? I wonder what that says about me! heh

Ginger said...

Well I think your choices are perfectly balanced!

That is what it's all about, after all!

You're honouring goddesses that represent the duality of nature, light and dark, life and destruction.

If we didn't have destruction and death, there would be no room for any of the new wonderful things to come about. I think it's all about balance and moderation, like the Celtic goddesses the Morrigan and Cerridwen... they balance each other out.

It's like the Death card in Tarot... it signifies change, and not always actual death.

I'd be interested to hear more of your thoughts on these subjects--I think I'll add you to my blogroll! ;)

Astarte's Student said...

Balance and moderation - that would be a good post subject. There are so many directions it could go.

Thanks for adding me Ginger! That's nice of you. :) It's nice to know someone else interested in this kind of stuff - it'll definitely make me more inclined to post about it in the future.

The older I get, the more I see that cycle of old and new, death and rebirth, both figuratively and literally. I have a quote related to that, actually, but I'll save it for another post.

Thanks again for reading!