Astarte (also Ashtart, Ashtoreth) In ancient Phoenicia,
the great Goddess of fertility, motherhood and war.
She is the counterpart to the Babylonian goddess Ishtar
and is one of the oldest Middle Eastern aspects of the
Goddess, dating to the Neolithic and Bronze Ages. Tammuz
is identified as her son/consort, as he is with Ishtar.
According to myth, Astarte descended to earth as a fiery
star, landing near Byblos in a lake at Alphaca, the site
where the original Tammuz is said to have died.
The Phoenicians portrayed Astarte with cow horns,
representing fertility. Ancient Assyrians and Babylonians
portrayed her caressing a child. She was associated with
the moon and called the Mother of the Universe, giver of
all life on Earth. She was ruler of all spirits of the dead,
who lived in heaven in bodies of light and were visible on
earth as stars. Her other counterparts are Isis and Hathor
of Egypt, Kali of India and Aphrodite and Demeter of
Greece.
The first recorded mention of Astarte’s name dates
back to 1478 b.c.e., but her cult was already well established
by then. The cult of Astarte spread westward from
Phoenicia into ancient Greece, Rome and as far as the
British Isles. The goddess was worshiped with sexual
rituals that were condemned by the prophets of the Old
Testament. Sacrifices made to her included firstborn children
and newborn animals.
Christians turned Astarte into a male demon,
Astaroth.

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