Ancient Iranians venerated four sacred substances - water, soil, wind, and fire - and believed that each one of these had a patron god or goddess. Anahita was the ancient Iranian goddess of fertility, abundance, marriage, and motherhood. Sometimes she was also regarded as a patroness of royalty, victory, love, and beauty. When she was viewed as a wife and mother, her symbol was usually the Moon, and when she represented the goddess of love, her symbol was Venus. In the Avesta, she is called Aradvi Sura Anahita (“Damp, Strong, and Untainted”). Anahita was often paired with Mithra. The cult of Anahita was made prominent by Artaxerxes II, when statues and temples were set up in her honor throughout the Persian Empire. Anahita was believed to bring fresh water to the earth, filling streams, rivers, and seas, and in the rituals of her worship, running water was an essential element.
|Taq-e Bostan high-relief of the investiture of Khosrow II (r. 590 to 628). The king (center) receives the ring of kingship from Mithra (right).
On the left, apparently sanctifying the investiture, stands a female figure generally assumed to be Anahita