Astghik,or Astlik/Asya, (Armenian: Աստղիկ) was worshiped as the Armenian pagan deity of fertility and love from prehistoric times, later the skylight had been considered her personification, and was the wife or lover of Vahagn. In the later heathen period she became the goddess of love, maidenly beauty, and water sources and springs.
The Vartavar festival devoted to Astghik, celebrated in mid July was transformed into the Christian holiday of the Transfiguration of Christ, and is still celebrated by the Armenians 90 days after Easter (Zatik). As in pre-Christian times, on the day of this fest the people release doves and sprinkle water on each other with wishes of health and good luck. This was meant as an act of sympathetic magic, hoping that pouring water on one another would prompt Astghik to bring rain and drench everyone. While deprived of its original meaning, it is impossible to walk outside in Armenia on that day without being drenched by young pranksters, or older people with a sense of humor. Today it is celebrated the traditional way by Armenian Neopaganism; neopagan priests give sermons at the Temple of Garni hoping for Astghik to bless Armenia with rain during the hot summer season, sprinkle the audience with rose water, and hand out wine and apricots as the audience dances and celebrates.
While Aramazd, the father of all deities, the creator of heaven and earth, (the sun being worshiped as his personification) and Anahit that had been worshiped as Great Lady and Mother Deity (the moon being worshiped as her personification), she forms an astral trinity in the pantheon of Armenian heathen deities. In the period of Hellenistic influence, Astghik became similar to the Greek Aphrodite and the Mesopotamian Ishtar.
Her name is the diminutive of Armenian աստղ astġ, meaning "star", which through Proto-Indo-European *h₂stḗr is cognateto Sanskrit stṛ, Avestan star, Pahlavi star, Persian sitara´, Pashto storai, Latin and Italian stella and astro, French astre, Spanish astro, German stern, English star, etc.
Her principal seat was in Ashtishat (Taron), located to the North from Mush, where her chamber was dedicated to the name of Vahagn, the personification of a sun-god, her lover or husband according to popular tales, and had been named "Vahagn's bedroom".
Other temples and places of worship of Astghik had been located in various towns and villages, such as the mountain of Palaty (to the South-West from Lake Van), in Artamet (12 km from Van), etc. Tsitsernakaberd (swallow fortress in Armenian), currently the site of a memorial to the Armenian genocide located in the city of Yerevan, was also once one of Astghik's temples. These temples were destroyed with the coming of Christianity.
The unique monuments of prehistoric Armenia, "višap" vishaps (Arm. višap 'serpent, dragon') or "dragon stones", spread in many provinces of historical Armenia – Gegharkunik, Aragatsotn, Javakhk, Tayk, etc., and are another manifestation of her worship.
Popular Myths Edit
There is a legend that Astghik used to come to Earth to bathe in a river in Western Armenia. Men would hide in the bushes to try to catch a glimpse of her beautiful naked form. Astghik was a bashful goddess however, and caused mist to shroud the area, hiding her body. This area was then called Mush, Armenian for mist.