The Asherah Cult

The photo shows figurines of Baal/ El / Yahweh and Asherah, later known to Muslims as Allah and Allat.

Asherah was principally worshipped at the Philistine Pentapolis, a coalition of five cities forming a kingdom comprised of Ashdod, Ashkelon, Ekron, Gath and Gaza, but also along Canaan and, for some time, Israel.

She appears in the Old Testament under the name of Ashtoreth and Astoreth (dialectal forms for Astarte) and sometimes depicted as a bull, as if she were Baal; in the Biblia Vulgata she is called Astaroth without any depiction, and some translations included the original name, Asherah.

She was associated with Baal as his female Philistine counterpart, and in this sense her name can be considered closely related to the Venusian goddesses Astarte, Ishtar and Belili. It appears to be that she was higher to Baal in status within a matriarchal society, but with the migration of tribes organised in patriarchal societies and the subsequent domination by them she was placed under her husband in importance.

Her cult included sacred prostitution and, before this use was dedicated to Baal, human sacrifice. It is believed that her cult, although forbidden by Hebrews lasted during the Roman occupation in Israel in the hidden form of houses of prostitution, until emperor Constantine closed those houses after converting to Christianity.

She was usually depicted as a nude woman. Often a wooden-made rudely carved statue planted on the ground of the house was her symbol, and sometimes a clay statue without legs and put in the same way. Her idols were found also in forests, carved on living trees, or in the form of poles made of psychoactive acacia trees placed beside altars or along the side of some roads.

It was believed that her essence dwelled in acacia trees or pieces of wood. Canaanites and Hebrews also made small breads with her figure that were later blessed and eaten during a ritual ceremony. This communion was likely made with acacia extract and other entheogenic ingredients which some scholars think could have been the inspiration for the Heavenly Host.