Danica Nuccitelli
Astarte Presentation Paper

Astarte As Canaanite, Gender-Bending Goddess
	Astarte was worshipped for thousands of years continuously, from
Egypt to Syria to Jerusalem. Thus, we have a wide variety of different
names and personae for Her. "Astarte" originally meant "womb" or "that
which issues from the womb," indicating that She was an inducer and symbol
of fertility for women, just as her brother and lover Baal was for men.
She was the daughter of Asherah and El. "Astarte" itself is just another
name for the Goddess Anath. She has many of the same qualities as Inanna
and Ishtar, and the Egyptians referred to them together in some of the
Egyptian writings we have which reference Astarte, which could be one
reason that She is so often confused with them. Additionally, one of the
main conventions of Semitic poetry of the time was to repeat important
lines without repeating any of the words, as in,
		"He cries to Asherah and her children, 
		To Elath and the band of her kindred." 
		"Whose fairness is like Anath's fairness, 
		Whose beauty like Astoreth's beauty,"
giving us two more names for Anath/Astarte and Asherah/Elath. 
	There is a great deal of Canaanite mythical material about
Astarte. She is by far the most important female figure in their myths,
the Goddess of love and war, both virginal and wanton. Most of her energy
was spent on the battlefield, although she was also very much focused on
sex. The Hebrew Goddess says that "The intercourse between Anath and Baal
is described with graphic explicitness which is unique even among the
unrestrained accounts of lovemaking usual in ancient Near Eastern texts."
The myth to which that passage is referring is one in which Anath and Baal
had sex seventy-seven times in a row, with Anath in the form of a heifer.
She was known as the "Progenitress of the Peoples," having been one of two
wetnurses of the Gods, as well as of King Kenet's son. In Egypt she was
Seth's wife, and an Egyptian magical text from 1300 B.C.E. describes their
sex, on the beach, in what the author of The Hebrew Goddess calls
"surprisingly sadistic terms." 
	Astarte is also the most violent Near Eastern Goddess. She loves
fighting and goes berserk in battle. She smites people so that their heads
fly like sheaves and their hands like locusts, decorates Herself with the
heads and hands, and joyously goes on killing. Anath in Egypt was called
"the Goddess, the victorious, woman acting like a man, clad as a male and
girt as a female." 
	This description is an indicator that Astarte experienced
something common to many Goddesses: the transgendered as holy. She was
often portrayed as having both breasts and an erect penis. When deities
have both sexes in one body, they become what historian Barbara Walker
calls the "Universal Androgyne," representing union, wholeness, and
perfection, rather like yin and yang united. In Syria and Egypt,
Ashtoreth, Astarte, and Ishtar's priestesses were male-to-female
transsexuals who lived and served Her as women, and even had a sex-change
operation where their male genitals were removed and a sort of vagina was
formed, probably under the influence of sacred alcohol, drugs, or a
transcendental ritual. These were only a few among the hundreds of
Goddesses who had similar transgendered portrayals and systems of worship. 
	We can see the reactions of patriarchal governments to this sort
of thing in the Torah/Old Testament. As Leslie Feinberg points out in
Transgender Warriors, deepening class divisions among the Hebrews led to
laws against the polytheistic masses and their neighboring Ishtar- and
Astarte-worshipping communities. Laws against crossdressing and
transsexuality can be found in Deuteronomy, which says in part, "The woman
shall now wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put
on a woman's garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the Lord thy
God," and "He that is wounded in the stones, or has his privy member cut
off, shall not enter the congregation of the Lord." These laws served to
demonize the surrounding communities and their forms of worship, while
putting great pressure on the Hebrew population to at least pretend strict
practice of Judaism. 	
	We can tell that this transgendered Goddess was very popular and
widely-worshipped. There were several cities named after Astarte. One
Canaanite city of Levies was called 'Astartu; its name was changed from a
longer one which meant Astarte of the Two Horns. It is mentioned in
Egyptian documents dating back to the 18th century B.C.E. There's also one
city named Beth Anath, the "house of Anath," and a priestly town named
Anathoth, which today is called Anatha, preserving the "Anath" prefix.
Both are the pluralization of Anath, indicating a generalization of
"Anath," much like the pluralization of "Devi," as there were also many
regional identities for Anaths and probably various village Anaths. She is
mentioned in the Torah as the Goddess whose worship Solomon introduced
into Jerusalem in honor of his Sidonian wife. By the 1940s, more than 300
Astarte figures had been excavated, mostly from a site which used to be
the town of Devir. Today this site is on the Israeli-Jordanian border.
Devir was occupied by Canaanites worshipping Astarte between about 2100
B.C.E. and then destroyed and resettled by Hebrews worshipping Asherah one
hundred years later. The most common religious objects found there from
the Canaanite years were clay plaques of Astarte in a number of positions:
with her arms up holding snakes or vines; with her hands cupping her
breasts; or with one hand on her breast and another on her sacred
triangle; pregnant, and in trance. When the area was resettled, similar
plaques were found with little tree-trunk images of Asherah. Many of these
plaques have Hebrew names on them and were almost certainly bought and
used by Israelites for religious purposes.  
	Thus, we can tell that Astarte was worshipped widely and with an
incredible variety of personas and attributes. She is truly an adaptable

They probably never saw lioness kill for a living. In a lion pride, the lioness are the real worker for the troops. The male serves 2 functions, provide sperms for the next generation, and due to their massive size and large head of hairs, they makes excellent dummies for the lioness to help drive prey in a control direction. That is, a male lion will purposely sit in a very visible manner to a herd of prey. The prey will run in a certain direction, and into the path of the waiting lioness. You are forgetting the other job male lions have. They kill hyenas, as hyenas will attack and kill lion cubs and lionesses. The mane is to protect the throat from hyena bites (tigers don't fight hyenas and don't have manes.) In terms of killing for food, Lions tends not to try to make a meal out of hyenas, not enough meat to worth the trouble... But we are digressing here. My original point is to counter the mind set of the military establishment who cannot see to put their inate ideal of female, whose primary function is to nurture, and not to kill. My take on this is that female soldier today are just as likely to get killed, so why not afford them the opportunity to kill their opponent. Remember if you kill them first, their odd of killing you is diminished. Of course they don't eat them (though they frequently drive hyenas off kills the hyenas have made.) I saw a nature doccumentary here last year where some British had filmed lions at night through a starlight scope. The big male in the pride noticed hyenas and attacked them right away. It was really something to watch him shake the hyenas after biting them.