The British Museum Tries, and Fails, to Recast Paganism as Female Empowerment

Sept. 16 2022

The exhibit Feminine Power: The Divine to the Demonic, currently on display at the British Museum, contains images of goddesses and other supernatural female beings from across the globe and throughout history. To Matthew J. Milliner, it appears a throwback to the “goddess movement” that originated in the 1970s, and imagined a primitive past of matriarchal cultures that worshipped female divinities and stood in contrast to the patriarchal societies of the modern West, with their male clergy and paternal God. But this view of the past never held up to scholarly scrutiny, as is self-evident from the artifacts themselves:

Visitors to this British Museum exhibition are immediately faced with a nude Inanna (whose Akkadian name was Ishtar), the ferocious forerunner of Aphrodite. She stands naked and exposed, just as men like King Sargon the Great of Assyria wished her to be. She is sometimes known as Astarte or the Canaanite goddess Anat, but whatever one calls her, she was merciless and vindictive. Using Inanna to advance female empowerment, as the exhibition intimates, is comparable to prescribing crystal meth to combat mild depression.

The Egyptian goddess Sekhmet was as bloodthirsty as Astarte, and she makes an appearance as well, enabling women (so the gallery label suggests) “to be lionesses and warriors, to be advocates and change agents.” But those who read a bit closer will learn that Sekhmet’s bloodlust, according to Egyptian mythology, is in fact a result of humble obedience to her father, the male god Ra, who sent Sekhmet to do his bidding. In short, even when the goddess went on a rampage, it was because Daddy made her do it. This is no different with Taraka, the Hindu flesh-eating ogre who is also proudly featured in this exhibition.

The Egyptian goddess Isis, who compensated for Astarte’s aggression with an undeniable tenderness, also has a cameo in the show. She shows her breast to her son Horus, urging him to receive her nourishing milk. Still, the fact that much of Isis’s time is spent rehabilitating her husband/brother Osiris’s lost penis gives us quite a window into what Egyptian men felt the job of women to be. . . . In view of the sex-soaked Egyptian phallocracy, no wonder monotheistic women like Miriam shook their timbrels in celebration when they left (Exodus 15:20–21).

Read more at Comment

More about: Ancient Egypt, Assyria, Feminism, Museums, Paganism


Israel Is Courting Saudi Arabia by Confronting Iran

Most likely, it was the Israeli Air Force that attacked eastern Syria Monday night, apparently destroying a convoy carrying Iranian weapons. Yoav Limor comments:

Israel reportedly carried out 32 attacks in Syria in 2022, and since early 2023 it has already struck 25 times in the country—at the very least. . . . The Iranian-Israeli clash stands out in the wake of the dramatic events in the region, chiefly among them is the effort to strike a normalization deal between Israel and Saudi Arabia, and later on with various other Muslim-Sunni states. Iran is trying to torpedo this process and has even publicly warned Saudi Arabia not to “gamble on a losing horse” because Israel’s demise is near. Riyadh is unlikely to heed that demand, for its own reasons.

Despite the thaw in relations between the kingdom and the Islamic Republic—including the exchange of ambassadors—the Saudis remain very suspicious of the Iranians. A strategic manifestation of that is that Riyadh is trying to forge a defense pact with the U.S.; a tactical manifestation took place this week when Saudi soccer players refused to play a match in Iran because of a bust of the former Revolutionary Guard commander Qassem Suleimani, [a master terrorist whose militias have wreaked havoc throughout the Middle East, including within Saudi borders].

Of course, Israel is trying to bring Saudi Arabia into its orbit and to create a strong common front against Iran. The attack in Syria is ostensibly unrelated to the normalization process and is meant to prevent the terrorists on Israel’s northern border from laying their hands on sophisticated arms, but it nevertheless serves as a clear reminder for Riyadh that it must not scale back its fight against the constant danger posed by Iran.

Read more at Israel Hayom

More about: Iran, Israeli Security, Saudi Arabia, Syria