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Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Violent War Goddess

The Goddess Anat in Ugaritic MythThe Goddess Anat in Ugaritic Myth by Neal H. Walls

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Goddesses like Anat of the Ugaritic Pantheon are bad to the bone tough and very independent. This kind of girl is threatening to most males, especially ones from the ancient middle east. I did her though. She does what she wants, rants and raves until she achieves what she wants to achieve. Most of us could use that kind of quality which is why I dig her so much.

Neal H. Walls gives us a scholarly treatment of this Ancient Ugaritic Goddess that is both thorough and readable. Not too many books qualify and enlightening and enjoyable. This book does it. Not only did I learn about the Goddess Anat but I also learned a lot about Ancient Mediterranean attitudes toward women, other goddesses and different ways of looking at Anat.

Ancient culture was primarily male dominated with women being forced to stay home and watch the family. Men did the hunting, politics and made all the major decisions. Women had no control or say. A woman who did not get married and have children was deemed threatening to the fabric of a male dominated society. Three types of Goddesses were viewed as threatening, virgin goddesses, warrior goddess and erotic goddesses. One reason , they could not be controlled.

Goddesses like Artemis lived outside the pale. Artemis lived in the woods and hunted and did masculine sorts of things. Men viewed her a threat, in fact when men made advances toward here they often died. Virgin goddesses did not give their power away rather they kept it and held onto it. Another example which Anat is compared to is the Indian Goddess , Durga, who is the virgin who fights the demon Mahissa. She never gives it up and death to the man who tries to entice her.

Anat is compared to Kali and Inana. Kali the Indian Goddess is violent, chaotic and considered an an aspect of Shakti. She fights her opponents drinks their blood and decorates her body with hands and heads of her opponent. Kali comes complete with fangs and even drinks blood like vampires. Inanna/ Ishtar is a bipolar, liminal goddess of love and war. It seems one time she was Inanna the Goddess of love but then became conflated with Ishtar the Goddess of War. Anat is most often compared to Inanna/Ishtar but the two are not the same despite similarities.

Scholarly opinion has often looked through a fertility paradigm when analyzing the Baal Ugarit Cycle. Neal H. Walls does not feel this is correct. The myths stand on their own and must be viewed in proper Ugaritic context. Neal H. Walls examines the story almost line by line and gives the reader different scholarly opinions on how to interpret the text. For the purposes of the review that subject nor in depth analysis of the stories can be provided.

Needless to say Anat has been called the virgin goddess of love an war. What exactly does virgin mean. The author gives over the interpretation that it means young teen age maiden who is ready for marriage. At times Anat is called a Damsel. Different opinions call her the mother of peoples, progenitress of heroes and warriors or perhaps to a certain tribe. Every year a maiden was supposed to be selected to represent Anat which is where the relationship could come from. Her relationship with Baal is rather a challenge to define as well. At times she is referred to as his sister, at other times it appears as if she is his consort or lover. The revealed texts never quite show them in an erotic relationship. Although Anat does assist Baal in his battle and she does advocate for his cause to help get his own castle built on Mount Sapon in Lebanon. Exactly who Baal's father is remains to be solved. Everyone is quite sure that Anat is the daughter of El and Astarte, Baal is a different story. Is El his father or is Dagon, the God of Grain his real father. This of course impacts his relationship with Anat. Who is Baal's mother? Something never answered.

Anat can get real violent and kick but. She slays the God of Death, Mot, and used him as fertilizer. She slays Baal's foes and decorates her body with their hands and heads. She kills Aquat to get his bow and he turns down her request. Virgin are seen as taking a males masculinity which is represented by the bow. Anat also threatens El , the king of the Gods with bloodshed and tells him to build a castle for Baal or else. Some say that El is rather frightened other interpretations give that El is indulgent of a rebellious adolescent female.

Anat is the perennial adolescent. Youthful vigorous taking what she wants, assertive and independent. She is also very liminal and hard to define. Her character trait are androgynous with her dressing half like a man and half like a women. She is even described as having a beard. Hard to define. Have fun with this I loved the book and I love the Goddess Anat.

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One blond hair blue eyed Calfornian who totally digs the Middle East.
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