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Blessed Inanna

By Asushunamir (Written for Ecclasia)

Inanna Image Copyright Tom Perkins 1998, courtesy of Spiral Goddess Grove

I am Asushunamir. It is my honor to relate what I know of my precious Goddess Inanna. But who I am is not important at this moment, and shall be revealed later. For I do not come before the Goddess, Blessed Inanna whom I serve. This is Her story, a story I am honored to have played a small part.

She is a Sumerian Goddess, born of the Moon Goddess Ningal and Her consort Sin/Nanna. She is also considered daughter of the Sky God An. She would later be known as Ishtar of the Babylonian pantheon. Her brother is Utu, God of Sun and Justice; Her sister is Ereshkigal, Goddess of the Underworld.

She is known as the Mother of all things, Queen of Heaven and Earth, being both an Earth Goddess and a Moon Goddess. She is the Goddess of love, and war, sexuality, fertility, birth, and nature. She is most often depicted as the Earth Mother completely naked, with both hands cupped underneath her breasts pushing slightly upward, shown to illustrate Her offering the world sustenance, along with a reminder that without Her there will be no life. Her animal is the lion, and in Her dark aspect the scorpion. She can also be seen with wings and serpents adorning her shoulders, and seen as well with the double-headed axe representing her power both to bestow, and take life. Her symbol is the eight-pointed star.

She is known for her great love and kindness, a mother's love, but she is also greatly feared, and can easily strike terror in her enemies. She would be in the middle of any battle, and those battles were often named "…the dance of Inanna". She also had all of nature at Her command, and could easily bring about great storms with thunder and lightning and a deluge of rain, as well as earthquakes that would destroy everything, or gentle rain that nourishes and brings about growth. She could bring about blazing heat, or a freezing chill, or gentle warmth, and soothing coolness at Her will.

She is the Goddess of sex, and has had many consorts, but whoa-betide the consort who disappointed Her. She would not hesitate to wound, maim or even kill a consort who didn't live up to his boasting, or Her expectations. This is illustrated in the "Epic of Gilgamesh". Inanna desired Gilgamesh, but he spurned Her by recounting all the things She had done to former lovers and consorts, and describing Her as "…a cooking fire that goes out in the cold; a back door that keeps out neither wind nor storm; a palace that crushes the brave ones defending it; a well whose lid collapses; pitch that dirties one who is carrying it; a waterskin that soaks the one who lifts it; limestone that crumbles in the stone wall; a battering ram that shatters in the land of the enemy; a shoe that pinches the owner's foot!" For this great insult She sent the "Bull of Heaven" to terrorize and destroy His city of Erech. (Kramer 1963 p. 262) Later, She is wed to Dumuzi and from their marriage bed springs forth life and the growth of plants and grains. She declares herself as his battle leader, and he is given the task of guiding the path of weapons and she gives him power over the fertility of plants and animals.

One of the most famous, and often told stories is "Inanna's Descent to the Nether World". It is in this story that I, Asushunamir, play a part, and is the essence of my life, and purpose. Inanna descended to the Nether World to witness the funeral rites of Gugalanna, the "Bull of Heaven" and husband of Ereshkigal. She took precautions before going, telling Her servant Ninshubur to seek assistance from Enlil, Nanna, or Enki at their shrines, should she not return, for Ereshkigal is Queen of the Nether World. Upon arriving at the gate of Kur (The Nether World), Inanna is met by Neti the gatekeeper. She would not allow Inanna to enter. Neti conferred with Ereshkigal, and allowed the Goddess to enter but on one condition, that at each of the seven gates of Kur, Inanna was to give up an article of what she was wearing. Each of these articles represented the power of Inanna. She was confident that She would be safe, so She agreed. At the first gate he removes her splendid crown. At the second gate he removes her necklace with the eight-rayed star. At the third gate he removes her bracelets of gold and lapis lazuli. At the fourth gate he removes her shoes. At the fifth gate he removes her veil. At the sixth gate he removes her outer robe. At the seventh gate he removes her garment. After removing the final garment She stood naked in front of Ereshkigal, who then fixed the eye of death upon blessed Inanna, killed Her, and hung Her on the wall on a hook like a rotting piece of meat.

Since Inanna had not returned, her faithful servant Ninshubur went to Enki as instructed. Enki, after hearing of this and seeing that nothing would grow on Earth, and all things began to die in Inanna's absence, created a being from under his fingernails, a being of light, Asushunamir. I am this creation. I am both sexes, male and female, and clothed in the stars. I could not be possessed by the spell of Ereshkigal. I went into the Nether World and went to Ereshkigal. My beauty, and my dancing, and my voice mesmerized Ereshkigal. She called for a great feast and tried to get me to eat and drink, but I did not eat of the meal prepared by the servants of Ereshkigal. After a time Ereshkigal began to get careless, so I asked if I could taste of the "Water of Life". She agreed. Ereshkigal cried out, "Namtar, bring the jug with the water of life. I shall grant the wish of this charming creature." When She fell asleep, I took the "Water of Life" to where Inanna was. I laid Her out on the floor, and sprinkled the life-giving water upon Her. She arose, and immediately headed out of the Nether World. Upon Her return to Earth, all things began to grow. People returned to their wine making, love making and their planting. I followed Her closely, but was caught before being able to leave. Ereshkigal cursed me, and neither my beauty, nor my charm, nor my dancing or songs, could extinguish the passion that had turned to hate. I was told that "The food of the gutter shall thou eat. The water of the sewer shall be your drink. In the shadows you shall abide, despised and hated by even your own kind." Then I was banished by Ereshkigal. In the meantime the Galla, demons of the underworld, followed Inanna out of the Netherworld. It was required that someone takes Her place. Eventually they came upon Demuzi, who was simply going about his everyday business. Enraged by this seeming lack of caring, Inanna chose him to take Her place. He was taken. Later, She regretted having him taken, and with the intervention of his sister Geshtianna, was able to have Demuzi released for six months out of the year and Geshtianna would then take his place for six months.

This has created the cycle of birth, growth, maturation, decline, and death.

As for me, when Inanna found out about the curse, she wept and spoke softly that no one might hear. "The power of Ereshkigal is great. No one dares to defy her. Yet I may soften her curse upon you, as spring arrives to banish winter. Those who are like you, my assinnu and kalum and kugarru and kalaturru, lovers of men, kin to my sacred women, shall be strangers in their own homes. Their families will keep them in the shadows and will leave them nothing. The drunken shall smite them, and the mighty shall imprison them. But if you remember me, how you were born from the light of the stars to save me, and through me the earth, from darkness and death, then I shall harbor you and your kind. You shall be my favored children, and I shall make you my priestesses. I shall grant you the gift of prophecy, the wisdom of the earth and the moon and all that they govern, and you shall banish illness from my children, even as you have stolen me from the clutches of Ereshkigal.''

"And when you dress in my robes, I shall dance in your feet and sing in your throats. No man shall be able to resist your enchantments.''

"When the earthen jug is brought from Irkalla, lions shall leap in the deserts, and you shall be freed from the spell of Ereshkigal. Once more you will be called Asushunamir, a being clothed in light. Your kind shall be called Those Whose Faces Are Brilliant, Those Who Have Come to Renew the Light, The Blessed of Inanna.'' (http://www.aztriad.com/kalum.html)

Blessed Be Inanna, So Mote It Be

 

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This page last updated March 10, 2004