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Ayanna's Roots

« on: February 27, 2004, 01:52:40 PM »

The Descent of Inanna
Magic is the art and science of changing consciousness at will.

by John Elder

Transformation through descent into the depths is a ubiquitous myth. Many cultures have myths of death and rebirth which explain the cycles of nature and the character of the afterlife. It is "another variation of the motif of the Hero and the Dragon . . . the Katabasis, the Descent into the Cave. . . . It expresses the psychological mechanism of introversion of the conscious mind into deeper layers of the unconscious psyche" (Jung, 1968, p.41). Here we examine the myth of Inanna, one which prefigured the Babylonian myth of Ishtar and Tammuz, and the Greek myth of Persephone's kidnapping by Hades.

The Myth
The Descent of Inanna is familiar to the many contemporary [men and] women who have undertaken to journey into their own underworlds and have lived to tell the tale. That descent is a requirement of sovereignty, by which I mean the owning of one's own self and life. (Worth, 1996, p. 38)

As the myth begins, Inanna, the Queen of Heaven and Earth has already established a relationship with Enki, the God of Wisdom and Waters. He has gifted her with the fourteen me, or blessings of power, which she readily accepts, including:

Descent into the underworld! Ascent from the underworld!
The art of lovemaking! The kissing of the phallus! (Wolkstein & Kramer, p. 14, 15)

Inanna opened her ear to the moaning of her sister Ereshkigal, Queen of the Underworld and abandoned her realm of heaven and earth, even her temples, to descend into the "great below". "With the me in her possession, she prepared herself:" (Wolkstein & Kramer, p. 53) placing her crown upon her head, beads of lapis lazuli around her neck, sparkling stones fastened to her breast (Henderson & Oakes, p. 102) , a gold ring around her wrist, and a royal robe upon her body. She bound a breastplate about her chest and took a lapis measuring rod and line in her hand. Then she set out for the kur, the netherworld, with her faithful servant, Ninshubur. When she arrived at the outer gates of the kur she commanded Ninshubur to wait for three days, and if she had not returned, to call upon the elder Gods for help.

When Inanna challenged the gatekeeper to gain entry into the kur, he consulted with Ereshkigal, telling her that a giant and powerful goddess, arrayed in splendor and with signs of authority, was waiting to enter Her realm. Ereshkigal became upset, then told the gatekeeper to open each gate of the underworld a mere crack, and to remove Inanna's royal garments on her way through.

As Inanna passed through the first gate he removed her crown. At the second gate he removed her lapis beads; at the third, her sparkling stones; at the fourth, her breastplate; at the fifth, her gold ring; a the sixth, her lapis measuring rod; and at the seventh and final gate, her royal robe. Naked and disarmed, Inanna entered the throne room of her sister. Immediately, she was surrounded by the judges of the underworld, who ruled against her.

Then Ereshkigal fastened on Inanna the eye of death.
She spoke against her the word of wrath.
She uttered against her the cry of guilt.
She struck her.

Inanna was turned into a corpse,
A piece of rotting meat,
And was hung from a hook on the wall. (Wolkstein & Kramer, p. 60)

After three days, Ninshubur went to Enlil, God of Air, who refused to help, for the Underworld was not in His domain. Ninshubur went to Nanna, God of the Moon, who also refused to help, for he had no jurisdiction over the Underworld. Finally, Ninshubur went to Enki, God of Wisdom and Water, who originally blessed Inanna with the me of descent into and ascent from the kur. Enki was grieved and troubled. From under his fingernails he took dirt and created two creatures, neither male nor female, and gave them the food and water of life to carry to Inanna.

These creatures snuck into the kur like flies, slipping through the cracks in the gates. They entered the throne room and found Ereshkigal lying naked and unkempt, moaning "Oh! Oh! My inside!".

Following Enki's instructions, they also moaned "Oh! Oh! Your inside!".

Again she moaned "Ohhh! Oh! My outside!"

To which the creatures replied "Ohhh! Oh! Your outside!"

She continued to moan out her agony and they continued to name her pains back to her. Finally, she stopped moaning and blessed the creatures, offering them any gift they desired. They asked for Inanna's corpse, and revived her with the food and water of life. Inanna then arose and ascended to the upper world.

