Category: Essays

You are What You Read

Screen Shot 2019-07-31 at 11.07.12 AMYou are What You Read
By Nance Broderzen ©June 13, 2008

A Costa Rican artist, Guillermo Vargas, starved a dog to death
in a gallery in Nicaragua.
“You are what you read,” he glued in wide kibble letters
on the wall behind the dog,
the dog chained in the middle of the gallery,
a bowl of kibble just out of his reach

Vargas named the dog, Natividad,
after a man in recent headlines, killed by guard dogs.
Natividad the dog, diseased and starving
died after just one day of display.

Vargas’ ploy blasted all over the globe
via internet. Millions upon millions signing petitions
denouncing him. “He is no artist. He should not be
allowed to ever display again!”

I actually rolled my eyes and refused to give it any attention
at first, didn’t want to give Vargas a morsel,
but he was everywhere, kept coming into my inbox
or front paging my favorite blogs,
so I signed, with the herd
2 million, 551 thousand, 215 to-date, on the petition I signed;
there are more petitions.

I signed, thinking, “Vargas should be chained in a gallery
and starved to death, himself!
This installation is not worthy of anything.”
Gut, heart response,
immediate response.

I knew nothing of dogs in Costa Rica.
Nothing of dogs in Nicaragua.
As I began to watch petition signatures multiply,
a haunting grew in my gut;
Had I betrayed a brother artist, Vargas?
I don’t know anything about his world!
So I spent about 23 hours studying the status of dogs
in Costa Rica, the U.S., and Nicaragua.

Costa Ricans love animals so much
they refuse to follow the U.S. Model
of what they call “Kill Shelters.”
Three to four-million dogs and cats, half who go in,
are euthanized in the U.S. shelters annually.
Costa Rica pushes sterilization.
Several altruistic teams are dedicated and seeing some results
but where dog populations drop, cat populations grow wild,
like in Los Angeles,
with stray dogs all but eliminated since the 80s,
I had to trap 15 cats in the 90s, who were multiplying under
the building I managed, and drive them
one by one, to the “kill shelter.”
Believe me—a heart wrenching task.

In Nicaragua, they use poisoning or club dogs to death,
no laws protecting animals,
four dogs to every human in some neighborhoods.
Say fifty humans live on your city block;
imagine 200 dogs running wild and free
starving, diseased,
adults paying emaciated children to catch emaciated wild dogs,
adults clubbing them to death on street corners.
Here in the U.S., they euthanize behind closed doors,
in Costa Rica they have more vets per capita than any other nation
with dreams to gain control by sterilization alone.

And I think of this artist, Vargas, from Costa Rica
he goes to Nicaragua where they
poison and club dogs daily,
where they starve guard-dogs half to death to make them meaner.
Vargas hires some experienced kids to catch a very sick one,
and chains the dog, too sick to eat anyway
just out of reach of food,
writes, “you are what you read,” in kibble on the wall.

We are food.
The man Natividad was attacked by dogs as prey.
We are food.
We can feed the poor, the feral.
No one attempted to feed Natividad the dog;
no visitor stepped forward
It takes longer than a day to starve to death
but Natividad died a day later.

And we, by the millions condemn the artist, the messenger,
ignore the message; ignore the millions of dogs euthanized
in the “Kill Shelters” of the West,
the millions of dogs starving in Nicaragua;

I paraphrase from a U.S. field worker writing of Nicaragua:

“unbelievably skinny with ribs and hipbones sticking out, almost grotesquely in some cases…no owners …no families…no particular people to take care of them. None receive veterinary care of any kind…they scavenge food wherever they can…in garbage, from the forest…fruits, insects, and carrion…”

It takes time to peek under the rug of reality—
took me twenty-three hours to see that Natividad, the dog,
died on the cross at that Nicaraguan gallery
for all the feral dogs and cats of the world;
All the millions hidden and dying
in the “kill shelters” of the Western world,
all starving, diseased, then poisoned and clubbed dogs
dying in the third world,
and for the millions of litters born every day into
a humanized civilization where they suffer and starve,
where natural predators who keep the balance
are mostly endangered, mostly destroyed.

