In ancient Mesopotamian times, harvest season was the time of worship for Dumuzi (the shepherd god) who represent this time of the year. Later, he would also become a god of the underworld when he married the goddess Ishtar. In this article, you will learn more about this god, his wife, and other Mesopotamian characters they have come in contact with.
One day, Ishtar wished to visit her sister Ereshkigal, who was queen of the underworld. Whoever traveled to the underworld was not allowed to leave, and this consequence was also bestowed upon the gods as well. Ishtar entered through the seven gates that led to the underworld and found she was unable to leave. Soon, the other gods grew worried when they found that Ishtar did not return.
It was the god of wisdom (Ea), who tricked her sister into returning Ishtar to life with the provision that another should take her place in the afterlife. Ishtar chose her husband, who was a shepherd at the time. Sadly, demons arrived and carried him away to spend the rest of his life in the underworld. Yet, this was not the full plan, as he was actually allowed to spend half of the year on earth. This is why he represents the yearly cycle of death and regrowth that is associated with the crops about the earth.
As the goddess of love and war, Ishtar represents the morning and evening star. She is what we would consider the planet, Venus. When depicted, she is the woman who is positioned on top of a lion, standing proudly and usually holding a collection of weapons in her hands. In many different tales, Ishtar is the center of controversy, as seen above in regards to the fate of her husband. Sometimes, Ishtar is thought the daughter of the moon god Sin. The reasoning behind this belief is that Sin’s sacred number is 30 (which stands for the typical 30-day lunar month) and Ishtar’s sacred number is 15.
When the god of the fresh waters (Ea) was tricked by Ishtar, who was able to get the god drunk so she could trick him into acquiring the “rules of the universe.” After Ea comes to the realization that he has given away these sacred words to Ishter, he tried to get them back, but Ishtar has taken the “rule” back to her city, where other means are needed for retrieval.
Ea appears as a man with a flowing beard that is always surrounded by water. His symbols are the goat-fish and a scepter bearing the head of a ram. As the god of wisdom, he is also known as the keeper of building, farming, magic, as well as arts and crafts.
The Sumerian goddess of the underworld is named Ereshkigal, who was known as a clever and sly goddess. When her sister Ishtar attempted to bypass the rule of no one entering and leaving the underworld, it was Ereshkigal who came up with the plan that she would have to take one piece of clothing before passing through each of the seven gates before she could come in her presence. This was her way of stripping Ishtar of her powers, as she knew taking off all clothes would leave her powerless in her naked form.