Back in the Dark Ages when I was working on my dissertation on Asherah, web research had not been born, or even conceived. Its parents might not have even met yet at that stage! When Gorgias Press decided to print a second edition of my book on the goddess a couple of years back, I utilized the opportunity to peruse the web to find out where the old girl is these days.
It seems that Asherah worship is alive and well, according to the internet. I suspect that the ancients would be scratching their heads — and not just because of the omnipresent lice — at the ways she is portrayed these days. The matronly bearer of the gods of Ugarit is a lithe and whimsical girl, walking on the water just like so many other ancient divine figures. She has become a patroness of witches and is identified with any number of pet causes. She is chic, sexy, and alluring.
Unfortunately, what we know of the actual goddess is quite a bit less exciting than all that. Asherah is best attested at Ugarit, a city on the northern coast of Syria that has been extinct for 3000 years. Here she is matronly, passive, and interested in doing the laundry. Her role in the mythology is small, despite being the mother of the gods. She does become notorious in the Hebrew Bible and still has the power to inspire the “bad girl” dreams of many a rebellious youth. She is a fascinating figure — some pundits even think she might have been the main squeeze of someone very high on the spiritual food chain!
Perhaps this is one of those “disconnects” that pop-up like toadstools during a wet and rainy summer. Technology has outstripped reality. A goddess once feared and revered as the ancestor of the gods has become a pin-up girl in a digital era. If a mirror could be held up to time itself, I’m not sure that Asherah would recognize herself even if she long gazed into it.