Ash - Astarte - Aton - Atum - AufAS - ASH
God of the desert.
A man with the head of a hawk.
As was the "Lord of Libya" and the god of the Sahara Desert. Although sometimes depicted as a companion of Set (who had the duties of the god of desert storms), As was a benign god who caused the oases to made. He also looked after those who had to travel through the desert, ensuring that they did not die of its cruel heat.
ASTARTE - ASTARTET - ASHERAH - ISHTAR
She went by many names in different cultures: Zoroastrian, Syrian, Sumerian, and Babylonian in the order of the title. These were Mother Goddesses, rulers of Waters, Stars, and the Fates. They were the principal females of creation.
Astarte means "she of the womb" in Canaanite and Hebrew. When the Hebrews turned from goddess-worship to a religion centered on the male Yahweh (or Jehovah), her name Athtarath was deliberately mis-rendered as Ashtoreth ("shameful thing") and confused with Asherah (see Monaghan). Depicted variously as a death-dealing virgin warrior, a life-giving mother, and a wanton of unbridled sexuality, her emblems were the moon and the morning and evening stars (the planet Venus). Astarte was a warrior goddess of Canaan and Syria who is a Western Semitic counterpart of the Akkadian Ishtar worshipped in Mesopotamia.
In the Egyptian pantheon to which she was officially admitted during the 18th Dynasty, her prime association is with horses and chariots. On the stela set up near the sphinx by Amenhotep II celebrating his prowess, Astarte is described as delighting in the impressive equestrian skill of the monarch when he was still only crown prince. In her iconography her aggression can be seen in the bull horns she sometimes wears as a symbol of domination. Similarly, in her Levantine homelands, Astarte is a battlefield goddess. For example, when the Peleset (Philistines) killed Saul and his three sons on Mount Gilboa, they deposited the enemy armor as spoils in the temple of "Ashtoreth".
Like Anat, she is the daughter of Re and the wife of the god Seth, but also has a relationship with the god of the sea.
From the fragmentary papyrus giving the legend of Astarte and the sea we learn that Yamm, the sea god, demanded tribute from the gods, particularly Renenutet. Her place is then taken by Astarte called, in this aspect, "daughter of Ptah". The story is lost from that point on but one assumes this liaison resulted in the goddess tempering the arrogance of Yamm.
It should also be noted that outside of Egypt, as well as being a warlike goddess, Astarte seems to have had sexual and motherhood attributes and is sometimes identified with Isis.
Asherah, Athirat ("Lady Asherah of the Sea", "she who gives birth", "wet-nurse of the gods") (Canaanite and Hebrew). Her name seems to come from a root meaning "straight," perhaps signifying both moral rectitude and the upright trees or pieces of wood in which her essence was believed to dwell. In homes, she was represented by a simple, woman-shaped clay figurine with, instead of legs, a tapered base which was inserted in the floor of the home.
She was also depicted as a naked, curly-haired goddess standing on her sacred lion and holding lilies and serpents in upraised hands. According to one source, she was "the force of life, experienced as benevolent and enduring, found in flocks of cattle and groves of trees, evoked in childbirth and in planting time."
She was also called Elat ("Goddess"). Her dying-god consort may have been Yahweh (see Patai). After the shift among the Hebrews to the worship of the male Yahweh, a centuries-long campaign to stamp out her worship began, in which she was deliberately confused with the more wantonly sexual Astarte.
A later, Babylonian form of the Sumerian Inanna, but also identified with Asherah and Astarte. Like Inanna, she loved a dying and reborn vegetation god (Tammuz), whom she descended into the underworld in rescue of after his death. There, she supplicates herself before the queen of the Underworld, Erishkegal (no doubt, the death form of herself). Her emblems were the moon and the morning and evening stars (the planet Venus).
Ishtar ("light-giving queen of heaven") (Babylonian) -
Ishtar, also known as Htar (or Inanna in Sumerian mythology), the name of the chief goddess of Babylonia and Assyria, the counterpart of the Phoenician Astarte. The meaning of the name is not known, though it is possible that the underlying stem is the same as that of Assur, which would thus make her the "leading one" or "chief." At all events it is now generally recognized that the name is Semitic in its origin. Where the name originated is likewise uncertain, but the indications point to Erech where we find the worship of a great mother goddess independent of any association with a male counterpart flourishing in the oldest period of Babylonian history. She appears under various names, among which are Nana, Innanna, Nina and Anunit.
As early as the days of Khammurabi we find these various names which represented originally different goddesses, though all manifest as the chief trait the life-giving power united in Ishtar. Even when the older names are employed it is always the great mother-goddess who is meant. Ishtar is the one goddess in the pantheon who retains her independent position despite and throughout all changes that the Babylonian-Assyrian religion undergoes. Even when Ishtar is viewed as the consort of some chief - of Marduk occasionally in the south, of Assur more frequently in the north - the consciousness that she has a personality of her own apart from this association is never lost sight of.
With Adbeel may be identified Idibi'il (-ba'il) a tribe, employed by Tiglath-Pileser IV. (‘l33 B.c.) to watch the frontier of Musri (Sinaitic peninsula or Northern Arabia). This is suggested by the fact that Ashurbanipal (7th century) mentions as the name of their deity Atar-Samain (i.e. "Ishtar of the heavens").
