Goddess of Phoenicia, Judah, Egypt, Ugarit and Syria
Astarte was connected with fertility, sexuality, and war. Her symbols were the lion, the horse, the sphinx, the dove, and a star within a circle indicating the planet Venus. Pictorial representations often show her naked.
Other major centers of Astarte's worship were Sidon, Tyre, and Byblos. Coins from Sidon portray achariot in which a globe appears, presumably a stone representing Astarte. In Sidon, she shared a temple with Eshmun. Coins from Beirut show Poseidon, Astarte, and Eshmun worshipped together
Other faith centers were Cythera, Malta, and Eryx in Sicily from which she became known to theRomans as Venus Erycina. A bilingual inscription on the Pyrgi Tablets dating to about 500 BC found near Caere in Etruria equates Astarte with Etruscan Uni-Astre that is, Juno. At Carthage Astarte was worshipped alongside the goddess Tanit.
Donald Harden in The Phoenicians discusses a statuette of Astarte from Tutugi (Galera) nearGranada in Spain dating to the 6th or 7th century BC in which Astarte sits on a throne flanked by sphinxes holding a bowl beneath her pierced breasts. A hollow in the statue would have been filled withmilk through the head and gentle heating would have melted wax plugging the holes in her breasts, producing an apparent miracle when the milk emerged.
Astarte in Ugarit
Astarte appears in Ugaritic texts under the name ‘Athtart', but is little mentioned in those texts. ‘Athtart and ‘Anat together hold back Ba‘al from attacking the other deities. Astarte also asks Ba‘al to "scatter"Yamm "Sea" after Ba‘al's victory. ‘Athtart is called the "Face of Ba‘al".
Astarte in Egypt
Astarte arrived in Ancient Egypt during the 18th dynasty along with other deities who were worshipped by northwest Semitic people. She was especially worshipped in her aspect as a warrior goddess, often paired with the goddess Anat.
In the Contest Between Horus and Set, these two goddesses appear as daughters of Ra and are given in marriage to the god Set, here identified with the Semitic name Hadad. Astarte also was identified with the lioness warrior goddess Sekhmet, but seemingly more often conflated, at least in part, with Isis to judge from the many images found of Astarte suckling a small child. Indeed there is a statue of the 6th century BC in the Cairo Museum, which normally would be taken as portraying Isis with her child Horus on her knee and which in every detail of iconography follows normal Egyptian conventions, but the dedicatory inscription reads: "Gersaphon, son of Azor, son of Slrt, man of Lydda, for his Lady, for Astarte." See G. Daressy, (1905) pl. LXI (CGC 39291).
Plutarch, in his On Isis and Osiris, indicates that the King and Queen of Byblos, who, unknowingly, have the body of Osiris in a pillar in their hall, are Melcarthus (i.e. Melqart) and Astarte (though he notes some instead call the Queen Saosis or Nemanūs, which Plutarch interprets as corresponding to the Greek name Athenais)[dubious ].
Astarte in Phoenicia
In the description of the Phoenician pantheon ascribed to Sanchuniathon, Astarte appears as a daughter of Sky and Earth and sister of the GodEl. After El overthrows and banishes his father Sky, as some kind of trick Sky sends to El his "virgin daughter" Astarte along with her sistersAsherah and the goddess who will later be called Ba`alat Gebal, "the Lady of Byblos". It seems that this trick does not work, as all three become wives of their brother El. Astarte bears to El children who appear under Greek names as seven daughters called the Titanides orArtemides and two sons named Pothos "Longing" and Eros "Desire".
Later we see, with El's consent, Astarte and Hadad reigning over the land together. Astarte, puts the head of a bull on her own head to symbolize Her sovereignty. Wandering through the world Astarte takes up a star that has fallen from the sky (meteorite) and consecrates it at Tyre.
