Friday, September 12, 2008

Ishtar was the primary deity of ancient Mesopotamia। She was the deity of all life, men, women, other deities, sexual power, pregnancy, birth, everything that was female, including war। Mesopotamia originated as a matriarchy and its goddess, Ishtar, ruled over everything including war and weapons. But as time changed, and men rose up, she lost some of her status as male gods began to surface who also bore weapons. Since she was the goddess of war, after victories, her temple of women would celebrate victory with a feast and sex. But when the matriarchy began to shift power to men, her temple became one of prostitutes.
Ishtar was said not to listen to men's pleas unless the man visited an Ishtar cult। A woman that dedicated herself to the goddess Ishtar was said to have a sacred duty। All women were required at least once in their lifetime to go to the Temple of Ishtar (usually after they were married). They were to sit in the temple until a stranger came and threw a piece of silver in her lap. Then she was to leave the temple and have sex with the stranger, after which she could return home. She was not allowed to refuse the first stranger. Unfortunately, some of the less attractive women remained in the temple for years, waiting for a stranger to throw them a silver coin.
Men and women prayed to Ishtar for virility, fertility, and sexual power। Those in Babylonia that put up the most fuss over the Ishtar cults were married women, and not surprisingly, married men were the most frequent visitors। There were laws passed making it a serious offense to speak badly of the holy prostitutes. It was common to find phalluses at every temple and shrine and there were shrines of phalluses erected as well. A great temple was built for the goddess, Ishtar, who had many symbols that represented her. The animal that represented her was the lion. The symbol was the star.
Some of the first references to sexually transmitted diseases are found in Ancient Babylonia, mainly gonnorhea and syphillis। These diseases were said to be caused by the gods and their mismatches which were shown in the sky by the crab and the scorpion। The chancre sore from syphillis was said to literally be a crab bite. In King Hammurabi's Codes, there is a sexual warning to those who oppose him, that " evil disease, a dangerous sore which cannot be cured, which the physicians cannot diagnose, which he cannot allay with bandages, and which like the bit of death cannot be removed; and that he, until he brings his life to an end, may lament the loss of his vigor...curse him, his seed, his land, his army, his people and his troops with an evil curse."
Thus, it is also very possible that since Ishtar was regarded as a goddess of love and war, that she was also believed to cast sexually transmitted diseases to the enemies of those that worshipped her। Such a statement from a powerful king may have effected how the enemies of Ancient Babylonia regarded the great state and its sexuality. In opposing Hammurabi, those peoples also had to oppose the goddess Ishtar and the Babylonian ideas of sexual openness.