The Three Monotheisms:
The Mesopotamian Goddess, Inana/Lilith:
The Winged, Owl-footed Mistress of Animals, Goddess of Fertility, Tree of Life
(Terracotta relief, c. 2000-1700 BCE)
[From Time/Life's series, MYTH AND MANKIND:
Epics of Early Civilization: Middle Eastern Myth, 1998:20]
(revised 11-12 February 2000) --
This manifestation of the Divine Feminine, Inanna, also known as Ishtar, Ashtart, Astarte, Asherah (and sometimes identified as Lilith), was at one time honored throughout the Near East. She brought fertility, grace and a woman's wisdom to that ancient world. The later male monotheisms of the region would begin by making her the focus of their bitter hatred as they destroyed her sacred groves, demolished her temples, and strove to disinherit all womankind. [See:Lilith Remembered: a poem by Kathy Robles, added 2 August 2002.]
Our planet's Near Eastern region, which includes the so-called "Cradle of Civilization" in the valley between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, is also the flashpoint for the world's only monotheisms. Earth has known countless beliefs and religions, but only three monotheisms; it has known countless tortured power-struggles, but none as savage, pandemic, or self-righteously intractable as those spawned by the monotheisms of the Near East.
This page seeks to look at these three siblings, all worshipping the same male deity who gave them a lush Garden and then let them degrade it into Earth's Wasteland, a ground-zero of hatred and tragedy.
As Wolfram von Eschenbach writes in his medieval Grail epic, Parzival, the origins of hatred do not lie in Cain's murder of his brother Abel -- that was only the proximate cause. Had the sanctity of earth been respected, no murder could have been done. Hatred erupted because she was violated by that spilled blood:[The hermit, Trevrizent, Parzival's uncle:] ...[Adam and Eve] had progeny. One son was driven by his discontent and by vainglorious greed to deflower his grandmother....For all this hatred, however, there still remain strong echoes of immense beauty and insight in these three monotheisms, these three siblings. While not ignoring their tragic negativity, it is nevertheless on these numinous echoes, still held as a precious potential within them, that I wish to focus these pages.......
[Parzival:] I doubt that it ever happened... You ought never to have said such a thing.
[Trevrizent:] I will remove your doubts....The earth was Adam's mother, by her fruits Adam was nourished. The earth was still a virgin then. It remains for me to tell you who took her maidenhead. Adam was father to Cain, who slew Abel for a trifle. When the blood fell upon the pure earth her virginity was gone, taken by Adam's son. This was the beginning of hatred among men, and thus it has endured ever since. [Tr., A. T. Hatto, Penguin Classics:237.]
Mantua Haggadah, 1560.
From The American Guild of Judaic Art
as of 19 March 2006,
Judaism now has its own individual section at:
Myth*ing Links Judaism
The Entombment (1440-1442)
Fra Angelico (1400-1445)
[Courtesy of Carol L. Gerten (Jackson) at CGFA]
Detail of Moslem Angels
From "A Prophet Seated in the Minbar of a Mosque Lecturing to his Disciples"
In Islamic Art, The Nasli M. Heeramaneck Collection. LA County Museum of Art, 1973
as of 1 December 2001,
Islam now has its own individual section at:
Myth*ing Links Islam
Menu of Myth*ing Links' Near Eastern pages:
Near East Opening Page/IndexThe Tigris-EuphratesRiver Valley
(also known as Mesopotamia, Sumer, Babylonia, Assyria)
Lilith Remembered: a poem by Kathy Robles
(which once covered much of modern Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine and Israel)
Anatolia & Central Asia
(which once covered much of modern Turkey & beyond to the Eurasian steppes)Contemporary IraqThe Three Desert-Born Monotheisms: Judaism, Christianity & IslamJudaism
Rabi'a al-'Adawiyya, an 8th Century Islamic Saint from IraqThe Crone Papers: Notes on the Mideast:
What Can We Do About Terrorism? by Dr. Robert M. Bowman, Lt. Col., USAF, ret.
Myth*inglinks' Home Page
On my home page you'll find my complete site map
as well as my e-mail address.
This page created with Netscape Gold
Technical assistance: William Weeks
Text and Design:
© 1999-2006 by Kathleen Jenks, Ph.D.
All rights reserved.
Page created 11-12 February 2000
(with portions "transplanted" from the original Near Eastern opening page plus new links).
21-22 February 2000;
1-2 December 2001 (new Islam page); 18 December 2001 (Nedstat 3 & re-designed);
2 August 2002: updated menu; minor revisions to last 4 lines of essay; added Kathy's poem;
16 January 2003: finally launched Christianity page from 12/01; updated menu for Rabi'a.
17-19 March 2006: finally launched Judaism page with many new links added to the original two.
Note: Bar-separators are a detail I cropped from the famous Standard of Ur (c.2600-2400 BCE),
found in Time/Life's series, MYTH AND MANKIND: Epics of Early Civilization:
Middle Eastern Myth, 1998:54.