The Canaanites were the inhabitants of what is now Palestine and actually became a general term for "all the inhabitants" of the land of ancient Israel. They were a peaceful prosperous people who worshiped both male and female deities. Their pantheon tracing back to a Mother of the Sea - Goddess Asherah and a father of the heavens - El. The worship of Goddess Asherah is no different than the myths of many ancient people who created a loving Mother they lived in unison with by respecting the tribal efforts of everyday life. In the tale of Goddess Asherah She lovingly created the land and the life that would inhabit it Her consort God El detached and distant in the heavens.
As Canaan prospered in it pagan roots of Worship, it became a great trade route to the neighboring empires. As with the times it also became a quest of possession by the same empires. Canaan as so many pagan rooted tribes was seen as a sinful, idol worshipping people steeped in temple prostitution, human sacrifice and orgies.
As the Israelites were worshipping their God Yehweh the prophet Joshua would lead them out of Egypt into the promise land of Canaan. Commanded by their God the Israelites were to destroy the evil pagan worshipers of and divide the land amongst them selves. A bloody battle began and the Philistines would become a deadly enemy of the Israelites throughout Israel's history.
Goddess Asherah’s history of worship is one of the most obscure legends of Goddess worship. The writers of the Old Testament referred to the image of Asherah as well as to “prophets” belonging to her and to vessels used in her worship.
*1 Kings 18:19
Now tell all Israel to meet me at Mt. Carmel. Also bring the 450 prophets of Baal and the 450 prophets of Asherah who eat at Jezebel’s table.
*2 Kings: 21:7
Manasseh rebuilt the Altars. He built Altars for Baal and he made an Asherah idol as King Abah of Israel had. Manassah also worshiped the stars of the sky. He practiced magick and told the future by explaining signs and dreams.
*2 Kings 23:4
He removed the Asherah idol from the temples of the Lord and took it outside Jerusalem to the Kidron Valley where he burned it and beat it into dust. He then threw the dust upon the graves of the common people.
*2 Chronicles 15:6
King Asa also removed Maacah his Grandmother, from being Queen Mother because She had made a terrible Asherah idol.
This is what you must do to those people. Tear down their Altars and smash their Holy Stone Pillars cut down their Asherah idols and burn their idols in fire.
Do not set up wooden Asherah idols next to the Altar you build for your God and so not set up Holy Stone pillars. The Lord your God hates them.
In another story from the bible, Jezebel the wife of King Ahab of Israel would go down in history as the very worst of evil for Her worship of Goddess Asherah. It is noted that She committed many atrocious crimes against those who were faithful and obedient to God, before experiencing an extremely gruesome end herself.
As a worshipper of Goddess Asherah and as Queen of Israel, she attempted to force it upon the Israelites in the most ruthless and deadly manner. As a pagan worshiper of the old ways we would expect no other tale of Her from the bible. One must consider that Her husband, King Ahab made very little effort to stop her - quite the contrary, he actually built a pagan temple for her in the capital city of Samaria and allowed 450 prophets of Her son God Baal and 400 prophets of Goddess Asherah to eat at the royal table (1 Kings 16:32, 18:19). And so it would be for 6 centuries. As marriages occurred between the tribes of old and the tribes of new, Goddess Asherah lived on between the women and men who would honor the traditions and beliefs of the other. The ruler ship of the many Kings that would rule the holy Lands dictated her worship. Her idols destroyed over and over only to be rebuilt by the people who worshiped Her in whatever manner their safety and well being allowed.
Archaeologists have found many statues of Goddess Asherah without finding a matching number of male figurines. By the early 1940s, over 300 terracotta figurines of nude goddesses had been unearthed in digs around Jerusalem supporting Her worship was an integral part of their religion.
As with all Goddess based religions it took a great deal of effort by the male-dominated priesthoods to erase Goddess worship among the common people. As the history of Canaan would change and the Hebrew bible expanded, Goddess Asherah would be mentioned several times as a companion God. Many scholars now weigh the idea of Yehweh actually having a wife? Eventually any mention of Goddess Asherah would be totally discredited from the transcriptions of the ancient writings.
As more and more information of Goddess Asherah becomes known, we know Her to be a Goddess of fertility, bringing special blessings to the family, and helping people achieve their goals and dreams. She was the Goddess worshipped by King Solomon, a King that dare worship his choosing rather than bending to the invasion of a War of men in the name of control through God. The many aspects of Goddess Asherah included Ashratum, Atharath, Astoreth, Elath, Eliat, Queen of Heaven, Lady of the Sea and She Who Gives Birth to the Gods. She has been called the mother of the Goddess Anath and Mother of Baal. It is well accepted in a time of God dominated worship it was as always the women who kept the Goddess alive. Their husband quietly accepting the faiths of their wives and the cries to their Goddess in their times of childbirth and tending the homes.
As women and daughters of Goddess we remember this lost Goddess. Though Her myths are scarce, we know Her well. She is the Maiden, Mother and Crone that has existed since the beginning. She is beautiful, taking on the face of Her people and she is the strength of Her people. She is promise of the future and She is the wisdom of the Ancestors. She is the prosperity and peace they know form living tribal in harmony and respect for each other. She is the treasured Mother Earth that sustains them and She is the blood of their life. We only need to turn within to know this Goddess man would try to erase.
As women tonight it is through us She lives. In remembering Goddess Asherah we acknowledge our voice of self and the gift we have today to be authentic .In remembering Goddess Asherah we also acknowledge how easily this can be striped from us by all who would think to program us with their thinking. As in the day of old we must recognize those who would know best for us without giving thought to who we would choose to be and we must not give that of ourselves. It is with open eyes we must take responsibility for ourselves and the magick or chaos we call forth in our life. We must know Goddess to know this truth least we surrender and forget.
As women we must remember or origins back to our primal Goddess of beginnings. In Her there is sanctuary and abundance of self. There is no true sanctuary without Her; there are only repeated patterns of disappointments. Tonight as Women we gather and celebrate the lost Goddess Asherah that we might be lost as well. Blessed Be to goddess Asherah and blessed Be to the Goddess within.