Easter to the Soul


One of the oldest recorded myths comes from Sumeria and tells the story of Inanna, Queen of Heaven and Earth. After a period of growing, assuming her authority, working to bless the world with the gifts of civilization, courting, marrying, birthing and mothering, Inanna descends to the underworld to visit her sister Ereshkigal, its Queen. On the way down she is stripped one by one of all her earthly possessions: symbols of her beauty, success, femininity and the power she has worked so hard to attain. At the bottom she is met by Ereshkigal who has her hung naked on a meat hook. And there she hangs. But on the third day, with the help of her loyal priestess, Ninshubur, and Enki, the God of Culture, she’s rescued and returns to life in the world above.
This is an allegory of a universal truth. Like all great myths, which are stories about our relationships with the gods, it does not have to be factually true on the outside but is always true on the inside, the domain of the soul. The truth is, whether or not we all agree on the meaning, names or details, this story is relevant to every soul.
Physically, it’s about the seasonal Death/Rebirth cycles of vegetation and fertility. Psychologically, Joseph Campbell saw it as a metaphor for the soul’s empowerment and evolving consciousness via the descent into the unconscious, the experience of powerlessness, and the realization of our strength through facing our disowned shadow qualities. Spiritually, it’s about the universal longing for salvation and redemption through divine revelation and intervention.
To the ego it sometimes feels crucial that we get the facts right, possess the “correct” interpretation — especially the religious one — and reject the “wrong” one. But to the soul, these details are beside the point. To your soul and mine, this story is a celebration of the sacred miracle of life, and all three interpretations are equally true.
Every soul is grateful for the sun which brings warmth and light to our days so plants can grow and we can learn and improve and do the hard work that brings meaning and comfort to our lives. We’re all glad when each productive day is followed by a cooler, softer, moonlit night when we can rest, enjoy our loved ones, rejuvenate our bodies and spirits.
Our souls appreciate the exquisite balance of seasons whose alternating cycles likewise bring times of arising, thriving, descending, and dying. And every soul celebrates when the ego dies to its ignorance and meanness and awakens to its nobility in a miraculous new season of enlightened forgiveness, gratitude and compassion.
Above all, our souls know our ego selves did not make any of this happen. Something far greater, some Sacred Mystery over which we have no control, some benevolent, boundless, timeless Otherness set the processes of life in motion and keeps them working. And when we set apart times like this to stop and think about it, we remember that we are blessed beyond measure to participate in this miracle.
In this season of rebirth and renewal I send my blessings to all celebrators everywhere of the miracle of life.

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0 Responses

  1. Beautifully elaborated. An important, heartful reflection. It really is about the miracle of life and the truth of what exists within us – the invisible, undeniable other half of reality that stirs our spirits towards enlightenment and our souls toward seeking where enlightenment awaits. To the grand Journey, and all that this Easter long weekend inspires: love, humility, reflection, honour, and so much more.

  2. Indeed, Jeanie, you’ve brought the sacredness of this Easter season beautifully alive to all hearts open to hear, to see, to feel, to know from our own experience of this deep truth. I celebrate it with you and all, Julie

  3. Jeanie,
    A truly beautiful post, that captures the reality of life and our individual soul journeys through the seasons, ever influenced by the ineffable truth and wonder of God’s nature.
    Thank you for giving the joy of resurrection such powerful expression.

  4. Thank you for this message of initiation and rebirth. My mythology class studied Inanna’s Sumerian myths for many years, focusing on the descent to the underworld and the return to life and light. This myth gave me a sense of direction through my personal descent with my husband to his death. When dwelling in the Great Below, I knew that my place in Life was held and protected by trusted companions who were watching out for me. Taking on the role of Ninshubur, these women never forgot that I was on a perilous journey and I relied on their conscious help to fully return to life.

  5. How fortunate you were to have found meaning in that magnificent myth at such a crucial time in your life. And to be surrounded by women who understood your descent was truly a special blessing. Welcome back! I know you have much to share about your experience that will be a great blessing to others. Love, Jeanie

  6. Reblogged this on Journeying to the Goddess and commented:
    This point really hit home with me as I’ve struggled to find truth this week about the Ostara and Easter season. There seems to be so much mis- and disinformation out there concerning the Neo-Pagan holiday of Ostara with no scholarly or historical “evidence” or lore to back them up. Also, I see a lot of crazy fundamentalist Xtain claims centered around the worship of Ishtar and the present day Easter traditions of Lent, eating ham at Easter, hot-crossed buns, association with hares and even coloring eggs with the blood of sacrificed babies…crazy, right? Here’s what I take from Jean Raffa’s entry on the Easter season (and applies to those of us who observe and celebrate Ostara): “To the ego it sometimes feels crucial that we get the facts right, possess the ‘correct’ interpretation — especially the religious one — and reject the ‘wrong’ one. But to the soul, these details are beside the point. To your soul and mine, this story is a celebration of the sacred miracle of life, and all three interpretations are equally true.” Beautifully put!

    1. Thank you, Daughter RavynStar, I’m so glad you found meaning in this. It’s hard for so many people to realize that religious holidays and rituals of all sorts address the life in our bodies, hearts and souls, and that this is something we all have in common, regardless of the words or historical facts we use to try to manifest these realities in the outer world. Jeanie

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