The Element Encyclopedia of Witchcraft: The Complete A-Z for the Entire Magical World - Judika Illes 2005
Cakes for The Queen of Heaven
Food and Drink
Cake is among the most primeval traditional offerings made to female deities including Aphrodite, Artemis, Lady Asherah of the Sea, Astarte, Diana, Hecate, and Inanna-Ishtar. The blini offered to Baba Yaga may be understood to derive from this tradition. Specific ritual cakes were created for specific deities:
Triangle-shaped honey-cakes, representing female genitalia, were offered to Aphrodite
Round cakes lit with miniature torches intended to represent the glowing moon were offered to Artemis and Diana
In the grimoire Aradia or the Gospel of the Witches, the term “Cakes for the Queen of Heaven” is used to describe crescent-shaped cakes blessed in the name of Diana.
In the Middle East, archeologists have uncovered ancient cake molds used to create cakes in the shape of the goddess herself. These molds are similar to modern cake, chocolate or candle molds and could be used to form multiple cakes of uniform appearance. Anthropologists believe these molds were used to bake cakes for the Queen of Heaven.
The Queen of Heaven generally refers to the supreme Mesopotamian deity Inanna-Ishtar; in the Babylonian version of the Deluge, the rainbow that serves as the Creator’s reminder not to cause another flood is really Inanna-Ishtar’s necklace.
Offerings of cakes were incorporated into Inanna-Ishtar’s rites. Ironically, the most lucid, detailed surviving information regarding ritual baking and offering of cakes derives from the biblical book of Jeremiah. Offering cakes to the Queen of Heaven was a family affair. In Jeremiah 7:18, the prophet reports that he heard the voice of God complain that “the children gather wood, and the fathers kindle the fire and the women knead their dough to make cakes to the Queen of Heaven…”
Offering cakes seems to have been incorporated into ritual alongside burning incense and pouring libations. In Jeremiah 44, the prophet discovers a community of exiled Jews in Egypt, burning incense, pouring libations and offering cakes to the Queen of Heaven. He rebukes them, singling out the women.
Typically the Old Testament records complaints against those who deviate from extreme monotheism but fails to record opposing arguments. Unusually, in this case the Bible recounts the women’s response to Jeremiah (44:16-19): they are not compliant. “As for the word that thou hast spoken unto us in the name of the Lord, we will not hearken unto thee” they say, explaining that when they offered to the Queen of Heaven “…then had we plenty of victuals, and were well and saw no evil. But since we left off to burn incense to the Queen of Heaven…we have wanted all things and have been consumed by the sword and by the famine.” The women also reject Jeremiah’s attempts to identify this practice as a women’s cult, pointing out “…did we make her cakes to worship her…without our men?”
Unfortunately, the Bible is vague regarding exactly which spirit it describes as the Queen of Heaven—whether it is Inanna-Ishtar, Astarte (who may or may not be identical to Inanna-Ishtar), Anat (who may or may not be identical to Astarte) or Asherah (ditto).
See CREATIVE ARTS: Dance: Dance of the Seven Veils; ERGOT: Corn Mother: Anat.