I was part of the herd when I signed,
but now I am wolf or wild-cat
in danger of human rage against me,
I fear what they’ll do to me, think of me
as I praise the artist the herd abhors,
fear almost to the point of censoring myself from writing that I
praise Natividad the martyr, the savior of cats and dogs,
praise Vargas, whether Judas or God,
for trying to show the truth to the Art patronizing elite
of the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.
They are food, we are food; we the well-fed,
signing petitions that critique esthetics,
while holding our kibble just out of reach.

On the Term “God” being Flawed

HennerBlueTonesCreation(c) Nance Broderzen

My haiku yesterday:

  • If God is a man
  • and Goddess a woman the
  • term God is flawed

received the comment, “Ouch!” from a man in The Haiku Room, even though this haiku was not meant to cut men in any way, shape, or form.  I had a feeling it might hurt.  However, rather than feeding a matriarchal take-over, this haiku is simply questioning the patriarchal values held within the term God, and suggesting that as long as we continue to use this term, we are implying a patriarchal organization of the universe, which is naive to assume.

The Universe is very balanced.  The patriarchy is not.  Using the term God prevents equality from happening at very deep subconscious levels, and continues the battle of the sexes long past the time when an equalitarian worldview could take shape.

I’m glad this haiku guy was brave enough to comment his ouch. It illustrates well how deeply personal the transformation of human consciousness is seen and felt by many, when it needs to be seen as liberating for both men and women, and balancing for both genders as well.  The equalitarian transformation lets both genders develop their inner suppressed male or female parts, lets them enjoy their whole selves.

An equalitarian worldview will balance the energies of our humanity.  A balanced humanity will implicitly care for the epidermis of Earth for future generations. And with the gross acceleration of global warming and mass species extinction, we need this immediately.

The term God is such an easy word to use–to pray to, or ponder philosophically. However, we need to see that whenever this word is used, it feeds the patriarchal status quo and keeps the hierarchies of herding culture, of rape culture in place. Even when we say God is a woman! Because God is not a human form. Humans are merely animals evolved to heightened forms of communication. God, The Great Creator, The Intelligence of the Universe is much more than that.

Ha! I just used the word, God, and I’ve inadvertently inserted a male gender connotation in the higher intelligence that I ponder. By my god-thumping faux pas, we see quite clearly that the term is embedded in patriarchal culture, easily flies off the tongue, and will remain until we replace it with a new term which includes both genders or is gender-neutral. Until then, this male-connotative Supreme Being will feed the patriarchy indefinitely, and balancing the planet will continue to elude us.

Oh, the corporation gagged and blindfolded public of our time…

aWiseMonkeys_4790(c) Nance Broderzen – background images in collage art (c) Jo-Anne McArthur / We Animals /Djurattsalliansen / Essere Animali

Idaho now has an Ag-gag bill. A bill signed into law that allows the animal-food industry to completely self-regulate.  The employee doesn’t have the right to tell what’s going on behind closed doors. The consumer doesn’t have the right to know. The people of Idaho now join the people of Utah, Missouri, and Iowa in demanding blindfolds, applauding secret corporate activities, and endorsing a covert and hidden hell, because they don’t want to know it’s there.

In fact, most people don’t want to know the horrors behind their food. They cringe when animal rights activists post footage of what really happens to the animals that are enslaved in stench drenched, torturous restraints and/or extremely crowded conditions. Turn a blind eye when they see animals bashed around by stressed and angry thugs preparing to drain blood, slice, and dismember these beings still struggling to free themselves and flee. Blindfolded pre-vegans just want meat and dairy wrapped in nice packages, want delicate morsels cooked for their palate or sliced for their wine and cheese parties, and want to pretend it came from animals lounging on beautiful fields of long grass swaying in the wind.

A pre-vegan friend of mine insists that she only eats pastured meat. Buys from purveyors who know the farms and the farmers.  She doesn’t eat out much, can’t eat wheat and soy because of a health condition, and insists that if “more people searched out truly pastured meat there would be way less cruelty committed against these animals.”

