Inanna and Ereshkigal

Pluto and an image of descent , for a commentary on the text go to http://astroquestastrology.com/pluto-and-an-image-of-descent/

INANNA'S DESCENT TO THE "GREAT PLACE BELOW"

A time came when the Lady of the Gods, Inanna, thought it right to visit the realm of her sister, ruler of the Great Place Below for her husband had just died and she knew she must grieve. Before leaving for the underworld, Inanna put on her divine regalia and instructed her minister Ninshubur that, after three days, she was to ask help of the great gods.

So, in all the magnificence of her apparel, in all her splendour and power, the Lady Inanna went into the cavern that passes down to the realm of drkness. She came to the place that is sur­rounded by seven walls, that has seven gates opening into it, the place where the Dead sit in unchanging and everlasting gloom. Before the  gate she called: "Ho, Watchman! Open thou the gate that I may enter in!" The Watchman looked at her from over the gate; he did not speak to her; he did not open the gate to her. "If thou openest not the gate, I will smite upon it; I will shatter the bolt, and beat down the doors!” So spoke the Lady of the Gods standing before the gate in all her power and splendour.

And hearing her commanding voice and looking upon her in all her power and splendour, Nedu, the Watchman said, "Great Lady, do not throw down the gate that I guard. Let me go and declare thy will to the queen, to Ereshkigal." He went before the queen. And hearing of the coming of the Lady of the Gods,  was angered terribly. She bade the Watchman open the gates and take pos­session of the new-comer according to the ancient usages. He returned to the first gate. He laid hands upon that side of the gate on which the dust lies thick; he drew the bolt on which the dust is scattered. "Enter, 0 Lady, and let the realm of  be glad at thy coming; let the palace of the land whence none return rejoice at thee." He said this and he took the great crown off Inanna's head. "Why hast thou taken the great crown off my head?" "Enter so, 0 Lady; this is the law of Ereshkigal."

So Inanna entered through the first gate and saw the second wall before her. With head bent she went towards it. The Watchman at her coming opened the second gate. "Enter, 0 Lady, and let the realm of Ereshkigal be glad at thy coming; let the palace of the land whence none return rejoice at thee." He said this and put forth his hand and took that which was at her neck, the eight-rayed star. "Why, 0 Watchman, hast thou taken the eight-rayed star?" "Enter so, 0 Lady; this is the law of Ereshkigal."

So the Lady Inanna, her head bent, the radiance gone from her, went through the second gate and saw the third wall before her. The Watchman opened the gate that was there. "Enter, 0 Lady. Let the realm of Ereshkigal be glad at thee; let the palace of the land whence none return rejoice before thee." He said this and he took the bracelets from off her arms-the bracelets of gold and lapis-lazuli. "Why, 0 Watch­man, hast thou taken the bracelets from off mine arms?" "Enter so, 0 Lady; this is the law of Ereshkigal."

So Inanna, her head bent, the radiance gone from her, and no longer magnificent in the gold of her ornaments, went through the third gate and saw the fourth wall before her. The Watchman opened the gate that was there. "Enter, 0 Lady. Let the realm of Ereshkigal be glad at thee; let the palace of the land whence none return rejoice before thee." He said this and he took the shoes from off her feet. "Why, 0 Watchman, hast thou taken the shoes from off my feet?" "Enter so, 0 Lady; this is the law of Ereshkigal."

So the Lady Inanna, her head bent, the radiance gone from her, no longer magnificent in the gold of her ornaments, with stumbling and halting steps went through the fourth gate and saw the fifth wall before her. The Watchman opened the gate that was there. "Enter, 0 Lady. Let the realm of Ereshkigal be glad at thee; let the palace of the land whence none return rejoice before thee." He said this, and he put forth his hand, and he took her resplendent veil away. "Why hast thou taken the veil from me?" "Enter so, 0 Lady; this is the law of Ereshkigal."

So the Lady Inanna, her head bent, the radiance gone from her, so longer magnificent in the gold of her ornaments, with apparel no longer full nor resplendent, with stumbling and halting steps went through the sixth gate and, saw the seventh wall before her. The Watch­man opened the gate that was there. "Enter, 0 Lady. Let the realm of Ereshkigal be glad at thee; let the palace of the land whence none return rejoice before thee." He said this, and he took off her garment. "Why hast thou taken off my garment?" "Enter so, 0 Lady; this is the law of Ereshkigal."

Naked, with her splendour, and her power, and her beauty all gone from her, the Lady of the Gods came before Ereshkigal. And Ereshkigal, the Goddess of the World Below, had the head of a lioness and the body of a woman; in her hands she grasped a serpent. Before her stood Belit-seri, the Lady of the Desert, holding in her hands the tab­lets on which she wrote the decrees of Ereshkigal.

