Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Goddess Tanit

From Barbara Walker's "A Woman's Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets."

Carthaginian name of the Phoenician Great Goddess, Astarte - the biblical Ashtoreth or Asherah. Her temple in Carthage was called the Shrine of the Heavenly Virgin. Greek and Roman writers called it a temple of the moon.(1)

Another of her titles was Astroarche, Queen of the Stars. Her priestesses were famous astrologers, whose prophecies were circulated throughout the Roman empire and even rivaled the pronouncements of the Cumaean sybils.(2)

Though Romans destroyed Carthage in the Punic Wars, Roman legend traced the very origin of Rome to the Carthanginian mother-city, as shown by the story of Aeneas, who came directly across the Mediterranean from there, to found Rome.(3) The primitive Roman queen Tanaquil, who conferred sovereignty on the "fatherless" Latin kings, the Tarquins, was none other than the Lybyan Goddess Tanit. She was also known as Libera, Goddess of Libya, whose festival the Liberalia was celebrated each year in Rome during the Ides of March.(4) An alternative name for the festival was Bacchanalis, dramatizing the love-death and resurrection of Bacchus Liber, or Dionysus, or Consus, which were various names for the same fertility god.(5)

The distinctive symbol of Tanit was a pyramidal shape, like a woman in a very full skirt, topped by a dis-shaped full-moon head, with upraised arms in the manner of the Egyptian ka.(6) Similar smbols represented such goddesses as Aphrodite, Athene, Venus, and Juno.

(1) Reinach, 42.
(2) Lindsay, O.A., 327.
(3) Reinach, 106.
(4) G.R. Scott, 165.
(5) Graves, W.G., 399.
(6) Larousse, 84.
Some personal observations: Tanit is on the order of the "Hannah/Anna" goddesses, great mother goddesses, previously posted about - I've got to get some kind of search engine installed at this blog! Think of the ka shape as a referee's arms signalling "touchdown!" That's the form.

Was Car the goddess of Carthage - that is, the same as the goddess Tanit?

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