I must say that while it is nice to boycott factory farms, the world population has doubled in the past 45 years and is expected to double again by 2055.   One-hundred-fifty acres of rain-forest is cut down every minute, mostly to provide graze-land to feed us wildly breeding humans our beloved meat.  Wars in 2055 will be global over water. The largest user of fresh water is livestock. While as I write, our fields lay barren in central California because of drought.

One pound of beef requires an input of approximately 2500 gallons of water.  A pound of soy requires 250 gallons of water.  A pound of wheat only 25 gallons.  Most crops are currently grown as animal feed. Double the human population, feed them all a basic omnivore diet and envision that future. Even if we did away with animal torture on factory farms, how would we create enough grass fed beef for humans if we’re already cutting down 150 acres of rainforest a day to feed the current population, especially with the increasing demand for meat as Third World Countries industrialize?

While most people become healthier and thinner on a vegan diet, and a whole-food plant based diet can reverse a number of diseases, I understand my friend’s situation. I felt trapped in an omnivore’s dilemma myself for several years, because of my allergy to soy.  I finally happened on a few serendipitous lectures five years ago, which taught me that there’s protein in just about all plant-foods. Elephants and horses create all their muscles from grass.  I’ve been vegan ever since.

I’ve learned, we need smart nutritionists that help create plant-food diets for every body type and health condition, and we need a medical industrial complex that supports this.  The population of vegans in the US  is expected to reach critical mass in 2015 (10% of the population) which means it’s expected to jump rapidly to much greater percentages from there.

This gives me hope for future generations, although very slow in coming in this pharmaceutical industrial complex controlled world. Yet, I definitely see a vegan humanity in our future as more people leave their carnist ways behind, venture into this new way of sustaining water, of sustaining the Earth, of sustaining human, animal and plant life by learning to eat plant-based meals, and developing them far beyond our wildest dreams.

Story of the Snake Goddess, Draco


(c) Nance Broderzen

I have a pet royal python named Draco.  He is a symbol of the Divine Feminine, which I wear around town to parties, art events, when I perform spoken word/poetry, any place that lets me to share the Goddess’s story and energy with the world to prove that snakes can be elegant, loving, and cuddly creatures.  The species name, royal python, is said to come from the days when leaders in Africa, primarily women, e.g., Cleopatra, wore this breed of python live around their wrists and bodies as a symbol of the great goddess’s power.

My inspiration for my companion animal’s name is presented at length, in the awesome essay by Lanna Rings, which follows below.

Ring writes of Draco’s long slow change in human perception, from The Great Serpent or Snake Goddess into an evil dragon, and eventually into Satan.  The story is crucial to our comprehension of the root of our current patriarchal system.

As the serpent was demonized by the Judeo/Christian/Muslim religions so too were women, the Goddess, and all we represent symbolically:

  • intuitive knowing
  • power and strength from within
  • connection to Divine Source from within
  • gentle kindness
  • the wisdom to act from an inner divine place
  • partnership and connection with community
  • honoring the whole and seeing the unity of all

These qualities were once a part of every man and woman.

But for a few thousand years men and women alike have been obeying the patriarchal church and state, commanded internally and externally by a lopsided love of power and control coupled with disrespect for intuition, internal wisdom, connection, community and unity.

This largely unquestioned patriarchal rule, which keeps the Goddess locked in the cellar and tied to a chair with duct tape across her mouth, is destroying the survival of our children’s grandchildren. Destroying the ecosystems on Earth that we require to survive.

But the tide is turning. More and more of us are finally questioning. It’s time to break into the cellar and free the Divine Feminine so she can stand eye to eye, equal to the dominating masculine energies and bring them back to balance!

I will explore this more and more in my Goddess Musings, but today I present you with Draco, the great Goddess’ story.  A story deeply personal to me, as it led me to my beautiful python’s name.


Nance Broderzen



“Draco, the Dragon

Most Awesome Constellation

by Lana Rings

Draco, in various positions during a twenty-four hour period

So who was this Draco, this constellation constantly visible, revolving around itself every clear night of the year, sometimes upside down, sometimes right side up, sometimes on its side, just like the wheel of fortune?

There are several stories about the constellation Draco. One of the most recent stories seems to be the Olympian Greek story, the story that has been frozen in time for us. If you look up the story in an atlas of constellations, you might find the following tale.

