Innana and Ishtar

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Knowledge: Religion DC 15

Inanna, the southern Ghinoran Goddess of War and Love, is Lawful Evil, with the domains of Strength, Trickery, War, Envy, and Lust. She is known as the Schemer, the Kingmaker, and the Whore of War (usually among detractors). She is depicted as a beautiful, six-armed, axe-wielding woman standing on the backs of two lions (probably representing her hatred of the Goddess Ki). Her title as a Goddess of Love does not refer to romantic love, but rather sexuality and promiscuity. Although associated to some extent with fertility, she is not a mother goddess and rarely is associated with childbirth. She is as cruel and warlike as she is wayward. Inanna is worshipped in northern and western Ghinor in a Neutral aspect as Ishtar, the Maiden of Love and War, with the domains of Magic, Strength, War, Charm, Lust, and Summoning. Ishtar is warlike and wayward but, unlike Innana, is cruel only to those who spurn her.

Knowledge: Religion DC 25

Both Inanna’s and Ishtar’s worshippers aspire to follow the example set by their goddess during her rise to power. In ancient times, during the “Flowering of the God Tree,” the goddess was either a human woman or walked amongst humans. She wandered the earth, dragging young men out of the taverns to have sex with her and luring them into absolute loyalty and devotion. She attracted the attention of the elder Ghinoran God Enki, who attempted to seduce her with a great festival in her honor. Through subterfuge, Innana/Ishtar got Enki drunk and stole from him the one hundred great secrets of tactics and weaponry. From these secrets, Innana/Ishtar gained her power as a goddess of war. She granted this power to mortal men who worshipped her, allowing them to become kings.

Inanna/Ishtar’s jealous sister, Ereshkigal, kidnapped the goddess’ favorite consort and trapped him in the Netherworld. The goddess, enraged, went to the gates of the Netherworld and demanded, “If thou openest not the gate to let me enter, I will break the door, I will wrench the lock, I will smash the door-posts, I will force the doors. I will bring up the dead to eat the living. And the dead will outnumber the living.” She passed through all seven gates of the Netherworld, variously intimidating the guardians with similar threats and bemusing them by removing articles of clothing. When she arrived at her consort’s prison, now naked and unarmed, she freed the consort, but Ereshkigal latched onto her and refused to let her leave the Netherworld.

Enki, hearing of this and still impressed by how Inanna/Ishtar had tricked him, sent his agents to negotiate with Ereshkigal for the goddess’ release. Clerics of the two different goddesses disagree on what happened next. Innana’s church insists that Inanna used this distraction to overpower Ereshkigal, cast her sister out, and take command of the Netherworld. She then took control of Enki’s agents and seduced the devils of the underworld, adding their power to her own and gaining her six-armed aspect. Ishtar’s clerics argue that she used Enki’s support to negotiate her freedom in exchange for another to remain in her place. Upon returning to the mortal realm, she found her consort seated on his throne, not mourning her at all. In anger, Ishtar banished him back to the Netherworld as her replacement.

So, both Inanna’s and Ishtar’s followers seek power through strength and seduction. Both serve as the “power behind the throne,” influencing various rulers with their advice and support. Inanna’s clerics, however, ultimately seek to take that power for their own through tyranny and cruelty. Ishtar’s clerics are cruel only to those who spurn them, rewarding those who are loyal. The two religions oppose each other wherever they overlap, each insisting that the other is a corruption of the true faith. Each church refers to the other as the “Heretics of Ereshkigal.”

Innana and Ishtar

Wilderlands Age of Worms ransomp666 edkelly2000