The goddess Ishtar, the great mother goddess, is the goddess of vegetation in nature, as of fertility among mankind and animals. She is also a mother goddess, the goddess of spring, a storm goddess, a warrior and goddess of war, a goddess of the hunt. As a Babylonian goddess, Ishtar originally may have been a Sumerian or Akkadian goddess.
She is pictured as spending half the year on earth, when nature is in bloom and animals give birth to their young, while during the remaining half, when nature seems dead, She is imprisoned in the lower world known as Aralu. The story of Her descent to the Underworld is, therefore, a nature myth, symbolizing the change from the summer to the winter season, while Her release is the corresponding change from winter to summer.
Descent of the Goddess Ishtar Into the Lower World
To the land of no return, the land of darkness,
Ishtar, the daughter of Sin directed her thought,
Directed her thought, Ishtar, the daughter of Sin,
To the house of shadows, the dwelling of Irkalla,
To the house without exit for him who enters therein,
To the road whence there is no turning,
To the house without light for him who enters therein,
The place where dust is their nourishment, clay their food.
They have no light, in darkness they dwell.
Clothed like birds, with wings as garments,
Over door and bolt, dust has gathered.
Ishtar on arriving at the gate of the land of no return,
To the gatekeeper thus addressed herself:
The Festival of Ishtar took place in ancient Babylonia on this day. Offerings were made to the goddess to promote health and fruitfulness.