Athena, cousin to the Minoan snake goddess, whose sacred animals are the wise old owl and the wise old snake, also Roman Minerva, patroness of physicians, is said to have been in battle with the giants, and they threw a dragon at her, but she tossed it up into the sky, where it landed at the hub of the universe.

Why would such a serpent be given such a prominent place in the religious stories of the time? Perhaps this is a later, re-written version of other tales.

There are other stories about Draco. Some say that it may be the Python that was slain by Apollo. But why, then, isn’t Apollo up there in place of the Python? Is the sky supposed to be the graveyard of the Python killed by Apollo? Apollo killed the Python at Delphi and took over the oracle that had belonged to Gaia, or Mother Earth. He kept the priestesses on, for never does one hear of priests being at the Oracle prophesying and giving political or religious advice. Why would Apollo not be up there instead of the Python? Or perhaps this is a later, re-written version of other tales.

Perhaps an earlier tale is that of the Hesperides. Draco may be Ladon, the dragon that guarded the apple tree in the paradisal Garden of the Hesperides. Actually, he guarded the Goddess Hera’s apples in that garden. What is interesting is that the elements of the Adam and Eve myth are here for all to see: garden, apple tree, woman, and serpent. But the story is different. Hera was not evil Eve giving death to the world by eating apples. The tree, too, is according to Johnson the tree of life as well, not a forbideen tree, as it was in the Adam and Eve story; and Hera was the divinity and Ladon her dragon.

The Hesperides were names after Hera, “who became at times Hespera, the evening star [which is also Innana, Ishtar, Venus]. The garden lies at the edge of the Western Ocean” (Johnson, 153) and by some was thought to be the place humans went after death. “Three beautiful, sweetly singing maidens, daughters of Ladon, the never-sleeping dragon, all guard the golden apples of love and fruitfulness” (153). Note that the dragon is “never-sleeping,” as is the dragon in the sky, Draco. Now, in this story, Ladon is male.

Other tales, even older, link Draco with the serpent goddess herself, Tiamat. Perhaps Hera and the snake were separated versions of the older serpent Goddess. Tiamat with Apsu (female and male) were creators of the universe, but Tiamat was first. She got into a fight provoked by others, and was slain by her successors, Marduk and a later God. She was then divided up into two pieces, the heavens and the earth, and Marduk reigned supreme. If she was so bad, why did she have such a prominent place in the heavens?

Ultimately, the dragon was probably female and good and wise. Some of her vestiges remained in Crete until its demise through invasions and the great tidal waves from the enormous volcanic eruption of present day Santorini (in myth the ancient lost continent of Atlantis). This eruption occurred around 1500 B.C.E. But on Crete were found images of the snake goddess perhaps: a woman holding a snake in each hand, an owl sitting on her head. And she is Athena’s predecessor, Athena of the owl and the snake. (See Serpent Holder.)

Archeology has unearthed some important information which may account for Draco. In Crete and earlier in Europe and the Middle East, there were images of snakes, goddesses/women, snake goddesses/women, snakes as goddess/woman, images half snake, half woman throughout many years of prehistory. The snake evidently was sacred for thousands of years before Marduk and Apollo and Hercules and others came along and destroyed it. It was sacred for its wisdom and its representation of life and death themselves. It was connected to woman, perhaps the great mother of the universe, the divine ancestress from whom we all came, the original “Eve.” It may well be that our Draco in the sky is indeed this female serpent creatrix life-giver, life-taker of the ancient world. She would have been important enough for the celestial heavens to revolve around. She would have revolved in a counterclockwise, female direction. She would have been eternal, never-sleeping, vigilant life-giver, life-taker, from whom we all come and to whom we all return–everything that exists, from rocks to humans to animals and plants, sun, moon, stars. Draco revolved around itself around 2000 to 3000 B.C.E., when the Goddess/woman and snakes were still linked. It is probable, then that Draco is indeed some form of this great, ancient Goddess, for she had existed years prior to 3000 B.C.E., but she had not yet been destroyed by this time, as she later was in the Marduk epic (circa 2000 B.C.E.?), and in the Greek stories (first millenium B.C.E.).

