Ishtar, or Inanna, is a Babylonian goddess of love, war, and fertility. With lion and spear, she is a formidable warrior, yet she also exudes sexuality. After Gilgamesh spurned her advances, she called upon Gugalanna, the Bull of Heaven and husband to Ereshkigal, to punish him, but Gilgamesh slew Gugalanna. In order to grieve with her sister, Ishtar descended into the underworld, where she was forced to remove a piece of clothing at each gate, only to be killed by her sister when she arrived at her throne, naked. Ishtar’s body hung upon a hook for three days until a faithful servant sent two special beings to rescue her. Because they had no sex, the beings could pass through the underworld. After commiserating with Ereshkigal’s suffering, they were granted access to Ishtar’s body, which they then restored with the bread and water of life. After her resurrection, Ishtar sent her lover to the underworld in her place, enraged that he did not mourn her properly.
Ishtar is a goddess who teaches us sexual independence, rebirth after a loss of self, and retribution. She is strong and sensual, encouraging us to follow our passions and not to accept judgment from others.
image © Selina Fenech