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Aserah


Aserah was the great Mother Goddess of Canaan, known as Lady Aserah of the sea, she apparently lived close to the palace of Il, the Canaanite creator god, and supposedly had many sons. She was described as the "creatress of the gods," and the matron of other goddesses who oversee the natural world. Her attitude toward Baal was ambiguous. She intercedes with Il on behalf of Baal when the latter wishes to build his own palace, but when Baal is vanquished she places one of her own offspring on the throne. It was Aserah who gave her name to the hill shrines under the trees that were vilified by the writers of the biblical prophetic books such as Ezekiel. Translated ass "grove" in the King James version, the aserah seems to have been a carved wooden pillar that formed the focal point of worship in conjunction with a stone massebah. The aserah represented the presence of the Mother Goddess. Its popularity among a large number if Israelite is indisputable, but because of its Pagan connotations and particularly its representation on the mother deity linked to fertility rituals, the aserah became one of the major irritants of the prophets and other religious leaders of the tribes during the Israelite period. This may have caused a large number to assume a vigorous ambivalent attitude to Yvwhism.

The Goddess' "grove-yoni" was Athra qaddisa, "the holy place" (literally, "divine harlot"). Sometimes she was simply called "Holiness," a term later reserved for Yahweh. She became a feminine form of rabbi, called Rabbaitu. In Egypt she assumed all names that were the various forms of Hathor. Also she was a Law-giving Mother, Ashesh, an archaic form of Isis, a name that meant "pouring out" and "supporting," the functions of her breasts.

For sometime Aserah accepted the Semitic god El as her consort. She was the Heavenly Cow, he the Bull. Following their sacred marriage, she bore the heavenly twins Shaher and Shalem, the stars of the morning and evening. The marriage rite appeared to have involved the cooking of a kid in its mother's milk, a procedure forbidden by Jewish priests. (Exodus 23:19) A.G.H.


Sources:

Jordan, Michael, Encyclopedia of Gods, New York, Facts On File, Inc. 1993, pp.27-28
Walker, Barbara G, The Woman's Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets, New York, HarperCollins, 1983, p. 66



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