“The myth of Tammuz and Ishtar is one of the earliest examples of the dying god allegory, probably antedating 4000 B.C. … Tammuz did not occupy a position among the the first deities venerated by the Babylonians, who for lack of deeper knowledge looked upon him as a god of agriculture or a vegetation spirit. … Like many other savior gods, he is referred to as a ‘shepherd’. … Tammuz occupies the remarkable position of son and husband of Ishtar, the Babylonian and Assyrian Mother goddess. Ishtar was the most widely venerated deity of the Babylonian and Assyrian pantheon. … The story of her descent into the underworld in search presumably for the sacred elixir which alone could restore Tammuz to life is the key to the ritual of her mysteries. … Enraged upon beholding Ishtar, the Mistress of Hades inflicts upon her all manner of disease and imprisons her in the underworld.
“As Ishtar represents the spirit of fertility, her loss prevents the ripening of the crops and the maturing of all life upon the earth. …
“The myth of Ishtar symbolizes the descent of the human spirit through the seven worlds, or spheres of the sacred planets, until finally, derived of its spiritual adornments, it incarnates in a physical body—Hades—where the mistress of that body heaps every form of sorrow and misery upon the imprisoned consciousness. The waters of Life—the secret doctrine—cure the disease of ignorance, and the spirit, ascending again to its divine source, regains its God given adornments” ~Manly P. Hall
Dying God Allegory
Why would anyone create a god that does? And how can anyone think that a being is a god if that being can die? The answer seems to be that that among the ancients who worshiped a pantheon of gods, they generally had a hierarchy for them. Some gods were more powerful than others, and there was usually a chief god or father god who was the true God who was eternal and all-powerful. Tammuz was not considered that chief god. He was, we could say, a few levels down on the pyramid of gods. As such, it was possible for him to die, though it would take some supernatural being or force to do it.
More importantly, it seems that Tammuz was not a true god at all, but simply an allegory or metaphor for the forces of nature. The primitive people say the cycles of nature where plants seem to die in the fall and magically return in the spring. We know now that this happens in one of two ways. Some plants really do die, but leave seeds that sprout in the spring. Other plants only die above the ground leaving bulbs or roots below ground that do come back in the spring. So with the first type, they really do die, but their offspring are born to replace them. In the second case, they only appear to die, but part of them remains alive. So in no case do they truly die and get reborn. Nonetheless, a dying god generally represents this cycle of nature. As such, we can probably assume that to some degree, and on some level, Tammuz was a solar deity. Other dying gods can be found in other cultures, many of them copies of Tammuz who came earlier. Jesus could be put into this category, although he never claimed to be God or a god, but only Messiah. But there are many who believe Jesus was God, yet he was put to death. Continue reading “Dying God Myth and Symbolism”