We may reasonably assume that the analogy drawn from the process of reproduction among men and animals led to the conception of a female deity presiding over the life of the universe. The extension of the scope of this goddess to life in general - to the growth of plants and trees from the fructifying seed - was a natural outcome of a fundamental idea; and so, whether we turn to incantations or hymns, in myths and in epics, in votive inscriptions and in historical annals, Ishtar is celebrated and invoked as the great mother, as the mistress of lands, as clothed in splendor and power - one might almost say as the personification of life itself.
But there are two aspects to this goddess of life. She brings forth, she fertilizes the fields, she clothes nature in joy and gladness, but she also withdraws her favors and when she does so the fields wither, and men and animals cease to reproduce. In place of life, barrenness and death ensue. She is thus also a grim goddess, at once cruel and destructive. We can, therefore, understand that she was also invoked as a goddess of war and battles and of the chase; and more particularly among the warlike Assyrians she assumes this aspect.
Before the battle she appears to the army, clad in battle array and armed with bow and arrow. In myths symbolizing the change of seasons she is portrayed in this double character, as the life-giving and the life-depriving power. The most noteworthy of these myths describes her as passing through seven gates into the nether world.
At each gate some of her clothing and her ornaments are removed until at the last gate she is entirely naked. While she remains in the nether world as a prisoner - whether voluntary or involuntary it is hard to say - all fertility ceases on Earth, but the time comes when she again returns to Earth, and as she passes each gate the watchman restores to her what she had left there until she is again clad in her full splendor, to the joy of mankind and of all nature.
Closely allied with this myth and personifying another view of the change of seasons is the story of Ishtar's love for her son and consort Tammuz - symbolizing the spring time - but as midsummer approaches her husband is slain and, according to one version, it is for the purpose of saving Tammuz from the clutches of the goddess of the nether world that she enters upon her journey to that region.
She is a life-death-rebirth deity.
In all the great centres Ishtar had her temples, bearing such names as E-anna, "heavenly house," in Erech; E-makh, "great house," in Babylon; E-mash-mash, "house of offerings," in Nineveh. Of the details of her cult we as yet know little, but there is no evidence that there were obscene rites connected with it, though there may have been certain mysteries introduced at certain centres which might easily impress the uninitiated as having obscene aspects. She was served by priestesses as well as by priests, and it would appear that the votaries of Ishtar were in all cases virgins who, as long as they remained in the service of Ishtar, were not permitted to marry.
In the astral-theological system, Ishtar becomes the planet Venus, and the double aspect of the goddess is made to correspond to the strikingly different phases of Venus in the summer and winter seasons. On monuments and seal-cylinders she appears frequently with how and arrow, though also simply clad in long robes with a crown on her head and an eight-rayed star as her symbol.
Statuettes have been found in large numbers representing her as naked with her arms folded across her breast or holding a child. The art thus reflects the popular conceptions formed of the goddess. Together with Sin, the Moon god, and Shamash, the Sun god, she is the third figure in a triad personifying the three great forces of nature - Moon, Sun and Earth, as the life-force. The doctrine involved illustrate, the tendency of the Babylonian priests to centralize the manifestations of divine power in the universe, just as the triad Anu, Bel and ha - the heavens, the earth and the watery deep - form another illustration of this same tendency.
Naturally, as a member of a triad, Ishtar is dissociated from any local limitations, and similarly as the planet Venus - a conception which is essentially a product of theological speculation - no though of any particular locality for her cult is present. It is because the cult, like that of Sin and Shamash, is spread over al Babylonia and Assyria, that she becomes available for purposes of theological speculation.
ATON - ATEN
Lord of Heaven, Lord of Earth
An unseen Sun God linked to the Pharaoh Akhenaten
who believed in monotheism and a god of Light. Inscriptions state that the god had no physical image, but it was represented as a solar disk projecting many downward rays that ended as human hands, sometimes the god is depicted holding an ankh, the symbol of eternal life.
ATUM - (Tem, Temu, Tum, Atem)
In preparation for sunrise, the god Atum holds a winged serpent who is about to devour ten stars symbolizing the ten hours of the night that have elapsed. The sun god's boat in the middle row now bears a red sun disk on its bow. It is preceded by twelve men carrying the protective serpent believed to encircle the world. The semicircular shapes in the bottom row are pits into which knife-wielding goddesses have tossed the dismembered bodies of the sun god's enemies. This gruesome punishment was thought to explain the blood-red color of the rising sun.
Atum was one of the most ancient gods in Egypt and was part of the Heliopolitan cosmology. Originally an earth god, he became associated with Re, the sun god. Specifically, he was considered to be the setting sun. In later times he became associated with Ptah and eventually Osiris.
According to the priests of Heliopolis, Atum was the first being to emerge from the waters of Nun at the time of creation. Originally, he was a serpent in Nun and will return to that form at the end of time. However, Atum was depicted in art as a man wearing the Double Crown of Upper and Lower Egypt. As such, he is the first living man god conceived of by the ancient Egyptians. Until then, their gods were all forms of animals.
Following his self-creation from Nun, Atum created his children Shu and Tefnut by masturbating. This may seem impossible but Atum was a bisexual god. He embodied both the male and female aspects of life. Therefore, his semen contained all that was necessary to create new life and deities. The Egyptians called Atum "Great He-She" and his name meant "the complete one."
Later myths said that his children were products of his relationship with his shadow, or with the goddess Iusaaset.