Along with her political influence, Ishtar’s role as a liminal deity gave her unique authority over the cultural roles and boundaries of Mesopotamian societies as well.
Corresponding to Ishtar’s own ability to transcend categories, the goddess of love enabled her followers to defy or even redefine social boundaries, particularly those related to gender roles.
Men who became priests of Ishtar, known as gala, would sometimes assume non-binary gender roles, dress in women’s clothing, and were allowed to engage in homosexuality. Mesopotamian societies even depended on Ishtar for their main source of food, agriculture.
As the goddess of thunderstorms and protector of storehouses, farmers prayed to Ishtar for the rain that helped water their crops, and implored her for a bountiful harvest.