At the beginning of the myth, Inanna has been prefigured to descend into the underworld. It has already been named as her destiny by Enki. Inanna, as Queen of Heaven and Earth, represents the ego, the conscious ruler of the known psyche. And yet, it has been foreordained that she must experience the depths, that the underworld awaits her. A periodic lowering of the mood is a natural part of human existence. Life is full of cycles, and human affect is not immune from them. The healthy course is for people to experience a lowering of mood, a turning inward, a contacting of unconscious depths, and then to return to "normal" functioning. A depressed person, however, has lost the ability to return, and feels trapped in his own personal kur.

The prophesied result of Inanna's journey through the netherworld is that she will gain Truth and the Art of Lovemaking. In one translation, Inanna is frequently referred to as "the pure Inanna" (Henderson & Oakes). In her purity, she is a child of light, lacking the experience of darkness. She has no Truth, only naiveté. Without the knowledge of their own unconscious depths, a person cannot be an intimate lover. Real love, empowering intimacy, can exist only between people who have each experienced their own depths and discovered that in the depths, they each partake of the same material. This experience makes a true sharing possible. Thus, descent is a prerequisite to mastering the "Art of Lovemaking".

The descent begins when Inanna hears the moans of her sister, Ereshkigal, the Queen of the Underworld. The conscious mind hears something stirring, something related but rejected, consigned to the darkness. Ereshkigal is the shadow consciousness, that repository of everything rejected by the ego. But the shadow is more than just a collection of ego jetsam--it also includes "the insufficiently developed functions and the contents of the personal unconscious" (Jung, 1953, p. 66, note 5). The "pure" ego must be reunited with the undiscovered and rejected psychic contents in order for integration to occur. Enthralled, the ego must descend, must harken unto the cries, abandoning everything in this quest, risking all.

The descent is not made naked, however. The ego insists on defending itself with all its conscious powers. Inanna dons a crown, representing intellectual functioning, the power of "being in her head". She places a circle of beads around her neck. The circle is a symbol of eternity and of the womb--she claims the power of eternal creativity. She fastens sparkling gems to her chest, pretty, "nice", positive feelings to protect her from the underworld. She places a gold ring around her wrist, a symbol of her power to act. She takes her lapis measuring rod in her hand, her critical ability to judge. She armors herself with a breastplate for protection, and covers herself with a royal robe. The armor is whatever psychic defenses and walls a person casts up to protect themselves from others. The royal robes make a nice analogy with the persona, the ability to look good for others.

Thus arrayed, she set out for the depths.

The meeting with oneself is, at first, the meeting with one's own shadow. The shadow is a tight passage, a narrow door, whose painful constriction no one is spared who goes down to the deep well. (Jung, 1969, p. 21)

At first, Inanna cannot gain admission to the underworld. When the gatekeeper finally allows her to enter, he narrows the gates so that she must abandon all that she had depended upon for her safe journey into the underworld. At each gate she can barely squeeze through, it is almost as if she is repeating a birth process. Seven times she passes through a gate and seven times she abandons an implement of her power.

In descending into the depths, the weapons of consciousness become impediments. The work of descent cannot be done by the well fortified, but only by the vulnerable, by the helpless and disempowered. At the first gate, she must leave her intellectualizing behind. At the second gate, she must quit relying on her cleverness and creativity. At the third gate, her niceness must be surrendered. At the fourth gate, her armor; at the fifth, her ability to do; at the sixth, her critical judgement; and at the final gate, her persona is stripped away from her. She enters the underworld naked and helpless as the day she was born.

In this vulnerable state, she faces her sister, her shadow self. Unprotected in the depths, she finds herself judged and crucified, left putrifying hanging from the wall. This is the depths of depression. Self judgement and despair, everything turns to shit. Alone and in the darkness, Inanna decomposes. The depressed person is often left with a sense of hopelessness, feeling as if nothing they can do will alleviate their misery. They can only hang around in their own private hell and rot.