Indeed, in Egypt she was once called the Raging Mother, and (at another time) the great Goddess Isis, Queen of the Heavens. In Babylon she was not only Tiamat, but it is said Hea/Hoa, two names linking serpent, teacher, wisdom, and–woman! In Chaldea she was supposedly bird and reptile, which would make her very ancient, for the bird-snake representation of Goddess/woman may an old, old image of sacredness from the Paleolithic.

When exactly Draco began changing from the great serpent or snake Goddess into an evil dragon is not precisely known. In fact, it probably took hundreds of years for it to change. Around 3000 B.C.E. it probably was still the sacred Goddess/woman. By Greek times there are only possible vestiges of that. The tale that comes closest is the story of Ladon and the Hesperides. By the time of the Apollo and Hercules stories, it is an evil creature that must be destroyed.

Thus, what we in essence have in Draco today is a symbol of an ancient religion that was consciously destroyed by later religions that called it evil and destructive and deadly/death. By the time we get to the Old Testament, Yahweh is killing Leviathan the serpent, just as Marduk killed Tiamat the great dragon.* Yet the ancient Draco is still there, even today, still almost revolving around itself, even though the polestar has changed. You can see it in the relatively early night sky in late spring and early summer. The great constellation of Goddess and/or woman.

The Four Directions

As I said, Draco turned on its own axis, since Thuban, a star in Draco, was the polestar, or the North Pole, around 3000 B.C.E. Thus, it seemed that Draco turned around itself at the center of the universe, for the North Star is the axis mundi, the axis of the world, around which all the stars seem to rotate. That rotation had a positive connotation, as did the symbol which stood for it, although that symbol has become the embodiment of all that was bad in Europe during the Second World War: the swastika. Draco seems to turn in a counter-clockwise, or widdershins, movement. (Widdershins movement is in legend female, while clockwise movement is male.)

Draco in four positions of its positions during a 24-hour timespan

Tiamat, 9/25/93

According to Barbara Walker, Tiamat is the Mother Goddess, Diamater (Dia=goddess, Mater=mother). The word is related to diameter. Is it also related to Demeter?


Tia mat

Dia mater

De meter

Dia meter

Tia mat

Te hom

The word ‘Tiamat’ is also related to ‘Tehom,’ ‘the deep’ and Toho Bohu, according to Barbara Walker.

The words are all interrelated in meaning. Tiamat was the primordial oceanic waters from which all things came, the primordial womb, reminiscent of the oceanic waters of the womb (egg or mammalian uterus). According to the various myths the waters divided themselves or were divided to allow life to spring forth, again very reminiscent of the birth of humans, where the mother’s body is “divided” or “rent” to bring forth life from the waters of the womb. Even the eggshell is divided to bring forth new life–reptilian or fowl. The primordial waters were also red, after which the Red Sea is named, and red because that is the color of the waters of life, the blood which issues forth new life in birth. According to Walker, the word ‘diameter’ is derived from Tiamat, Goddess Mother, and to this day means splitting in half of a circle–for it is the line drawn through the middle of a circle, splitting it in half, just as the Mother was “split” in order that all creation could come from Her.

The word ‘diamater’ (God Mother) is close to the word Demeter, Goddess of the Grain in Greek religion. She is the Grain Mother, in astrology she is also Virgo, the Virgin (Virgin Mother and/or Maiden Aspect of the Triple Goddess [maiden, mother, crone]). She is the Virgo constellation in the sky. So could she be related to Tiamat, who is thought to be the Draco constellation? Could they be aspects of the same Goddess or divinity? From different times or places or aspects of her? I think so.

The Tiamat story that I have read is not the only one. Walker refers to a book from 1901 that I would like to get: Assyro-Babylonian Literature, for the books I have contain only the one story, where the primordial waters were already both female and male (Tiamat and Apsu, she the salt waters, he the fresh waters, by this time perhaps representing the liquid of both female and male in intercourse and human embryo production, and finally female birthing “waters”). However, there evidently are other versions, and in one or more Tiamat is the original divinity. So I’d like to find those stories as well. The one I have read comes from around 1000 or 900 BCE, and scholars think its origins come from around 2000 BCE.

