Exploring spirituality somewhere between the Emerald Isle and the Black Land....

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

And Then There Was ‘Anatu and ‘Athtartu

Or, "Why Kaif is a Big Fat God Slut."

Some time ago, I stumbled across Tess Dawson's website, Natib Qadish: Modern Canaanite Polytheism. After poking around a bit, I found a brief description of the goddess ‘Anatu, a deity of war and loyalty. She was described as being young, fierce and fearless, and ready to defend those she cares about.

Despite how short the description of ‘Anatu was, it really made an impression on me. The feeling I got reading about her was kind of like the feeling you get when you meet some one new, and know instantly that you're going to be friends. Needless to say, I was immediately hooked, and eager to learn more about this deity. Yet at the same time, I must admit that part of me was a little frustrated as well. I had just gotten a handle on my Kemetic goings-on and wanted to continue to focus on that, to continue to nurture the relationships that I had spent roughly a year developing. However, the feeling I got about ‘Anatu was one I had learned not to ignore. After some extensive internal debate, and some reassurances to and from the Netjeru, I eventually managed to strike a compromise with myself. My immersion into Canaanite polytheism or Natib Qadish was a slow process as I learned about ‘Anatu and her fellow Caananite gods, culture, and religion bit by bit, while still keeping the focus on further establishing my Kemetic practices.

Eventually, ‘Athtartu started creeping into my mind as well. Tess Dawson's website describes her as "a goddess of compassion, restraint, and peace," and a goddess of justice. In other words, very different from ‘Anatu! It confused me a great deal that these two very different deities were both so appealing to me (or that I was so appealing to them, whichever the case may be), but I eventually learned that according to legend, ‘Athtartu and ‘Anatu were friends and would go hunting together. Discovering that was one of those beautiful moments when your own intuition can be validated by research, and that's when their connection really clicked for me. It is difficult to put into words as this understanding is so visceral, but it's about the wholeness of two seemingly separate and opposing parts. They are the warrior and the diplomat; the need to fight or make peace, act or react, and to me, together they represent the need and the wisdom to take the appropriate action at the appropriate time. This insight gave sense to my fascination with these goddesses, since one of the things I've struggled with all my life is knowing when to push and when to pull.

I recently decided to take the plunge and give the goddesses a shrine of their own, and begin some sort of formal practice for them. Despite my limited skill, I had previously made statues for them. ‘Anatu is in a smiting pose similar to those of other Canaanite warrior deities, holding a spear in hand, and ‘Athtartu is in a gentle pose, sporting the prominent pubic triangle with which she is often identified. I put these statues on a shelf with some modest decoration, and while it's a simple shrine, I like the result:

The shrine of ‘Anatu (on the left) and ‘Athtartu (on the right), with offerings of a candle, incense, and water.

If you are interested  Cananite Polytheism, check out Natib Qadish: Modern Canaanite Polytheism and Kina Ľani: Impressions of Tess Dawson, Canaanite Polytheist. For more information about ‘Anatu and ‘Athtartu specifically, read "Oh My Goddess-es: Identities of Inanna, Astarte, Ishtar, ‘Athtartu, ‘Anatu, and Athiratu" to learn more about them.  :)