All is not lost, however, for Inanna's faithful servant seeks help. In depression, the person does not cease functioning. The client's mood is lowered, but they still live, still remaining conscious. Ninshubur, Inanna's servant, is that remaining consciousness, the part of the client who is willing to seek help, to take some action, no matter how small, to solve the problem. Ninshubur first goes to the Sun God, but gets no help. Power and enlightenment are not what will rescue the descended consciousness. Then, Ninshubur goes to the Moon God, and gets no help. Neither mystery nor emotion, nor even the personal unconscious can solve the situation. Finally, Ninshubur goes to Enki, God of Wisdom and the Waters.

Enki is troubled, but he has a solution. He scrapes the dirt from under his fingernails and creates from it two genderless beings to solve the problem. The solution to depression lies not in great intellectual power, nor in great emotional power. It comes from Wisdom, which encompasses all of the psychological functions. Enki takes action--and he is a God of action; note the dirt under his fingernails. He is also the God who predicted, who arranged for this situation. Wisdom accepts the descent into darkness, knows that as unpleasant as it may be, it is necessary for completion of growth.

When the beings the Enki created arrive in the underworld, they do not confront Ereshkigal in a power struggle for Inanna. Instead, they listen to her moans. They hear her pain and they name it back to her. This is the action of Wisdom. Depression begins to heal when the hidden pain is named and honored. This continues until Ereshkigal feels relief. She offers the creatures anything they desire, and they request Inanna's corpse. They revive it, and she returns to be Queen of Heaven and Earth. No longer is she pure delightful lightness, for she now knows pain and darkness. She has experienced them for herself. The Wisdom which originally orchestrated this descent into the underworld has also arranged her return. After she made the passage through the narrow doors, Inanna encountered uncertainties for which she had no preparation. All her tools had been stripped from her. But Enki, the power of Wisdom and the ability to "go with the flow", brought her through.

But one must learn to know oneself in order to know who one is. For what comes after the door is, surprisingly enough, a boundless expanse full of unprecedented uncertainty . . . it is the world of water. (Jung, 1969, p. 21)

Henderson, Joseph L. & Maud Oakes. (1963). The wisdom of the serpent: The myths of death, rebirth, and resurrection. New York: George Braziller.
Jung, Carl G. (1953). Two essays on analytical psychology. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Jung, Carl G. (1968). Analytical psychology: Its theory and practice. New York: Vintage Books.
Jung, Carl G. (1969). Archetypes and the collective unconscious. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Wolkstein, Diane & Samuel Noah Kramer. (1983). Inanna queen of heaven and earth: Her stories and hymns from Sumer. New York: Harper & Row.
Worth, Patricia. (1996). "Inanna: Godddess of transformative relationships," Sage Woman, No. 34.

Images of Inanna

Senior Member
Posts: 610


« Reply #1 on: February 27, 2004, 06:45:18 PM »

Here is one of the sexiest poems ever, from 3500BC Sumer.
"The Song of Inanna"

It is the wedding song of Inanna Queen of Heaven and Dumuzi the shepherd and husbandman.

Inanna spoke: 
"What I tell you  
Let the singer weave into song.  
What I tell you,  
Let it flow from ear to mouth,  
Let it pass from old to young: 
My vulva, the horn,  
The Boat of Heaven,  
Is full of eagerness like the young moon.  
My untilled land lies fallow. 
As for me, Inanna,  
Who will plow my vulva!  
Who will plow my high field!  
Who will plow my wet ground! 
As for me, the young woman,  
Who will plow my vulva!  
Who will station the ox there!  
Who will plow my vulva!" 

Dumuzi replied: 

"Great Lady, the king will plow your vulva. 
I, Dumuzi the King, will plow your vulva."

"Then plow my vulva, man of my heart! 
Plow my vulva!" 
At the king's lap stood the rising cedar.  
Plants grew high by their side.  
Grains grew high by their side.  
Gardens flourished luxuriantly. 
Inanna sang: 

"He has sprouted; he has burgeoned;  
He is lettuce planted by the water.  
He is the one my womb loves best. 

My well-stocked garden of the plain,  
My barley growing high in its furrow,  
My apple tree which bears fruit up to its crown,  
He is lettuce planted by the water. 

