Anath, a Semitic war goddess, is also known as Anat, but I prefer the former spelling because it’s pretty close to my own name. She is described as the sister and possible consort of Ba’al and the daughter of El. “Ba’al” is a word meaning “lord,” used to refer to many different Semitic gods, but THE Ba’al is a storm god also called Hadad. “Hadad” or “Haddad,” by the way, is now the most common surname in Lebanon. While Anath is often called “the Virgin,” some myths make her the mother of seventy-seven of Hadad’s children, suggesting that her reputation might not be as spotless as some might like you to think. She was worshipped as a fertility goddess, but most of the information we have about her involves her warlike nature.
In her bloodlust, she killed many enemies of Ba’al, including some of the primordial chaotic gods. When Ba’al was thought to be dead, she killed, burned, and ground up the body of the death god who was thought to have been Hadad’s killer. Wikipedia reports, “In a fragmentary passage from Ugarit (modern Ras Shamra), Syria, ‘Anat appears as a fierce, wild and furious warrior in a battle, wading knee-deep in blood, striking off heads, cutting off hands, binding the heads to her torso and the hands in her sash, driving out the old men and townsfolk with her arrows, her heart filled with joy.” Sounds like someone you don’t want to cross, and also someone who don’t want to argue with when she claims to be a virgin. Another story involving Anath has her being envious of the bow belonging to a mortal named Aqhat. She tries to use force to steal the bow, but accidentally kills Aqhat, and he takes the bow to the afterlife with him. Anath regrets her action, but the rest of this story remains unknown.
Picture by Thalia Took
Although perhaps not widely known today (I actually just recently found out about her on Godchecker), Anath was rather popular in her day, and her worship spread to Egypt during the time of the Hyksos rulers. Ramses II saw Anath as his personal guardian in battle, and named his daughter Bint-Anath.
Apparently this daughter later became his wife, but whether there was any actual incest involved is unclear. We can hope it was just a weird political move, but who knows? “Bint,” by the way, is British slang for a whore, so draw your own conclusions there. Actually, it appears that the word simply meant “girl” or “daughter” in Egypt, but the British adopted it in the late nineteenth century and gave it its present pejorative meaning. Getting back to the goddess, the Biblical book of Judges mentions a tribal ruler called Shamgar, son of Anath. Whether this is an archaic reference implying he’s a demigod or he’s just the son of some ordinary human named Anath isn’t something we really know. Apparently Anat is a fairly common woman’s name in modern Israel.