TSG *update* Disclaimer: Old cross post from Tumblr. I had recent UPG that gods share names at times and this is where some of the confusion come from. (Though they never specified who or when, etc.) I can completely see this. But I think, at least, there is enough evidence for Ishtar becoming Aphrodite in the records.
Isis-Aphrodite statue in the pic. I tried to find the funny one of her lifting her skirt up, but failed.
Disclaimer: I am going to make this post and its the first time I really publicly spoke of my UPG/CPG with syncretism. I have no clue if many others have similar ones because the only people I ever really corresponded with on the matter were hard polytheists who are reconstructionists who reject that sort of thing, both modern and ancient, which was one of the reasons I left it. So, if you’re easily offended about gods and what not, then ignore this post. I am not here to debate the matter because I see gods largely and ultimately “unknowable” and conclusively unknown from an objective point of view. (My agnostic side here.) So, this is an entirely subjective/opinionated post.
If you’re new to this, UPG is unsubstantiated personal gnosis, which means its not a fact or scientific evidence. The term is used, specifically, to about any sort of spiritual experiences… Be it with nature, gods, spirits, demons, and so forth. It includes communications with them. SPG is shared personal gnosis in which multiple people have the same UPG or same experience, sometimes at the same time. Lastly, CPG is confirmed personal gnosis in which the user may learn something about a spiritual being through UPG, only to have it historically confirmed later. None of these things equate to “facts” however, because beliefs in and of themselves are not facts. (Other than the fact of what one believes.)
I, for the record, am not a soft nor hard polytheist. I am more in the middle, I have only met one other who is also a middle polytheist. (I really don’t know another name for it.) I am also not a monotheist. I am however, a monist, but I believe the one thing underlying all of reality is primordial chaos/void. I believe gods can separate into 2 different gods, which according to my UPG is what happened to Quetzalcoatl and Tezcatlipoca, which is why they’re twins, rivals, opposites, and now two very distinct beings. I also believe gods can merge with each other, but that is where I do not have a lot of UPG to say. It would be similar to how Sekhmet-Bast-Hathor are sometimes considered same goddess in some trads, yet entirely different beings at the same time.
My experience with Isis-Aphrodite: Back in 2005, when I was young, I had a discussion with Isis in which she told me her other names… The names of which were Aphrodite and Ishtar, are the ones that stuck in my mind. (She only told me names I knew of. I made note of this.) I made note of it, forgot about it for along time and went on with life. (She also told me Isis is her favorite name for herself.)
About a year or two later, I happened to stumble upon the Isis-Aphrodite thing and remembered what she said. Through my research I found out that Aphrodite was the Greek version of Babylonian Ishtar, that is, the Greeks inherited her from the ancient near east and ascribed to her their own cultural views. Including a new origin myth. Before then, the Greeks had two different gods for the evening and morning stars because they thought they were two different stars. The morning star god, remained in later Roman poetic term as “Lucifer”, who very much later the church said was Satan. After which, the Greeks only had Aphrodite as both stars because they took a lot from the Babylonians, Assyrians, and so forth. (The zodiac, astronomy, planets, Hermes’s staff, [Ningishziddha] and astrology was taken from the ancient near east, probably some more I do not know of. Ishtar retained her planet name through Venus.)
Now its important to note that many scholars talk about how fecund Inanna is just within the context of Sumerian myth alone and tie her with Astarte, who see her as nothing more than a West Semitic version of Ishtar. (Though some dispute this.) She is called “she of many faces” for all her various aspects in mythology, aspects such as Kilili in her descent to Kur which is similar to Lilith. (Origins of the confusing identity of the Burney relief.) Likewise, later on, Isis is called “She of 10,000 names” and her cult was popular enough to start absorbing many other goddess cults of the Roman era.
See, the Sumerians were conquered by the Babylonians who took their culture/religion. Very similar to how the Romans conquered the Greeks and then adapted everything. Old Babylonian religion( pre-Marduk), is considered the same as the Sumerian, with slightly different names for the gods. Inanna became Ishtar. Enki became Ea, Utu became Shamash, Nanna became Sin, etc.
How I saw Isis, in my UPG, was very similar to the author of the Golden Ass. His account of Isis is when she appears to him and gives him many names of herself that are names of other goddesses. The book was written centuries ago and I never really had any sort of net access until 2006, so I was astounded to see such passages. The major difference is that the names she gave me and the names he got are different. I can’t explain this and I don’t care to, though maybe he took some liberties. I certainly cannot remember the other names she gave me, Aphrodite, Isis, and Ishtar were the three that stood out to me the most.
Now I am going to admit, I am a bit fuzzy on the Egyptian Aset’s connection and Isis. Aset is connected to so many goddesses within Egyptian myth, even foreign goddesses, it is even more confusing than this post is probably to you reading this. (Its confusing to me, at least. Hathor, as well.) But by the time the cult got around in the Roman era I am less confused. Aphrodite, as seen in this relief and many others like it, became heavily syncretized with Isis at the time.
But I think the biggest telling thing to me is that Isis picked up some epithets and associations that Aphrodite had previously lost in her transition from Ishtar. First, Isis became associated with the moon, though not considered a proper moon goddess ala Diana. Just by association, which is how Ishtar was in ancient times. This is interesting because Ishtar/Inanna was associated with the moon. Not only was her father Nanna the moon god, but she had that underworld kilili form I spoke of earlier and controlled Lilitu,(and lilitu demons) whose name alludes to the night and the moon, and is a succubus. [night demon] The other interesting title was the Romans started calling her the “Queen of Heaven”. This is the most famous title of Ishtar’s and I have never seen Aphrodite being called that, so its interesting to me how things came back around full circle centuries later when a few of the cultures were gone. And like Aset, Ishtar tended to trick other gods. Though Ishtar is not as heavily associated with magic until later. As we know, Isis is all about magic. Hell, the Egyptian culture was all about that sometimes. Magic was a big part of daily life.
We know, maybe you heard of it, that Mary and Jesus pictures are based on Isis and Horus. They are similar images and I do believe it is not a coincidence. Some pagans include the Virgin Mary as an aspect of Isis. Personally, I have very little experience in this area. So, I guess you could say Mary is a Christianized Isis, although not exactly like St.Brigid.
Anyway, my recent UPG, Isis told me another name for herself, a more modern one is Aradia. Now, the only “evidence” is that this was an idea Leland also had which he wrote about in the appendix of his book. (In an ironic twist of fate, he also relates her to Lilith.) But now I consider Aset, Ishtar, Inanna, Aradia, Aphrodite, Astarte, and Isis to be parts of her many forms and names. (This is not including the cultural specific titles she bears.) I wrote a long thing about how she was Aradia here.
Now, please take this with a grain of salt because it is just UPG and not as fact. If you ever doubt one god being the same as X god, then treat both as different gods unless they say differently to you, I mean, if you’re a theist.