My honey-man, my honey-man sweetens me always.  
My lord, the honey-man of the gods,  
He is the one my womb loves best.  
His hand is honey, his foot is honey,  
He sweetens me always. 

My eager impetuous caresser of the navel,  
My caresser of the soft thighs,  
He is the one my womb loves best,  
He is lettuce planted by the water."

Dumuzi sang: 
"O Lady, your breast is your field.  
Inanna, your breast is your field.  
Your broad field pours out plants.  
Your broad field pours out grain.  
Water flows from on high for your servant.  
Bread flows from on high for your servant.  
Pour it out for me, Inanna.  
I will drink all you offer." 

Inanna sang: 

"Make your milk sweet and thick, my bridegroom.  
My shepherd, I will drink your fresh milk.  
Wild bull, Dumuzi, make your milk sweet and thick.  
I will drink your fresh milk. 

Let the milk of the goat flow in my sheepfold.  
Fill my holy churn with honey cheese.  
Lord Dumuzi, I will drink your fresh milk. 

My husband, I will guard my sheepfold for you.  
I will watch over your house of life, the storehouse,  
The shining quivering place which delights Sumer— 
The house which decides the fates of the land,  
The house which gives the breath of life to the people.  
I, the queen of the palace, will watch over your house."
Dumuzi spoke: 
"My sister, I would go with you to my garden.  
Inanna I would go with you to my garden.  
I would go with you to my orchard.  
I would go with you to my apple tree. 
There I would plant the sweet, honey-covered seed." 

Inanna spoke: 

"He brought me into his garden. 
My brother, Dumuzi, brought me into his garden.  
I strolled with him among the standing trees,  
I stood with him among the fallen trees,  
By an apple tree I knelt as is proper. 

Before my brother coming in song,  
Who rose to me out of the poplar leaves,  
Who came to me in the midday heat,  
Before my lord Dumuzi,  
I poured out plants from my womb.  
I placed plants before him,  
I poured out plants before him.  
I placed grain before him,  
I poured out grain before him.  
I poured out grain from my womb."
Inanna sang: 
"Last night as I, the queen, was shining bright,  
Last night as I, the Queen of Heaven, was shining bright,  
As I was shining bright and dancing,  
Singing praises at the coming of the night-- 
He met me--he met me!  
My lord Dumuzi met me.  
He put his hand into my hand.  
He pressed his neck close against mine. 
My high priest is ready for the holy loins.  
My lord Dumuzi is ready for the holy loins.  
The plants and herbs in his field are ripe.  
O Dumuzi! Your fullness is my delight!" 

She called for it, she called for it, she called for the bed!  
She called for the bed that rejoices the heart.  
She called for the bed that sweetens the loins.  
She called for the bed of kingship.  
She called for the bed of queenship. 
Inanna called for the bed: 
"Let the bed that rejoices the heart be prepared!  
Let the bed that sweetens the loins be prepared!  
Let the bed of kingship be prepared!  
Let the bed of queenship be prepared!  
Let the royal bed be prepared!" 

Inanna spread the bridal sheet across the bed. 
She called to the king: 
"The bed is ready!"  
She called to her bridegroom: 
"The bed is waiting!" 

He put his hand in her hand.  
He put his hand to her heart.  
Sweet is the sleep of hand-to-hand.  
Sweeter still the sleep of heart-to-heart.
Inanna spoke: 
"I bathed for the wild bull,  
I bathed for the shepherd Dumuzi,  
I perfumed my sides with ointment,  
I coated my mouth with sweet-smelling amber,  
I painted my eyes with kohl.

He shaped my loins with his fair hands,  
The shepherd Dumuzi filled my lap with cream and milk, 
He stroked my pubic hair, He watered my womb. 
He laid his hands on my holy vulva,  
He smoothed my black boat with cream,  
He quickened my narrow boat with milk,  
He caressed me on the bed. 
Now I will caress my high priest on the bed,  
I will caress the faithful shepherd Dumuzi,  
I will caress his loins, the shepherdship of the land,  
I will decree a sweet fate for him." 

