Interpretation of Inanna’s Descent Myth
Because of Her relation to the storehouse, which eventually covered wool, meat and . Therefore, Inanna and Ereshkigal are bonded to each other, and their. In Mesopotamian mythology, Ereshkigal was the goddess of Kur, the land of the dead or underworld. The connection between Ereshkigal of the Great Below, the unconscious, and Inanna, of the Great Above, the conscious, has been established.
Enki sends two sexless beings down to the Underworld to revive Inanna with the food and water of life. The sexless beings escort Inanna up from the Underworld, but a horde of angry demons follow Inanna back up from the Underworld, demanding to take someone else down to the Underworld as Inanna's replacement.
When Inanna discovers that her husband, Dumuzidhas not mourned her death, she becomes ireful towards him and orders the demons to take Dumuzid as her replacement. Once, the gods held a banquet that Ereshkigal, as queen of the Underworld, could not come up to attend. They invited her to send a messenger, and she sent her vizier Namtar in her place. He was treated well by all, but for the exception of being disrespected by Nergal. As a result of this, Nergal was banished to the kingdom controlled by the goddess.
Versions vary at this point, but all of them result in him becoming her husband. Interpretation of myths[ edit ] It is theorized[ who? The addition of Nergal represents the harmonizing tendency to unite Ereshkigal as the queen of the Underworld with the god who, as god of war and of pestilence, brings death to the living and thus becomes the one who presides over the dead.
My mistress abandoned heaven, abandoned earth, and descended to the underworld. When Ereshkigal receives this news, she is not at all pleased, and ordered that the seven gates of the Underworld be bolted against her sister.
Inanna is only allowed to pass one gate at a time, and before each gate, she is required to remove a piece of her royal garment. Cylinder seal depicting the descent of Inanna. The Oriental Institute, University of Chicago By the time Inanna reaches the throne room of Ereshkigal, she had been stripped naked, and was powerless. Prior to entering the Underworld, Inanna had instructed her servant Ninshubur on how to come to her aid should she fail to return at the expected time.
Whilst Inanna was successfully revived by the servants sent by her father, she is unable to leave the Underworld as easily as she entered it. Inanna now wishes to leave, but no one ascends from the Underworld unmarked. A part of Inanna must stay in the Depths too. Thus, She has to find someone to replace her. In other words, from now on Inanna cannot leave Ereshkigal neglected or abandoned. A passageway between the Great Above and the Great Below must be kept open.
Who should replace Inanna in the Underworld? The one closest to her heart, who nevertheless did not miss her at all during the three days of her ordeal in the Underworld, acting as Inanna had not been lost to Middle and Upperworlds for three days. Dumuzi, Inanna's consort in the Sacred Marriage, the Shepherd and King, was the only person who did not mourn for Her while She was undergoing her Underworld initiation.
The land and the people cried for the Lady, but Dumuzi did not notice Her absence at all.
Inanna - Wikipedia
The meaning of this bitter choice lies in the fact that Dumuzi needed to undergo his own Underworld initiation to learn about reciprocation, self-sacrifice and love that goes beyond death itself. It is important to point out that Ereshkigal was mourning the loss of her husband, Gugulanna, at that time too.
- Inanna and Ereshkigal
Perhaps only Dumuzi, Inanna's partner, could heal Ereshkigal's better than anyone else. Secondly, Dumuzi had also to learn to bow low and forget his dellusions of self-importance. Indeed, He had to undertake his own journey of Inner Transformation so that he could be the Chosen of the Goddess and King of the Land in full measure. There is another element of wholeness in the Descent of Inanna, and this lies in the fact that Dumuzi, a mortal man, does not undertake the Underworld initiation for the whole humankind alone.
Throughout the myth of Inanna, of which the Descent is only one chapter, there is a wonderful interplay of male and female energies. Thus, the Inanna and her Soul-Sister Ereshkigal would not accept only a male as their sole initiates to represent humanity. A mortal woman called Geshtinanna, Dumuzi's sister, who is full of compassion and understanding enters the scene. Geshtinanna mourns for her brother and king, and thus touches Inanna's heart.
Inanna then decides that half the year Dumuzi will go to the Underworld, and the other half Geshtinanna will take his place. While Dumuzi ascends, Geshtinanna descends, when she goes up to the Heights of the Middleworld, Dumuzi descends to meet Ereshkigal.
Therefore, two mortals, a man and a woman, are made imortals and initiates of both Inanna and Ereshkigal. At the end of the myth, Inanna takes the hands of both Dumuzi and Geshtinanna and places them on the hands of Ereshkigal. She went down to the bowels of the Earth in a true initiatory journey, because She wanted to Know and so She Willed, Dared and Surrendered to the Process of Becoming, leaving behind who She thought She was.
