Ishtar, a voluptuous winged goddess with lions on either side and an eight-pointed star above, ruled the Cradle of civilization for thousands of years.
Broken and bleeding, Katie is found unconscious inside a Mesopotamian temple three-thousand years ago. Wrapped in a mysterious blue plastic tarp and wearing an out-of-this-world blue vinyl United Nations jacket with white lettering and white plastic zipper, the ancients are even more astounded when they find a holy thing has been pushed from Ishtar's womb, actually her birth control device from the 21st century.
Katie's IUD has an exquisite copper wire wrapped around a white plastic tee. It looks like a cross having two plastic strings hanging from it.
The thing appears to be a mixture of cultures; the copper cross top is similar to the Egyptian ankh while the two strings at the bottom indicate continuity with the Zoroastrian god Ahura Mazda.
Chapter 11: Zoroastrians, Ancient Stoners
Katie Reynolds, a young veterinary doctor from California, and her college-age friend René have been cast back in time from the 20th century to 1340 BC where she is mistaken for Ištar, the ancient Sumerian goddess of love and war. Katie was sent to war-torn Kurdistan to find a disease spreading from animals to people. Unexpectedly caught in a firestorm, she is cast into the ancient Middle East, where she has only her intelligence to keep her alive in the extraordinary and archaic time of the Egyptian Pharaohs.
Following a lengthy convalescence in a primitive and foreign place, it takes Katie a while to realize she has been cast into a very ancient time. Not even the stars are familiar, the star clusters she expects; the ones she grew up with wouldn’t be in their usual heavenly positions for another four thousand years.
Chapter 15: Nefertiti's Palace
Luckily Katie finds two things to help her maintain a grip on her sanity; these ancients thought she was a goddess come to earth and treated her accordingly. And the second was not as important as status, but she was thrilled to realize René, her twentieth-century accomplice tripped through the same time portal she did during the firestorm.
René was discovered differently, not regarded by the Yezidi people as anything more than ordinary; he was more like them in skin color and was not seen preferentially like they saw Katie. Plus; he was a male; he didn’t fulfill their religious expectations as she did.
Katie's real acceptance as Ishtar could not begin until she came to understand these ancients really and truly believed she was divine Ištar from heaven. They took her earthly appearance in stride because that is what all the religions told people: we leave food in the altars for the Gods, so they will protect the place. And up to this point the priests used totems, called sanjaqs in place of real gods to dialog with the heavens above.
But the appearance of a real live Ištar was unheard of. No previous god deigned to walk among men, preferring to watch from high above, throwing fire and brimstone down upon the people instead of helping them. Religion told the tribe members that people were made to serve the gods.
When Katie’s accident cast her inside the ancient temple in Lalish, Moudad, the head priest immediately felt this was divine intervention. Wise enough to see how this could work to his advantage, he champions the goddess in human form. He may have harbored ulterior motives for Ištar's survival, but by, and large, he supported her to his fullest, which was big on heart and weak on might. His people, the ancient Yezidis, were never any match for the chariots and horses of his Mitanni, Egyptian or Hittite neighbors.
Ištar was the original Queen of Heaven. Intimately connected with fertility, sexuality, and war, Ištar's symbols were the lion, the horse, the sphinx, the dove, and a star within a circle emulating the planet Venus. She has been known as the deified evening star, and the morning star. The worship of this goddess was constant, dictating the lives of people and societies over thousands of years.
Ištar’s influence as the goddess of the Cradle of Civilization permeated all aspects of ancient life, for what else is there besides love and war? Temples to this powerful idea sprang all along all major river courses, the ancient avenues of commerce and migration. Her temples have been found on the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers, the Orontes and Eleutheros, even the mighty Nile, where Ištar often disagreed with the dictates of Egyptian Pharaohs.
Ištar adorned the temples of Nineveh in Iraq, Ugarit in Syria, and Akhmin in Egypt. She enhanced the temple in Paphos, Cyprus, laying the groundwork for the rise of Aphrodite from the sea foam a few hundreds of years later. Aphrodite became Venus when Romans inherited the world from the Greek pantheon of Mount Olympus.
As Ba'alat Gebal, Ištar's form came under scrutiny of the Biblical prophets, where she is mentioned 14 times. They called her Astoreth, the Queen of Heaven.
The people of Israel again did what was evil in the sight of the Lord and served the Baals and the Ashtaroth, the gods of Syria, the gods of Sidon, the gods of Moab, the gods of the Ammorites, and the gods of the Philistines. And they forsook the Lord and did not serve him.
1 Samuel 7:4
So the people of Israel put away the Baals and the Ashtaroth, and they served the Lord only.