The ways of the Underworld are perfect. They may not be questioned.
The Sumerian myth of the Goddess Inanna, Queen of the Upperworld, and her Dark Sister, Ereshkigal, Goddess of the Underworld, is the first recorded myth engraved on stone tablets dated 5000 years ago. The myth represents an Initiation of the Descent Mysteries, revealing how to consciously make descend into the underworld of our unconscious for the purpose of healing and supporting our psyches, resulting in a reclamation our WILD instincts and energy patterns.
Queen Inanna who has everything, the gifts and graces of the Sky Gods and a Lover beyond compare, internally hears the call of her Sister in the Underworld…. hears her lament for the loss of her husband…. and chooses to make her descent to visit her, even while knowing this is a forbidden dangerous journey.
She must move through the 7 formidable Gates on her journey and face the fierce Guardian of the Gateways. At each Gate, she is demanded to give up a piece of her regalia which represent the 7 powers in the world that she is identified with: her crown, her lapis lazuli necklace, her double strand of beads, her breastplate, her gold bracelet, lapis scepter, and the royal robe.
When Inanna questions why her regalia is taken…
What is this?
She is told…
Quiet Inanna! The ways of the Underworld are perfect. They may not be questioned.
When Inanna finally arrives at the throne of her sister, naked and bowed low, Ereshkigal is INFURIATED by her presence. Ereshkigal was exiled into the Underworld by the father gods and ignored, all the while feared by them. Inanna has been enjoying all the world’s pomp and circumstance as its Queen, forgetting that Ereshkigal sits on her dark throne, unloved and unseen, tending to the exiled and the dead.
When Inanna moves toward Ereshkigal to express her love and concern, Ereshkigal ‘fastens the eye of death‘ upon Inanna, speaks her words of wrath, and “utters against her the cry of guilt.” She strikes Inanna down, killing her, and hangs her upside down upon a hook next to her throne.
After three days and three nights, Inanna’s devoted attendant, Ninshubar, who was instructed by Inanna before she left to get help if she didn’t return, sees that Inanna is not returned and so goes for help. One of the father gods, Enki, fashions two little transgender creatures – the galatur and the kurgarra – from the dirt under his nails and instructs them to sneak through the cracks of the Gates into the Underworld and once there, to fully empathize with Ereshkigal’s suffering.
They arrive to Ereshkigal moaning and groaning…
Oh! Oh! My inside!
The two creatures cry back…
Oh! Oh! Your inside!
Oh! Oh! My belly!
Oh! Oh! Your belly!
And this continues, until Ereshkigal is cracked open to her heart by being so compassionately witnessed and empathized with. She stops. Looks at them and asks…
“Who are you? Moaning – groaning – sighing with me? If you are gods, I will bless you! If you are mortals, I will give you a gift!”
The two creatures ask for the corpse of Inanna, and true to her word, Ereshkigal releases the dead Inanna to them. They pour the sacred water and earth of Life upon her, and Inanna is resurrected.
This myth is a powerful recognition that the descent into the depths of our psyche and back out again is part of our cycling natures. Our Dark Other, the hidden exiled one, needs to be communed with, honored, and loved to keep ourselves in a state of wholeness and mental, emotional, spiritual, wellbeing.
Ereshkigal calls us in our depressions. She calls to us in our pain and suffering. She calls to us so that we may discover what has been placed in exile through our ignorance, and then learn to love and embrace these hidden aspects of ourselves, learn from their wisdom, resulting in a sense of greater wholeness in our psyches and our lives.
Unfortunately what most of us do rather than listen to this call and respond, rather than turn and commune with our exiled self, we numb ourselves with substances, various destructive habits and busy distractions, running as far away as we can to avoid this journey. Yet we will never find our fulfillment without making the descent to reclaim our hidden Other, feel compassion for her/our suffering, and be released to their profound empowering ways.
Our culture holds little value for these ways. We were not taught these ways by our families. We were not taught this in our education. Some religions hold elements of these ways, yet often dogmatically and literally, leaving us with the concept that we are miserable sinners that can never truly be sovereign in our natures.
We have not known these mysteries nor embodied their wisdom for thousands of years. They are not returning.
The Descent is a magnificent and necessary journey into the wild terrain of our primal intelligence. It is about reclaiming our embodied wisdom as human beings, supporting us to live from the original ground of our wholeness.
May She rise from the Underworld through our ardent hearts and take her true place in our psyches and on our beloved Earth.
I did this painting over a two year period during the deepening of my peri-menopausal passageway. The first figure is my body, imprinted on the paper, stripped bare and staked upside-down. My psyche carried me into its depths where I was initiated by its profound transformative forces over this period of my life. I worked these energies in authentic movement, expressive painting and authentic writing. My gift from Her, my Dark Sister, and my resurrected Lover Queen, are the radiating jewels of embodied wisdom you read here.
In honor of Her sacred deep-hearted ways, I now offer them to you. Hallowed Be.