Astarte in Judah
Ashtoreth is mentioned in the Hebrew Bible as a foreign, non-Judahite goddess, the principal goddess of the Sidonians or Phoenicians, representing the productive power of nature. It is generally accepted that the Masoretic "vowel pointing" adopted ca. 135 AD, indicating the pronunciation ʻAštōreṯ ("Ashtoreth," "Ashtoret") is a deliberate distortion of "Ashtart", and that this is probably because the two last syllables have been pointed with the vowels belonging to bōšeṯ, ("bosheth," abomination), to indicate that that word should be substituted when reading. The plural form is pointed ʻAštārōṯ ("Ashtaroth"). The biblical Ashtoreth should not be confused with the goddess Asherah, the form of the names being quite distinct, and both appearing quite distinctly in the Book of 1st Kings. The biblical writers may, however, have conflated some attributes and titles of the two, as seems to have occurred throughout the 1st millennium Levant. For instance, the title "Queen of heaven" as mentioned in Jeremiah has been connected with both. (In later Jewish mythology, she became a female demon of lust; for what seems to be the use of the Hebrew plural form ʻAštārōṯ in this sense, see Astaroth).
Some ancient sources assert that in the territory of Sidon the temple of Astarte was sacred to Europa. According to an old Cretan story, Europa was a Phoenician princess whom Zeus transformed into a white bull, abducted, and carried to Crete.
Some scholars claim that the cult of the Minoan snake goddess who is identified with Ariadne (the "utterly pure")  was similar to the cult of Astarte.Her cult as Aphrodite was transmitted to Cythera and then to Greece. Herodotus wrote that the religious community of Aphrodite originated in Phoenicia and came to Greeks from there. He also wrote about the world's largest temple of Aphrodite, in one of the Phoenician cities. Her name is the second name in an energy chant sometimes used in Wicca: "Isis, Astarte, Diana, Hecate, Demeter, Kali, Inanna.
Ashtart (either "the Star", or "She of the Womb"), is better known by the name Astarte, the Greek version of Her name. Ashtart is a Semitic Goddess of Love and War and the Canaanite Great Goddess who is the cult partner of Ba'al ("the King"). Semitic describes a group of languages, and by extension, kindred cultures of the Near East and Africa which include Phoenician, Arabic, Hebrew and Assyrian. She is the Deity of the Planet Venus and a Fertility Goddess, and Her cult was known throughout the ancient world for its practice of temple prostitution. She was the main Deity of the cities Sor (more familiarly Tyre), Zidon (Sidon) and Gubla (Byblos), and is frequently shown as an archer either beside or standing on a lion, much like the Babylonian Ishtar, who is quite similar. Snakes and the cypress tree are sacred to Her; and, like the related Arabic Goddess Al-Uzza, whose name, "the Mighty One", is an epithet of Ashtart, the acacia tree is also Hers.
As with many of the other Near Eastern Goddesses of the planet Venus, two of Her aspects are that of the Goddess of War and the Goddess of Love. As Venus the Morning Star, Ashtart is a Goddess of War and Hunting; and as the Evening Star, She is the Goddess of Love, Sex, Fertility and Vitality, depicted as a nude woman. In Her role as Goddess of Love She was honored with sexual rites, especially in the city of Sidon or Zidon, and some of Her priests and priestesses there were chosen from the royal family.
In the legends of Ugarit (the modern Ras Shamra on the coast of Syria) of the 14th century BCE, Ashtart is mentioned with the virgin Warrior-Goddess Anath (Anat) as restraining the young God Ba'al, who wishes to overthrow the River God, Yam. When Yam is taken captive, Ba'al kills him, and Ashtart rebukes him for the murder, cursing Him with His own name. She is sometimes called "Ashtart-Name-of-Ba'al" which may refer to Her magical knowledge of His secret name in which His power resides; the idea of a secret or cult name of a Deity, known only to the initiated, was not uncommon in the area: Jehovah is supposed to possess a secret name of power, uttered by Lilith when She left the Garden; and in a legend of Isis, the great Egyptian Goddess, She brings about the downfall of the aging God Ra by speaking his hidden name.