The Tiamat story is a metaphor for birth, I do believe, for light comes from darkness, and form from chaos. She is the primordial waters, and from the darkness of the human mother’s womb, we are born into life and light. We also seem to assume form in the world after having been part of the “chaos,” i.e., primordial waters of the mother at conception and throughout pregnancy. (I also believe Armaggedon to be each human being’s death, for we all face it. I think that is where the idea of the end of the world comes, for it comes in reality with each human’s death.)

Now, Tiamat is originally the primordial waters in the story I read, but later on in the story when she has been persuaded to fight the later Gods, she has form, for she has legs, chest, head, mouth, and when Marduk kills her, he cuts her in half and creates heaven and earth from her halves. In addition, in one part she is called a “monster.” I wonder if in other stories she is called a serpent or dragon, because that is what some scholars think she was. In fact, Allen cites sources that maintain she was Draco, which would be logical. If she were the creator-destroyer divinity, around which all of creation turned, then it is quite plausible that she was indeed Draco, around which the whole of the sky turned when the polestar (north star) was a star in that constellation around 3000 BCE.

According to Johnson, Ishtar is another representation of Tiamat. She maintains they are one and the same. If that is so, that is quite interesting, for Ishtar is Aphrodite, or Venus, and is the morning and evening star. That then would link Draco, Virgo, and the planet Venus in the sky, as the same divinity, or aspects of the same divinity. In fact, Johnson goes on to state that Ishtar has both aspects to her, the creator and the destroyer, and her destroyer aspect is called AnZu (one word). Ishtar is a virgin Goddess, I believe, according to Johnson. The hymn to Ishtar is supposed to be from about 1600 BCE. It is from Mesopotamia. At this time in Crete, the Minoan Bird-Snake Goddess is being made. Are there any connections?

Certainly there are connections between Tiamat and Ishtar. According to Johnson, “[f]rom Ishtar’s divided body, the firmament and the earth were born and all living things formed. An expression of the origin of the universe from chaos, this myth also describes the seasonal fruitfulness of the land where spring flood waters (Ishtar) are dispersed by the sun and winds” (p. 230). Ishtar is the waters, similar to Tiamat, and her body was also divided to make the heavens and the earth. Further, “[a]n alternate name for Ishtar, Tiamat, has as its root the Semitic word ‘tehom’, meaning “the deep of the ocean,” which links her to the fish” (p. 230) and to the Old Testament creation story.

I believe that the idea that all that is came from primordial waters is fascinating. Modern physics and science agree to a great extent that life came from the waters, that we came about from the evolutionary of life forms from water. How our ancestors devised this belief system, I can only guess, but my guess goes somewhat as follows:

Our ancestors saw, better and more often than we, exactly how human beings and other animals come into this life: people from the bodies of our mothers, accompanied by blood and water; mammals the same way; snakes and birds from eggs which begin as fluid. And they probably extrapolated from that knowledge their ideas of how all of life and the earth began–through birth out of blood waters. They would have seen birth happening so often. We see it almost never. If we who are city dwellers do see it, it is often of cats or on TV or occasionally in the human birthing rooms. Most of us have never seen someone being born. Very few humans in our culture witness birth very often. But our ancestors did. And they probably also used any intuitive knowledge they had about their origins, for they were really quite close to what science believes, although at the same time quite different, for science often sees matter as “dumb,” whereas they knew quite the reverse, for intelligence cannot come from dumbness. It’s illogical. (And we downplay intuition and have underdeveloped our own. Only successful businessmen can say they followed their “gut feeling.” But they never call it intuition, which is what it is.)

So our ancestors perceived the divinities originally as primordial waters, as darkness, as “chaos,” but not with the negative ring it has today. And indeed form does arise out of chaos and return to it. Interesting.

In the Hymn to Ishtar, written about 1600 BCE (in Johnson), it is clear that she is the planet Venus (the morning and evening star). In reality, the planet Venus is the bright morning star for a long number of days, then it is the bright evening star for a long number of days. It alternates, even today. It is now the morning star, September, 1993. You can see it in the early morning not too far from Orion and the Twins (Gemini), and it is indeed the last star to fade in the early morning light. Here is the Hymn to Ishtar:

Praise the Goddess, the most awesome of the Goddesses.

