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[Opinion] Ishtar, the descent myth, astronomy

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pixel_fortune

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Ishtar is the planet Venus, which is currently in its morning star phase, but will disappear around mid-May ("descend into the underworld") and reappear in the west as the evening star early July

The myth of Inanna's Descent Into the Underworld reflects this time and is often used as the basis for initiation ceremonies, since she dies and is revived.

Astronomically though, what's happening, is a Venus/Sun conjunction. As she gets closer to the sun, her light melts into its light and you can't see her.

I think that's interesting - this descent and initiation myth is fundamentally a solar event

(Venus is always quite close to the sun - you only see her in the hour or so before dawn (morning star phase) or after sunset (Evening star phase) because that's the window between the sun rising/setting and Venus rising/setting, so it's dark enough to see stars but she's still above the horizon)
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An aside about Inanna's Descent: people like Frazer of the Golden Bough, and 2nd Wave feminism wanted to syncretise everything and say all deities were the same,* so this myth often gets presented as another version of Persephone, or a Jesus sacrifice or whatever, but it's not.

Inanna goes into the underworld to usurp Ereshkigal's throne and is immediately killed for her hubris. Enki brings her back to life, but only after Inanna's vizier asks several other deities for help, who are like "no way, she had it coming". She doesn't rescue her husband; she hands him over to demons to be imprisoned in the underworld in her place. AFTER refusing to hand over her beautician. I love this story and hate that it gets made generic.

*Also in their defence because tablets showing the full story hadn't been found yet. And also myths don't have one definitive version so I'm being a bit unfair. Nevertheless.
 

Xenophon

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That I did not know: "descent" here being a solar event. Seems to put the sun in a new light as it were.

There are a few glimmerings of traditions out there that diss on the sun. The Dogon of West Africa, I gather, consider Sirius the "real" sun. Robert Temple (in "The Sirius Mystery") traces that belief back through Greece to its Egyptian roots. (Though he also seems to imply that it dates back from there into the Sub-Sahara again.) Miguel Serrano lets slip an interesting bit from whatever secret order he belonged to with his, "O Sol dorado, que refleja el sol negro...retira la sombra luminosa que veila el disco..." ("O golden sun that reflects the black sun...withdraw the glowing shadow that veils its disc..."
 

pixel_fortune

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There are a few glimmerings of traditions out there that diss on the sun.
That makes sense to me - the fact that it's Africa. in Mesopotamia, Shamash is worshipped, but he's the son of, and ranked below, the Moon god.

He's also much more of a god of justice rather than a happy lightbringinger

This is because the sun is incredibly harsh in that part of the world. You're not like "ahhh the sun is back after the long winter, what a respite", you're like "well it's 11am, time to hide from the sun for the next eight hours because it is way to fucken hot out there to do anything"

One reason I relate to Mesopotamian religion is because the climate is more like Australia than Europe's. They have a "vegetation god goes into the underworld for half the year" myth, but people tend to not realise that he goes into the underworld in SUMMER. That's when Mesopotamia was lifeless. Like in (my part of) Australia, summer is when all the grass dies and dries up and its dangerous because of fires and you have to lie around doing nothing. Animals are more active in winter and the grass is green. (Translating European pagan rites to Australian is not as simple as reversing the seasons)

So I'm wildly speculating that general vibe applies to the Dogon as well.
 

Mars

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This is an Alchemical text. In order to reunite with the sun (solar principle), you have to venture downwards into blackness and triumph. Only if you dominate instead of being dominated you are receiving the solar crown. You succeed if the feminine coagulates with you, instead of devouring you.

I could elaborate more on this and Ishtar Ama, but I will get banned for it.
 

pixel_fortune

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What do you mean when you say "it's an alchemical text"? Cause obviously the written records we have of the Inanna myth predate the earliest alchemists by a thousand years or so. Do you mean that alchemists use it as a source text? (Like in the same way that alchemists use the rose as a symbol, even though they didn't invent roses)
 

Mars

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What do you mean when you say "it's an alchemical text"? Cause obviously the written records we have of the Inanna myth predate the earliest alchemists by a thousand years or so. Do you mean that alchemists use it as a source text? (Like in the same way that alchemists use the rose as a symbol, even though they didn't invent roses)

None of this actually. Alchemy is a field.

Whatever they called themselves. Or whatever the time they live in, In the Renaissance, the Middle Ages or the Ancient times. :) Venus or Ishtar is an important aspect in the work.
 

Xenophon

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That makes sense to me - the fact that it's Africa. in Mesopotamia, Shamash is worshipped, but he's the son of, and ranked below, the Moon god.

He's also much more of a god of justice rather than a happy lightbringinger

This is because the sun is incredibly harsh in that part of the world. You're not like "ahhh the sun is back after the long winter, what a respite", you're like "well it's 11am, time to hide from the sun for the next eight hours because it is way to fucken hot out there to do anything"

One reason I relate to Mesopotamian religion is because the climate is more like Australia than Europe's. They have a "vegetation god goes into the underworld for half the year" myth, but people tend to not realise that he goes into the underworld in SUMMER. That's when Mesopotamia was lifeless. Like in (my part of) Australia, summer is when all the grass dies and dries up and its dangerous because of fires and you have to lie around doing nothing. Animals are more active in winter and the grass is green. (Translating European pagan rites to Australian is not as simple as reversing the seasons)

So I'm wildly speculating that general vibe applies to the Dogon as well.
I didn't think of that. I spent five years in Texas where summer is brutal, so I have no excuse not to notice. The Dogon are from the southern edge of the Sahara, so they fall in the nasty climate zone.

Interestingly, G.K. Chesterton has his Father Brown (the divine version of Sherlock Holmes) say words to the effect that, "The pagan sun gods have ever been bloody gods." True enough of the Middle East and Mesoamerica. Stark contrast to the "Jesus is my boyfriend" theology of later times.
 

pixel_fortune

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I didn't think of that. I spent five years in Texas where summer is brutal, so I have no excuse not to notice.
I have just remembered that this insight came from the book The Seven Names of Lamaštu by Jan Fries

But I related to it strongly so now it feels like my insight, sorry Jan!
 

Xenophon

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I have just remembered that this insight came from the book The Seven Names of Lamaštu by Jan Fries

But I related to it strongly so now it feels like my insight, sorry Jan!
Seneca said we make others' words our own by living them. Intellectual Property fundamentalists be damned.
 
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