Tuesday, March 8, 2011
Those Canaanite Women
Violent Goddess : Anat in the Ras Shamra Texts
Arvid S. Kapelrud, Universitetsforlaget; 1 edition (February 1969
Everything you ever thought about Middle Eastern women as being meek, submissive and totally obediant to their male counter parts you can just throw into the trash. It is ain't real. Middle Eastern women can be tough, in charge and down right feisty. They are fighters, sometime even more so than the males.
Anat was the Goddess of love and war in the Canaanite pantheon. She is usually partnered up with Baal Hadad, the god of rain and fertility. The Violent Goddess although dated is informative, readable and interesting.
The Goddess Anat is analyzed and compared to a variety of different Goddesses who stood for war and love in the Middle East. Ishtar, Isis,and Inanna are compared to her and there are several characteristics in common. Yet none is as violoent, passionate and warlike as Anat. Anat was worshipped all the way from Anatolia to Egypt. Her worship never really spread into Mesopoatamia but Ishtar the Assyrian Goddess of love and War became increasingly like her.
It is hard to seperate the different Goddeses of the acannaite pantheon because so many times the lines between them are blurred. Ashera was the mother Goddess of all life, Ashtoret was another Goddess of love and war and often confused with Anat. Then there was Anat. All three had seperate identities. The Old Testament tends to blend them due to a variety of reasons.
THe author investigates the origins of Anat and after exhausting all possiblilities comes to the conclusion that Anat was orf Amorite origin. Her worship did not have extensive inroads into southern Canaan. Ashtoret and Anat were incorporated into the Egyptian pantheon as protectors of the Pharoah and Rah the sun god.
Anat is called the etrernal virgin. She is a young lady who is filled passion. She is no virgin in our sense of the word. But rather a young woman of marriageable age. It could also be that her virginity gets renewed as the yearly cycle progresses.
A second investigation was launched by the author into her exact relation with Baal. She is refered to as both his sister and his mate. In one scenario they do copulate and produce a child. The author deduces that for the most part they are husband and wife.
It should be realized that Baal was not the baddest of warriors. His wife was the warrior of the family. She represent the will of Baal by fighting his battle and delivering messages for him. They fight a series of Gods including Yam ,the sea god , and Mot , lord of the underworld. Baal does the fighting for sure but without the help of Anat he would be a goner. Anat muzzles dragon and kills Mot herself. She is a goddess who takes the initiative and is determined to get what she wants. In a nutshell she is impetuous.
In the Aquat story she kills the son of the king Danel in order to get a bow. Aquat refused to give it to her, so she had Yatpan her loyal soldier kill him. She does anything to get what she wants. She is an advocate for Baal, demanding that Ilu giove permission for Baal to build his castle and Mount Sapon. She threatens to kill Ilu and lay him to waste. Ilu relents as does Ashira. They are afraid of her and know her violent nature. When her palace is attacked she goes out and fights without a thought and then uses the body parts of her slain foes to adorn herself like jewelry. She even washes in their blood. Later she puts on makeup and acts as if nothing ever happened.
She is an initator and she is domineering. Ashera maybe the figure head but Anat is in charge and running things. Even when Ilu initiates the mourning for Baal and the Earth becomes unfertile it is Anat who takes the active role of finding Baal's body and having Shapsu the sun goddes resurrecting him. After the Baal is resurrected the two mate and give birth to a cow.
This book is a great archaeological read. THe Canaanite deities have a lot to teach us. For women she is a great role model because Anat is assertive, brave and always ready for a fight. Funny I think some men could learn from her.
Some of my Wiccan friends can learn from her as well. The horned God descend to the world of the dead every winter and is brought to life again in the spring. Baal is the Middle Eastern Horned God and Anat is the goddess who helps resurrect and then mates with him. It was all part of the feertitlity cycle in the middle east. But more importatntly both are shape changer. At times they are bovin creatures at other times human. Anat will appear as a bird and at other times she is like a fairy that sprouts wings and is ready to fly. It is quite imaginable that Anat can be invoked from courage and strength in a confrontation or for help in matters of love and fertitity.
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