Without even one small clue about what was happening in my inner world, in fact, not even knowing what “inner world” might mean, I asked for a dream. I was desperate. Mad with the black, bleakness of clinical depression. A Box of Books, and a dream I mostly surely did not have a remote glimmer of understanding! The dream is found both on this website and of course in my first book, I, The Woman, Planted the Tree: A Journey through Dreams to the Feminine. It would be seven very very intense years of dream work, literally dozens of books, hours of meditation, days of writing and buckets of tears, I would come to know that I my dream world was the story of the Descent to the Goddess. Unfamiliar with the language of descent? So was I. Unfamiliar with the notion of the Goddess? That too. Afraid? Yes. Petrified. But, I had to go. The choice was too stark. Without the descent, I might still be floundering in that black, bleak pit of depression. Years. A lifetime. But not as many years as those spent in depression! And, beautiful years they are! I hope you join me in reading my books, my facebook page, and this website! The journey is filled with joy, pain and beauty! The transformation of a woman’s soul on a journey through woundedness to utter amazement and profound gladness.
The Descent of Inanna excerpted from She who Dwells Within, by Lynn Gottlieb.
Inanna’s descent into the underworld occurs in her later years, after she has attained her “bed” and “throne.” She learns of the death of her sister Ereshkigal’s husband and decides to pay a mourning call. Ereshkigal had been raped and carried off by her underworld husband many years before. Now, at the time of his death, Inanna puts her ear to the ground, which is the Sumerian way of saying she seeks wisdom. Queen Inanna adorns herself with ceremonial jewelry and clothing and begins her perilous journey downward. She places her female ally Ninhursag at the point of her descent, instructing her to seek help in case she does not return after three days.
As Inanna passes through each of seven gates on her way to the underworld, she is forced to shed one of her protective garments. Finally she arrives naked and alone before the stern gaze of her formidable sister, Ereshkigal, queen of the underworld, who promptly fastens the eye of death on Inanna and hangs her corpse on a hook on the wall.
After three days Ninhursag obtains help from Inanna’s father, Enki, who dispatches two tiny spirit-helpers to assist his daughter in her plight. The diminutive size of these two creatures allows them to pass through the seven gates undetected. When they enter the throne room, they find Ereshkigal groaning in the throes of labor. Ereshkigal cries out in pain, and they answer her and comfort her. Ereshkigal is delighted with their empathic response and offers them a gift of their choosing as a reward. They request the corpse of Inanna. Although the queen tries to dissuade them, she eventually grants their favor and releases Inanna to the upperworld, revived and renewed.
Note: Full versions of this tale with interpretation can be found in Sylvia Brinton Perera, Descent to the Goddess: A Way of Initiation for Women, and Diane Wolkstein and Samuel Kramer, Inanna: Queen of Heaven and Earth—Her Stories and Hymns from Sumer.