Let one revere the mistress of the peoples, the greatest of the Igigi. (Igigi=great Gods of heaven)

Praise Ishtar, the most awesome of the Goddesses.

Let one revere the queen of women, the greatest of the Igigi.

(from an Akkadian hymn to Ishtar, translated by Ferris J. Stephens)

She is clothed with pleasure and love.
She is laden with vitality, charm,
and voluptuousness.
Ishtar is clothed with pleasure and love.
She is laden with vitality, charm,
and voluptuousness.
In lips she is sweet; life is in her mouth.
At her appearance rejoicing becomes full.
She is glorious; veils are thrown over her head.
Her figure is beautiful; her eyes are brilliant.
The goddess – with her there is counsel.
The fate of everything she holds in her hand.
At her glance there is created joy,
power, magnificence, the protecting deity and guardian spirit.
She dwells in, she pays heed to compassion and
Besides, agreeableness she truly possesses.
Be it slave, unattached girl, or mother, she
preserves (her).
One calls on her; among women one names her name.
Who – to her greatness who can be equal?
Strong, exalted, splendid are her decrees.
Ishtar – to her greatness who can be equal?
Strong, exalted, splendid are her decrees.
She is sought after among the gods;
extraordinary is her station.
Respected is her word; it is supreme over them.
Ishtar among the gods, extraordinary is her station.
Respected is her word; it is supreme over them.

Note how wonderful this Goddess is. She is described as most awesome, greatest of the Gods. She embodies pleasure, love, vitality, charm, voluptuousness, joy, power, magnificence, compassion, friendliness, agreeableness, intelligence, cleverness, wisdom, greatness, life. She is sweet, rejoicing, glorious, beautiful, brilliant, her word is respected, powerful, and supreme; her decrees strong, exalted, and splendid. She also holds the fate of everything in her hand. She gives counsel. She protects, guards, and preserves.

There is nothing negative about her. The only negative idea that creeps in comes from the king wanting her to grant him all earthly power: “She has decided to attach [all peoples] to his yoke.” This is not the same feeling one gets from the rest of the hymn which praises her. Even though she is being praised so that the king may have power and long life, she is praised for only positive things at this point. She is not praised for her combativeness, for her raising some people above others. All the praise that is given her reflects a philosophy of life that is affirming of this life. The physical, as well as the intellectual and emotional, aspects of life are all affirmed. There is no negation of this life at all. In fact, there is only affirmation of all that is. At this point, this Goddess is still life-affirming. Everything about life is embodied positively in this Goddess: from pleasure and love and voluptuousness to vitality and charm and beauty and power and protection and compassion and friendliness. What a joyous way of approaching life and the divine!! Ishtar!



* Consider the many myths where the deity or a great male is killing the serpent (gleaned from Stone, 67-68):


..>..> ..> ..>..>..> God Killing the Serpent/Snakes

(Later Religions Killing Off Earlier Ones?

Since Woman/Goddess/Snake had been connected and the male God killed the snake/serpent?)


God or, later, Man

Serpent He Destroys

Hittite Anatolia

Storm God

Dragon Illuyankas


Indra, Lord of the Mountains

Goddess Danu & son Vrtra

Northern Canaan

Baal (Storm God of Mt. Saphon & brother/consort of Goddess Anath)

Serpent Lotan or Lawtan (in Canaanite Lat means Goddess)

Babylon (Kassite control?)


Goddess Tiamat Dragon

Mitannian-controlled Assyria


Goddess Dragon

European Greece


Serpent Typhon (son of Goddess Gaia)

European Greece


Serpent Python (also son of Gaia)

European Greece


Serpent Ladon who guarded the tree of Goddess Hera

Hebrew areas of Middle East (Canaan, etc.)

Yahweh (Jehovah)

Serpent Leviathan (another Canaanite name for Lotan)


St. George



St. Patrick


See also the list of Woman/Goddess with or as Snake/Serpent in Serpent Holder chapter.”

(sourced from