The wife of the creator god El in the legends of certain ancient Semitic peoples. The Queen of Heaven; the goddess of sex and fertility; and the protector of women. Her symbol was the snake.

Later kicked out of the pantheon by the Levite priestly caste; Ashtoreth went underground as Shekinah (or Shekhinah).

She got a bum rap in "Snow Crash", possibly because Neal Stephenson is just a touch of a sexist.

The name of the Canaanite fertility goddess and consort of Baal. Known as Astarte to the Greeks. Also seen as Ashtaroth, Ashteroth Karnaim, and Astoreth. All these variants can be found in the Bible's Old Testament as place names, presumably of shrines to the goddess.

And moonèd Ashtaroth,
Heav'ns Queen and Mother both,

-- John Milton
Hymn on the Morning of Christ's Nativity

Adapted from sources including the Columbia Encyclopedia: Sixth Edition.

Ash"to*reth (#), n.; pl. Ashtaroth (#).

The principal female divinity of the Phenicians, as Baal was the principal male divinity.

W. Smith.

 

© Webster 1913.

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