Easter or Ishtar – what’s the truth?

Ishtar and Easter?The image at the right – which I personally did not create but which I am clarifying here because it contains a valid point – is trotted out and circulated widely at Easter time, to the delight of many thousands who gleefully pass it around on social networking. Such notables as atheist spokesman Richard Dawkins have uploaded the image, without commentary or clarification, much to the chagrin of some who wish to dissect its claims.

Critics point out that the name “Ishtar” – meaning “star” in Semitic – is not related to “Easter,” as asserted in this image. This Ishtar-Easter rebuttal is publicized in long screeds filled with snarky commentary by non-experts that are receiving thousands of views and hundreds of remarks but that are shallow and do not address the subject adequately.

Although true etymologically, the Ishtar-Easter rejoinder turns out to be a bit of a straw man argument. The word is “Eostre” in the Old English, and it has to do with “east,” but it appears also to be related to the Greek word “Eos,” which refers to the dawn and was deified as the dawn goddess:

This word Eos, Eostre, Ostara, is related to Sanskrit and Vedic usra or ushas, the Zendic ushastara and the Lithuanian Ausra, the old Teutonic austron, and the male spring or dawn deity…

Since Ishtar was also a dawn goddess, it is possible that even in antiquity she and Eos were conflated or remarked upon as having some relationship. Although the impression is given that the correspondence between Ishtar and Eostre is completely preposterous and merits an inquisition, the identification of Ishtar and Eos has been made by past scholars, such as American classicist Dr. Joseph E. Fontenrose:

The Akkadian terms haritu and shamhatu both mean prostitute and were often used as epithets of the goddess Ishtar… Fontenrose…argues that the “harlot is surely a form of Ishtar and parallels Aphrodite/Eos as well and Artemis in Greek myth.” (Donald H. Mills, The Hero and the Sea, 50)

As another example, regarding the ancient fertility goddess, in How the Easter Story Grew from Gospel to Gospel, biblical literature professor Dr. Rolland E. Wolfe includes a discussion of Ishtar:

In the polytheistic pantheons of antiquity there usually was a king or chief of the gods, and also a female counterpart who was regarded as his wife. This mother goddess was one of the most important deities in the ancient Near East. She was called by the various names of Ishtar, Athtar [sic], Astarte, Ashtoreth, Antit, and Anat. This mother goddess always was associated with human fertility. In the course of time Mary was to become identified with this ancient mother goddess, or perhaps it should be said that Mary was about to supplant her in certain Christian circles.

In the long run, while the words “Ishtar” and “Easter” may not be related, the celebration of “Easter” is assuredly a pre-Christian vernal equinox and fertility festival.

Further Reading

Is Easter Christian or Pagan?
Easter: The Resurrection of Spring
Moses, the Promised Land and Easter

Updated: December 23, 2018 — 8:21 pm


  1. Wonders shall never end! I am confident that Nasio Fonte’s crooning of the truth revealing someday is very near and the whole world will wish their great ancestors could have read between the lines and maintained their own traditional rites to meeting God.

  2. .

    Actually, Easter and the Easter-egg came from the Egyptian Isis.

    In Egyptian Isis was called Ast or Est, from which we derive Ester or Easter (referring to a star or the heavens). And remember that Isis-Est was a fertility goddess, as much as she was the Queen of Heaven.

    And the Easter-egg came from the spelling, because Est was spelt with the easter-egg glyph. So yes, there are associations with fertility in the symbology of Est (Isis). Oh, and Ishtar (Isht-ar) came from the Egyptian Est (Isis), and not the other way around.


    (See: Cleopatra to Christ)

  3. .

    It is highly probable that the figure of the goddess Astharte/Asherah/Ishtar falls in some way in the human story of Jesus, thus as it was in his time in that of Abraham … (see Sarah by Alter Marek)



  4. .

    After the conquest of the Hycksos, the semitic goddess Astharte/Ishtar was identified with the egyptian goddess Hathor. However, even between Isis and Astharte there are many points in common …


    1. Thank you. We should also recall that Isis and Hathor were syncretized quite often.

  5. .

    “.. (see Sarah by Alter Marek)..”

    Sorry…no Alter Marek, but Halter Marek

    ( http://www.historicalnovels.info/Sarah.html )



  6. .

    x Acharya:

    Sorry…Can I send you a PM on Facebook? ..

    I’d like you to read the translation of my post that I recently posted in my group …

    Best regards


  7. Has no one here ever heard of passover? and how easter concides with Jesus celebrating the passover and then being crucified? no one actually thinks eggs and bunny’s reflect the crucifixion story, yes traditions carried over though. as for the word it suppose to come from old-english germanic,of Ostern, a germanic spring goddess. so now ya’ll are going to be like ooohhh stolen from a german goddess, no the word is just used as an english translation from latin/greek Pasch. research people research.

    1. Yes, please do research, as Passover also is a pre-Judaic spring celebration that has nothing to do with an actual Exodus. The placement of the fictional crucifixion at that time was done to coincide with both spring celebrations.

      See also: “Moses, the Promised Land and Easter”

  8. Jesus, God’s Son became the sacrifice to redeem / save the World from Sin that it inherited from Adam’s disobedient act in the Garden of Eden.
    Man’s Spirit can return to God who made man live.
    God is eternal. All He made is eternal.
    He wants Man most of all He made to be with Him and not with Satan who opposes Him.
    Jesus paid for us.

  9. It is good for all of us to pause and reflect on how many myths and rumors we come to accept as truth, from word-of-mouth to social media, and even from respected publications. Fact checking will always yield the truth if we are willing to dig deep enough.

    To echo AS, with an emphatic “YES,” please research!

    One thing comes to mind, which was actually addressed recently on social media, about American Daylight Savings Time, regarding the myth that its purpose is was to give farmers more light toward the end of the day. Aside from the illogical notion that moving the clock forward an hour will give one more daylight, the farmers were the law’s biggest opponents at the time this legislation was being passed. The myth is simply not true, yet this snippet is often thrown around as fact, even by renown publications.

  10. I am surprised by the way you use the term ‘Passover’. I had understood this to describe the Jewish exodus out of Egypt when Moses guided them over the Red Sea and into the ‘Promised Land’.The Jewish festival of Pesach celebrates this.
    If you are not relating ‘Passover’ to the Jews,,then maybe you are referring to the SUN passing into the first phase of the year? I had never heard that before.

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