“Ashtart’s themes are love, prophecy (especially by stars), hope, protection, victory and romance. Her symbols are the star, fire, red and white items and the lion. A Lebanese Goddess for the lovelorn, Ashtart fell from the heavens as a star and landed in Byblos. She became the city’s patroness, renowned for Her prophetic insight, assistance in relationships and protectiveness, especially when one faces a difficult battle. This tremendous power explains the artistic depictions of Ashtart riding a lion (a solar/fire symbol) or having the head of a lion.

International music festivals have been held in Byblos since the late 1960’s to celebrate it as one of the oldest towns in the world with ongoing inhabitants (and an ever-present Goddess!). It was here that a forerunner of the alphabet developed, inspired by the papyrus export trade. With this in mind, take a piece of onionskin paper and describe your emotional needs on it with red ink or crayons. Burning this releases the wish to Ashtart and begins manifesting the magic.

Honor Ashtart and gain Her insight by star-gazing tonight. If you see a falling star and can repeat your wish for love three times before it disappears, folklore says it will be granted. If you see a meteor shower, count the sparks you see while thinking of a suitable binary question for this Goddess. An ever-numbered answer means ‘yes’, an odd-numbered answer means ‘no’.”

(Patricia Telesco, “365 Goddess: a daily guide to the magic and inspiration of the goddess”.)

“Ishtar” by Selina French

“Ashtart (either ‘the Star’, or ‘She of the Womb’), is better known by the name Astarte, the Greek version of Her name. Ashtart is a Semitic Goddess of Love and War and the Canaanite Great Goddess who is the cult partner of Ba’al (“the King”). Semitic describes a group of languages, and by extension, kindred cultures of the Near East and Africa which include Phoenician, Arabic, Hebrew and Assyrian. She is the Deity of the Planet Venus and a Fertility Goddess, and Her cult was known throughout the ancient world for its practice of temple prostitution. She was the main Deity of the cities Sor (more familiarly Tyre), Zidon (Sidon) and Gubla (Byblos), and is frequently shown as an archer either beside or standing on a lion, much like the Babylonian Ishtar, who is quite similar. Snakes and the cypress tree are sacred to Her; and, like the related Arabic Goddess Al-Uzza, whose name, “the Mighty One”, is an epithet of Ashtart, the acacia tree is also Hers.

“Ishtar” by Lisa Iris

As with many of the other Near Eastern Goddesses of the planet Venus, two of Her aspects are that of the Goddess of War and the Goddess of Love. As Venus the Morning Star, Ashtart is a Goddess of War and Hunting; and as the Evening Star, She is the Goddess of Love, Sex, Fertility and Vitality, depicted as a nude woman. In Her role as Goddess of Love She was honored with sexual rites, especially in the city of Sidon or Zidon, and some of Her priests and priestesses there were chosen from the royal family.

In the legends of Ugarit (the modern Ras Shamra on the coast of Syria) of the 14th century BCE, Ashtart is mentioned with the virgin Warrior-Goddess Anath (Anat) as restraining the young God Ba’al, who wishes to overthrow the River God, Yam. When Yam is taken captive, Ba’al kills him, and Ashtart rebukes him for the murder, cursing Him with His own name. She is sometimes called “Ashtart-Name-of-Ba’al” which may refer to Her magical knowledge of His secret name in which His power resides; the idea of a secret or cult name of a Deity, known only to the initiated, was not uncommon in the area: Jehovah is supposed to possess a secret name of power, uttered by Lilith when She left the Garden; and in a legend of Isis, the great Egyptian Goddess, She brings about the downfall of the aging God Ra by speaking his hidden name.

Gold pendant, possibly Astarte. Ugarit. 1500-1200/1150 BCE. Drawing by Stéphane Beaulieu

Several gold pendants from Ugarit, dating to about 1300 BCE depict Ashtart in a highly stylized manner. From a flat gold plate, roughly teardrop-shaped, Her face and breasts emerge; and Her pubic area is depicted as a triangle with dots, I assume representing hair. There is also, however, what appears to be a stylized tree ‘growing’ from that triangle and which ends just below Her navel. This ‘tree’ is perhaps to be equated with the Near Eastern Tree of Life.

Ashtart was worshipped with the young God ‘Adon, son of Malidthu, in the town of Aphek or Aphaca in Palestine, the modern Afka. ‘Adon is a title, rather than a name (as is common among the Phoenicians) meaning ‘Lord’, and He may actually be Eshmun, the young God of Health. The site of the town Aphek was known for its stunning beauty, as it was situated high on a cliff from which a river issued to fall in a great torrent. Under the Greek name Adonis (which also means ‘Lord’), He was a young and very beautiful God with whom Aphrodite (the Greek equivalant of Ashtart) fell in love. Alas, one day while out hunting He was killed by a boar and the Goddess mourned terribly for Him. He represents the young vegetation/crops that are killed in the droughts of the dry season, and the river at Aphek was said to run red with His blood in the rainy season. He had a famous festival in midsummer celebrating His death and resurrection that eventually spread with His worship to Greece, Egypt and Rome, and which was celebrated primarily by women.” [1]

“Astarte” by Christian Brinton

Patricia Monaghan tells us that “Astarte (‘womb’ or ‘she of the womb’) was the Goddess who appears in the Old Testament as Ashtorth, a non-name formed by misreading the Goddess’ name with different vowels so that the word becomes ‘shameful thing.’  What seems to have been shameful to the patriarchal Hebrews was the untrammeled sexuality of the Goddess, one of those who ‘conceived but did not bear’ offspring for Her partners.  In this, Her identity as the Canaanite version of Ishtar becomes more clear, in the ancient eastern Mediterranean the spirit of sexuality was the Goddess who ruled the planet Venus.  As the morning star Astarte was like Anat, a war Goddess robed in flames and armed with a sword and two quivers full of death-dealing arrows, flying into battle like a swallow.  But as the evening star, a Goddess of desire, Astarte descended to the Underworld to reclaim a lost lover, thereby causing all human and animal copulation to cease until She returned” (Monaghan, p. 57)