Several gold pendants from Ugarit, dating to about 1300 BCE depict Ashtart in a highly stylized manner. From a flat gold plate, roughly teardrop-shaped, Her face and breasts emerge; and Her pubic area is depicted as a triangle with dots, I assume representing hair. There is also, however, what appears to be a stylized tree "growing" from that triangle and which ends just below Her navel. This "tree" is perhaps to be equated with the Near Eastern Tree of Life.
Ashtart was worshipped with the young God 'Adon, son of Malidthu, in the town of Aphek or Aphaca in Palestine, the modern Afka. 'Adon is a title, rather than a name (as is common among the Phoenicians) meaning "Lord", and He may actually be Eshmun, the young God of Health. The site of the town Aphek was known for its stunning beauty, as it was situated high on a cliff from which a river issued to fall in a great torrent. Under the Greek name Adonis (which also means "Lord"), He was a young and very beautiful God with whom Aphrodite (the Greek equivalant of Athtart) fell in love. Alas, one day while out hunting He was killed by a boar and the Goddess mourned terribly for Him. He represents the young vegetation/crops that are killed in the droughts of the dry season, and the river at Aphek was said to run red with His blood in the rainy season. He had a famous festival in midsummer celebrating His death and resurrection that eventually spread with His worship to Greece, Egypt and Rome, and which was celebrated primarily by women.
For some time Ashtart under the name Ashtoreth seems to have been worshipped side by side with the Hebrew God as His consort; He was early on called Ba'al, a general title meaning "Lord", used in the area to refer to each people's particular patron God, though their real (and sometimes secret) names were different. This fell out of favor in time as the Hebrews transitioned to monotheism. Apparently they had a hard time with this, though, as Jehovah is forever chiding His people for "backsliding" and returning to the worship of Ba'al and Ashtoreth. Ashtoreth in the Bible is worshipped in groves called after Her asherah and may have been honored as a pillar of wood, or as manifest in the grove itself. In one tale from the Biblical book Judges, Jehovah has Gideon destroy his own father's shrines to Ba'al and Ashtoreth, which he does in the middle of the night under cover of darkness, as he was too scared of the repercussions to do it in broad daylight.
King Solomon, famous for his great wisdom, was said to have had 700 wives, many of whom were from neighboring, Pagan, tribes. To accommodate their religions, he built for them temples to their Gods, including a sanctuary to Ashtart in Jerusalem. Jehovah, known far and wide for His jealousy, couldn't tolerate this and brought about Solomon's death. On other occasions when the Hebrews reverted to the old religion, Jehovah in a divine fit of pique "gave them over into the hands of their enemies" (also from Judges).
Ashtart also had temples in Ascalon in Philistia, about 40 miles southwest of Jerusalem, and Beth-shean, or Scythopolis, near the Sea of Galilee. She is also said to be the mother of the maiden Yabarodmay, by Ba'al.
The Goddess Athirat-of-the-Sea, who also features in the Ba'al legend, is the wife of El, the Father of the Gods; She has much in common with Ashtart and the two may be aspects of the same Goddess. Some sources make Athirat the Goddess worshipped by the Hebrews as Jehovah's consort; the two are quite confused, both by modern scholars and the ancients.
Ashtart's name has many variations depending on the language or city in which She was worshipped. Some examples: She is Astarte to the Greeks, Ashtoreth or Ashtaroth among the Hebrews, 'Attart or 'Athtart in the city of Ugarit, Astartu in Akkadian.
Epithets: "Goddess of Heaven", "Ashtart-Name-of-Ba'al", "Ashtart-of-the-Sky-of-Ba'al", "the Strong One", "Ashtart-of-the-Fields", "Ashtart-of-the-Battle"; and Kbd, "Glory"
She is the western Semitic equivilant of the Eastern Semitic Inanna of the Sumerians andIshtar of the Babylonians; the Greeks identified Her with their Aphrodite, who may have Her origins in Ashtart anyway, as She was believed to have come from the East.Atargatis is confused or equated with Her, and may have originally been the same Goddess; Ba'alat, "the Lady" of Gubla (Byblos) is likely a title for Ashtart. She was equated by the Etruscans with their Mother and Sky Goddess Uni, and is related to Tanitof Carthage.