Inanna saw the Dead that were there. They were without light; they ate the dust and they fed upon mud; they were clad in feathers and they had wings like birds; they lived in the darkness of night. And seeing their state, Inanna became horribly afraid. She begged of Ereshkigal to give her permission to return from the House of Dust where dwelt high priests, ministrants, magicians, and prophets; where dwelt Tam­muz, the spouse of her youth. But Ereshkigal said to her

Thou art now in the land whence none return, in the place of darkness;
Thou art in the House of Darkness, the house from which none who enter come forth again;
Thou hast taken the road whose course returns not;
Thou art in the house where they who enter are excluded from light,
In the place where dust is their bread and mud their food,
Where they behold not the light, where they dwell in darkness,
And are clothed like birds in garments of feathers.
Over the door and across the bolt the dust is scattered.

Then Ereshkigal cursed Inanna; she called, upon the demon of the plague, to smite the Lady of the Gods. And Namtar went to her and smote her, so that the plague 

afflicted every member of her body. Inanna saw the light no more; feathers came upon her; she ate dust and fed upon the mud; she was as one of those whom she had sent down into Ereshkigal's realm.

Ereshkigal then fixes upon her the eyes of death, and killing her. She turns her into a corpse and hangs her from a peg, as a trophy.

In the world above no longer did the cow low for the bull; no longer did the bull bellow so that the cows might hear of his might. The ewe did not run to ram; the mare was not drawn to the stallion; the he-goat, chief of a herd, browsed with the herd as though there were no longer male and female; the birds did not call to each other. The hero did not take the maid in his arms; the warrior returning did not embrace his wife; his wife uttered no words of love to the warrior. None sought the women in the temple of Inanna. The women in the temple did not call to the men who went by. So it was on the earth when Inanna was in the World Below.

Three days go by and Inanna’s faithful servant, puts on mourning attire and raises the alarm. She goes to several different gods all begging that they help, and none will, either out of fear and respect for the Underworld and her Queen, or because they felt Inanna was being greedy in going into the underworld when she was already the Queen of Heaven, and as such deserves the fate she has met. Finally Inanna’s servant finds sympathy in Enki, a water God associated with the constellation Aquarius.

From the dust under his fingernails he fashions two sexless creatures, and he gives them both the food of life and the water of life, and he instructs them to slip into the underworld unnoticed, and when Ereshgikal moans, to moan with her. He instructs them to empathize with her. He then instructs them that when  offered something in return for their sympathy, to request the corpse of Inanna, and sprinkle on her the water of life, and feed her the food of life, thus restoring her.

As such the little dust people enter Irkalla silently creeping unnoticed under each of the great gateways and do exactly as they are told, and in return for their empathy  gives them Inanna’s corpse and they restore the Queen of Heaven. But as Inanna attempts to leave, the Annunaki, which are the judges of the Underworld say she cannot go unless she provides a replacement, as no one leaves the underworld. So they send Inanna back to the land of the living with a horde of demons to claim her replacement.

Once more Nadu the Watchman put his hand upon the bolt on which the dust by; he opened the gate on which the dust was scattered. Inanna passed through the gate. He gave her her garment; she put the garment upon her and her nakedness was covered. She went upon her way. He opened the second gate. He gave her back her outer robe. He gave her back her veil; he gave her back the shoes for her feet; he gave her back her bracelets of gold and lapis-lazuli; he gave her back the eight­rayed star that had been at her neck. At last he opened the outer gate of the realm of Ereshkigal. He took the great crown and he set it upon her head. Then Inanna went from the realm of Ereshkigal. But she did not go in splendour, she did not go in radiance; she went with her head bowed. She went into the world where light was. No blossoms were there, and no birds called.

But no sooner had she come upon the earth than her splendour and power came back to Inanna; she walked as a Goddess,  as the Lady of the Gods. The creatures of the earth heard her voice. Then the bull bellowed; the cow heard and lowed back to him; the stallion neighed and the mare was drawn to him; the warrior returning em­braced his wife; his wife said, "Thou shalt be my man, I shall be thy woman"; the hero took the maid in his arms. All creation rejoiced; all creation praised the works of Inanna. And the Gods rejoiced, knowing that what they had created would not pass away.

Still the laws of Ereskigal hold sway and one must take the place of Inanna so when Inanna comes upon Dumuzi her consort and find him dressed in fine regalia, making merry, not mourning one bit. Inanna fixes upon him, the same eyes that were fixed up her, and her sisters demons know they have their replacement.

 

 
 

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