“For some time Ashtart under the name Ashtoreth seems to have been worshipped side by side with the Hebrew God as His consort; He was early on called Ba’al, a general title meaning ‘Lord’, used in the area to refer to each people’s particular patron God, though their real (and sometimes secret) names were different. This fell out of favor in time as the Hebrews transitioned to monotheism. Apparently they had a hard time with this, though, as Jehovah is forever chiding His people for ‘backsliding’ and returning to the worship of Ba’al and Ashtoreth. Ashtoreth in the Bible is worshipped in groves called after Her asherah and may have been honored as a pillar of wood, or as manifest in the grove itself. In one tale from the Biblical book Judges, Jehovah has Gideon destroy his own father’s shrines to Ba’al and Ashtoreth, which he does in the middle of the night under cover of darkness, as he was too scared of the repercussions to do it in broad daylight.

King Solomon, famous for his great wisdom, was said to have had 700 wives, many of whom were from neighboring Pagan tribes. To accommodate their religions, he built for them temples to their Gods, including a sanctuary to Ashtart in Jerusalem. Jehovah, known far and wide for His jealousy, couldn’t tolerate this and brought about Solomon’s death. On other occasions when the Hebrews reverted to the old religion, Jehovah in a divine fit of pique ‘gave them over into the hands of their enemies’ (also from Judges).

Ashtart also had temples in Ascalon in Philistia, about 40 miles southwest of Jerusalem, and Beth-shean, or Scythopolis, near the Sea of Galilee. She is also said to be the mother of the maiden Yabarodmay, by Ba’al.

The Goddess Athirat-of-the-Sea, who also features in the Ba’al legend, is the wife of El, the Father of the Gods; She has much in common with Ashtart and the two may be aspects of the same Goddess. Some sources make Athirat the Goddess worshipped by the Hebrews as Jehovah’s consort; the two are quite confused, both by modern scholars and the ancients.

Ashtart’s name has many variations depending on the language or city in which She was worshipped. Some examples: She is Astarte to the Greeks, Ashtoreth or Ashtaroth among the Hebrews, Attart or Athtart in the city of Ugarit, Astartu in Akkadian.

Epithets: ‘Goddess of Heaven’, ‘Ashtart-Name-of-Ba’al’, ‘Ashtart-of-the-Sky-of-Ba’al’, ‘The Strong One’, ‘Ashtart-of-the-Fields’, ‘Ashtart-of-the-Battle’; and Kbd, ‘Glory’.” [2]

“Inanna” by Hrana Janto

“Her colors were red and white; in Her honor the acacia tree produced flowers in these colors, so She called it Her emblem.  She also loved the cypresses of Her native country and the stallions that She rode, the first fruits of the harvest, the firstborn of the womb, and all bloodless sacrafices.  In some pictures, Astarte stands small-breasted and naked on the back of a lioness, with a lotus and a mirror in one hand and two snakes in the other.  At other times, to show Her fierce and hungry nature, She was shown with the head of lioness” (Monaghan, p. 57).

“Inanna” by Lisa Hunt

She is the western Semitic equivilant of the Eastern Semitic Inanna, of the Sumerians and Ishtar of the Babylonians; the Greeks identified Her with their Aphrodite, who may have Her origins in Ashtart anyway, as She was believed to have come from the East. Atargatis is confused or equated with Her, and may have originally been the same Goddess; Ba’alat, ‘the Lady of Gubla’ (Byblos) is likely a title for Ashtart. She was equated by the Etruscans with their Mother and Sky Goddess Uni, and is related to Tanit of Carthage.” [3]

* A note on Goddesses of the Near East – “It is often difficult to distinguish the like-named Goddesses of the ancient Near East, partially because the persecuting Hebrews blurred the distinctions between them and partly because over the ages tribes identified their native Goddesses with those of conquering or neighboring peoples.  Such is the case with Astarte, ofter fused or merged with Anat, Asherah, even Atargatis.  Whether She was origionally an independent deity whose identity grew indistinct, or whether Her name was at first a title of Asherah or another Goddess, may never be known.  But Astarte was probably the West Semitic (especially Phoenician) version of that Goddess named, in other languages, Ishtar and Aphrodite” (Monaghan, p. 56 – 57).


Monaghan, Patricia. The New Book of Goddesses and Heroines, “Astarte”.

Took, Thalia. The Obscure Goddess Online Directory, “Ashtart“.



Suggested Links:

Crystalinks, “Astarte“.

Enkidu, Leah. Shrine, “Return of the Holy Prostitute“.

Ishtara. Order of the White Moon, “Ishtar“.

Mikha, Abbey. Assyrian Voice,One Goddess With Many Names“.

Monaghan, Patricia. Encyclopedia of Goddesses and Heroines, “Ashtart“.

Revel, Anita. igoddess.com, “Astarte: survive and surmount life’s battles – goddess of victory“.

Stuckey, Johanna H. MatriFocus Web Magazine for Goddess Women, “Goddess Astarte: Goddess of Fertility, Beauty, War and Love“.

Took, Thalia. The Obscure Goddess Online Directory, “Phoenician“.

Wikipedia, “Astarte“.