A Who's Who of World Mythology : Anahita

Anahita is an Iranian water and fertility goddess and Zoroastrian river goddess. She is the mother goddess of Armenia, widely worshipped from 558-330 BCE and associated with Mithra. Her name means “immaculate.” Identified with the planet Venus, she is closely linked to Ishtar, and she is linked to Haoma (Soma), a god who conferred immortality. She also appears in a triad of goddesses with Athirat and Asera.

Anahita may be equated with Anthat (Canaanite/Phoenician alternatives –Anat, Anath; Ugarit alternative –Anaitis; Egyptian alternatives –Antit, Anthrathi), and she is a Yazatas or guardian spirit. She is usually represented in a gown of gold with a crown and jewels. The dove and peacock are sacred to her. Anthat is a goddess of love and war in Ugarit myth and prostitution was a part of her cult. In Acilisena, the center of her cult, noble families regularly offered up their daughters to the temple to serve as sacred prostitutes.

According to myth, she slaughtered Baal’s worshippers and only ceased when he agreed to reveal the secret of lightning to her. When her lover (and sometimes brother) Baal was killed by Mot, the god of Death, she avenged him thusly in a punishment usually applied to vegetation deities:

With a sword she cleanses him
With a pitchfork she winnows him
With a fire she burns him
In the millstones she grinds him
In the field she plants him.

In Egypt, she was worshipped by Thotmes III where she was said to be a child of Set or of Ra. He was so impressed by this goddess, he adopted her as his “shield” in battle and named his daughter for her, Bin-Anat (daughter of Anat). On monuments, she was called “Lady of heaven and mistress of the gods” and “Lady of the Mountain.” She has also been called “mother of the gods,” “mistress of the sky,” and the “virgin Anat.”