And why did She do that? We may ask ourselves. And at the second gate Inanna had to surrender her jeweled anklets - which the wise say means giving up Ego. And at the third gate She surrendered her robe, which is the hardest of all, because it means giving up Mind itself. And at the fourth Gate Ishtar surrendered her golden breastcups, which is giving up Sex role. And at the fifth gate She surrendered her necklace, which is giving up the rapture of Illumination.
And at the sixth Gate she surrendered her earrings, which is giving up Magick. And finally, at the seventh gate, Inanna surrendered her thousand petalled crown, which is giving up Goddesshead. It was only thus, naked, that Inanna could enter Eternity. Her writings combine spirituality and deep devotion to Inanna in special, as well as a political agenda within the context of the emerging Sargonid Empire that is based on the ideal of a united and strong land for Sumer and Akkad.
A new anthology of Texts and Pictures, edited by James A. Pritchard, - also known as The Exhaltation of Inanna, first translated from the cuneiform by Hallo and van Dijk in This is the most widely known work by Enheduanna, containing about lines. It is carefully set up in a format of two column stanzas that can often be read down as well as across.
The hymn begins with the description of the powers of Inanna naming Her by a myriad of epithets, where the goddess is hailed as equal to An, the Skyfather and senior Mesopotamian god, in power and authority.
The Descent of Inanna into the Underworld: A 5,500-Year-Old Literary Masterpiece
Hallo suggests that when Enheduanna implies Inanna's equality with An, she is in actual fact suggesting that the kings of the Sargonid dynasty haved adhered to the Sumerian norms and beliefs, having therefore achieved legitimacy to rule over Sumer and Akkad. Next Enheduanna depicts Inanna as disciplining mankind as a goddess of battle.
She thereby unites the warlike Akkadian Ishtar's qualities to those of the gentler Sumerian goddess of love and fecundity. She likens Inanna to a great storm bird who swoops down on the lesser gods and sends them fluttering off like surprised bats.
Then, in probably the most interesting part of the hymn, Enheduanna herself steps forward in the first person to recite her achievements, establishing her credibility, and explaining her present plight. She has been banished as high priestess from the temple in the city of Ur and from Uruk and exiled to the steppe. She begs the moon god Nanna to intercede for her because the city of Uruk, under the ruler Lugalanne, has rebelled against Sargon. The rebel, Lugalanne, a generic name for the local ruler, has even attempted to destroy the temple Eanna, in Uruk, one of the greatest temples in the ancient world.
Further, he has dared to equate himself as an equal to the new high priestess and --in the most ancient recorded instant of sexual harassment-- made sexual advances to the high priestess, his sister-in-law, in this case probably Enheduanna herself.
The Story of Ereshkigal, Inanna’s Older Sister
In the last lines of the poem, Enheduanna recites the divine attributes, exalting the greatness of the goddess, who is equal in power with Anu, the supreme god of Mesopotamia.
The hymn moves on to a passage "unique to Sumerian literature describing the process of poetic inspiration" Hallo, Exaltation 62where the poet-scribe characterizes her creative labors as giving birth, i. The concluding three-line doxology conveys the sense of the goddess and her poetess emerging triumphant.
Clearly, in The Adoration of Inanna of Ur there is a strong authorial presence that may be unmatched in ancient literary creation until the time of Sappho. She is self-consciously present in the process of writing and in the poem. The double "I" of the creatrix, Enheduanna and Inanna, are always at the center.
Personally, I find this poem extremely modern. All of us who work with integrity and passion for the retrieval of the ancient Mesopotamian Mysteries are committed to the restoration of the true Light of the goddess here and now. As such, we stand at the threshold of heaven and earth, communicating the wisdom of our soul ancestors as it were through all possible means, cyberspace inclusive, o the modern generations of priests, priestesses, magicians and sorceresses who will succeed us.
This work, translated by Ake Sjoberg, and using 29 texts and fragments, is published as "In-nin-sa-gur-ra: In all 57 lines are missing at important points in the composition. The text breaks off entirely at the point that Enheduanna steps forward: The Sjoberg translation does not begin again until line with Enheduanna still speaking in the first person.
When the text resumes Enheduanna still speaks of her own experience of punishment. The translator speculates her punishment may have been sent by Inanna to discipline Enheduanna: In a footnote on the same page, he notes that another translation is possible.
In any case, her apparent recovery must have occurred because she ends the hymn praising Inanna "My Lady, I will proclaim your greatness in all lands and your glory! Both works move from an opening address of Inanna in third person to addressing her in second person. In both hymns there is a section exalting Inanna.
Since almost the entire section of In-nin sa-gur-ra in which Enheduanna steps forward in first person are missing, 24 of the most important lines in the hymn, it cannot be compared to The Exaltation except to say that this section which is the most personal contains the reason that Enheduanna speaks to Inanna, why she writes the hymn.
It is in this personal section, that Enheduanna seems to explain her motivation and her process. In The Exaltation, she adds her metacommentary that helps to illuminate the meaning of the hymn on a personal, psychological, and universal level.