The Queen of Heaven,  
The heroic woman, greater than her mother,  
Who was presented the me by Enki,  
Inanna, the First Daughter of the Moon,  
Decreed the fate of Dumuzi: 

"In battle I am your leader,  
In combat I am your armor-bearer,  
In the assembly I am your advocate,  
On the campaign I am your inspiration.  
You, the chosen shepherd of the holy shrine,  
You, the king, the faithful provider of Uruk,  
You, the light of An's great shrine,  
In all ways you are fit: 

To hold your head high on the lofty dais,  
To sit on the lapis lazuli throne,  
To cover your head with the holy crown,  
To wear long clothes on your body,  
To bind yourself with the garments of kingship,  
To carry the mace and sword,  
To guide straight the long bow and arrow,  
To fasten the throw-stick and sling at your side,  
To race on the road with the holy sceptre in your hand,  
And the holy sandals on your feet,  
To prance on the holy breast like a lapis lazuli calf. 

You, the sprinter, the chosen shepherd,  
In all ways you are fit. 
May your heart enjoy long days. 

That which An has determined for you--may it not be altered.  
That which Enlil has granted--may it not be changed.  
You are the favorite of Ningal.  
Inanna holds you dear."

Ninshubur, the faithful servant of the holy shrine of Uruk,  
Led Dumuzi to the sweet thighs of Inanna and spoke:  
"My queen, here is the choice of your heart,  
The king, your beloved bridegroom. 
May he spend long days in the sweetness of your holy loins.  
Give him a favorable and glorious reign.  
Grant him the king's throne, firm in its foundations.  
Grant him the shepherd's staff of judgment.  
Grant him the enduring crown with the radiant and noble diadem. 
From where the sun rises to where the sun sets,  
From south to north,  
From the Upper Sea to the Lower Sea,  
From the land of the huluppu-tree to the land of the cedar,  
Let his shepherd's staff protect all of Sumer and Akkad. 
As the farmer, let him make the fields fertile,  
As the shepherd, let him make the sheepfolds multiply,  
Under his reign let there be vegetation,  
Under his reign let there be rich grain. 
In the marshland may the fish and birds chatter,  
In the canebrake may the young and old reeds grow high,  
In the steppe may the mashgur-trees grow high,  
In the forests may the deer and wild goats multiply,  
In the orchards may there be honey and wine, 
In the gardens may the lettuce and cress grow high,  
In the palace may there be long life. 
May there be floodwater in the Tigris and Euphrates,  
May the plants grow high on their banks and fill the meadows,  
May the Lady of Vegetation pile the grain in heaps and mounds. 
O my Queen of Heaven and Earth,  
Queen of all the universe,  
May he enjoy long days in the sweetness of your holy loins." 

The king went with lifted head to the holy loins.  
He went with lifted head to the loins of Inanna.  
He went to the queen with lifted head. 
He opened wide his arms to the holy priestess of heaven.
Inanna spoke: 
"My beloved, the delight of my eyes, met me.  
We rejoiced together.  
He took his pleasure of me.  
He brought me into his house. 
He laid me down on the fragrant honey-bed.  
My sweet love, lying by my heart,  
Tongue-playing, one by one,  
My fair Dumuzi did so fifty times. 
Now, my sweet love is sated. 
Now he says: 
'Set me free, my sister, set me free.  
You will be a little daughter to my father.  
Come, my beloved sister, I would go to the palace. 
Set me free...'" 

Inanna spoke: 

"My blossom-bearer, your allure was sweet.  
My blossom-bearer in the apple orchard,  
My bearer of fruit in the apple orchard,  
Dumuzi-abzu, your allure was sweet. 

My fearless one,  
My holy statue,  
My statue outfitted with sword and lapis lazuli diadem,  
How sweet was your allure...."

The story goes that Inanna was not always so pleased with him. After she returned from her descent to the Underworld she found Dumuzi on her throne, having the time of his life, apparently having forgotten all about her.

Well no one returns from the underworld journey unchanged, and no sweet words from him could calm her fury. She proclaimed that it was his turn to go to the Underworld, only he would never be allowed to return. Only the intercession of Dumuzi's sister Gestinanna saved him. Gestinanna would descend in his place for half the year, and so for half the year he could assume his place by his wife Inanna's side. It is really best not to mess with the Goddess!
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