The ancient Phoenician goddess of love and fruitfulness, and the supreme female divinity of the Phoenician nations. She symbolizes all aspects of the female principle, just as her male counterpart, Baal, symbolizes the male principle. Astarte was worshipped at Tyre and Sidon, and was identified with various lunar and fertility deities, the Greek Aphrodite, the Babylonian Ishtar, and the androgynous Baalith. The Israelites worshipped her after the conquest of Canaan, and her cult was also adopted by the Philistines.
In works of Phoenician art, Astarte is depicted as a woman robed in flames, armed with a bow and sword, and wearing the horns of a cow upon her head to symbolize her powers of fertility. (Because her horns are crescent shaped, she is often mistakenly identified as a lunar goddess). Sometimes she is depicted with a serpant or a child. The first fruits of the season, along with newborn animals and firstborn children, were sacrificed to her in primitive times in order to increase fertility in women, animals, and the Earth. Animals sacred to her are the gazelle, the cat, and the dove. Her sacred tree is the myrtle.
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