At their first encounter, Ishtar is said to have fallen in love with the shepherd boy Tammuz who in turn asks for her hand in marriage. The Holy Marriage of Ishtar and Tammuz takes place and Tammuz is elevated to the god of fertility. As a result, their marriage endows the earth with fertility, and the cyclical renewal of life is ensured.
But a terrible day was to come when Ishtar would lose her lover, and would have to travel to the ends of the earth, and endure much pain and suffering, in order to bring him back.
The myth tells how Tammuz is killed, during the same month that bears his name. In the burning days of late summer the people came to the fields, where Tammuz stood, and cruelly murdered him with sickles scattering his flesh over the land. When the Goddess Ishtar learned of the death of her beloved, she was distraught with grief. Weary and worn from weeping she knew that she must find the spirit of Tammuz and bring him back to life, whatever perils faced her.
Ishtar finally descends to the netherworld to rescue Tammuz from “land of no return.” During these events in the netherworld , everything on earth is withering away. Trees and plants wither and die and animals and humans alike are sterile.
When Ishtar pleads with the Gods to restore Tammuz to life, the Gods agree, but to a partial reprieve only; whereby Tammuz spends six months in the world of the living and the following six months in the netherworld . Hence Tammuz is restored to life in the netherworld and together with his lover Ishtar they triumphantly return to earth on the first day of spring and the start of the New Year in Beth Nahrain.
Over the centuries as the myth was passed from generation to generation the love story was further elaborated. The expanded version of the myth explains how Ishtar’s husband Tammuz, who was also her son and her brother, came together with Ishtar in the world. She bore him, she made love with him and yet she remained a virgin.
After Tammuz was killed by a wild boar, Ishtar put ashes on her head and mourned for 40 days, giving up all pleasures and food. But then, she discovers that she is pregnant. She declares that it is a miraculous conception and in celebration of this miraculous pregnancy, this divine fertility, she has an egg of gold made, calling it the golden egg of Ishtar.
Ishtar searches for Tammuz all over the world. And finally finds him in the netherworld and eventually brings him back to life. Tammuz is resurrected and the vegetation again flourishes.
Source: Assyrian Voice
This story comes from China. It begins with a giant egg. The egg was filled with chaos; in fact, the egg was so huge that it was filled with absolutely everything. Darkness and light were mixed together inside the egg and everything was in so much of a muddle that nothing was anything at all. Sleeping in the middle of all this was a giant – Pan Gu.
Pan Gu slept for thousands of years, but eventually he woke up and stretched himself, as he did, he broke the egg. The darkness and light separated from each other and poured out. Part of the egg drifted downwards and became the earth and part floated upwards and became the sky. The world had begun.
Pan Gu lived on the earth for many years making the world safe and beautiful. When he’d finished he was tired again and lay down for another short nap. While he slept his body changed into a whole mountain range covered in forests and rivers, his breath became the wind and his eyes became the sun and the moon. (If you’re not careful, this is what can happen to you if you stay asleep in bed for too long and don’t get up for school in the morning)
The world stayed this way for thousands of more years until, one day, it was discovered by Nu Kua. (noo-kwah)
Nu Kua was a strange and beautiful creature: her upper body was like that of a woman’s while her lower body was like that of a snake’s. She wandered around the world and was very happy. She watched the animals and roamed through the forests. Everything was so beautiful; she was enchanted with all that she saw.
The world was a wonderful place, but after a while, Nu Kua became lonely. Then, one day as she was sitting by a pool gazing at her own refection, she suddenly had an idea; she reached down into the pool and took a handful of yellow clay. Skilfully, she lovingly modeled a small figure that looked very much like her self, except that it had legs instead of a snake’s tail. When she had finished, she breathed life into it, placed it on the ground and the creature magically came to life; the first human had come into being.
Nu Kua was so delighted with the small creature, that she made many more and loved and cared for them all. At night while they slept, she would whisper secrets in their ears and sing to them softly so that they might sleep blissfully and awake in the morning with joy in their hearts.
All was well for a long time, until one day: disaster struck. In the heavens above the earth Gong Gong the lord of water and Zhu Rong the lord of fire were fighting. They fought so fiercely that they fell to earth where they continued to battle, causing terrible destruction.
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