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.
Healing the Sacred Divide can be found at Amazon and Larson Publications, Inc. Ebook versions of The Bridge to Wholeness and Dream Theatres of the Soul are at Amazon, Kobo, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, and Diesel Ebooks
… and your blessings, like your beautiful post, remind us of moments, both now and then, when death and suffering were revealed as an essential piece of journeying through to awareness and transcendence – a model to hold as an ultimate gift. Thank you Jean, for the time you spend in creating and sharing these reflections … Blessings back to you and yours this Easter …
Yes, the journey does swing through the opposites, and all must be integrated into our awareness. But the gifts are more than worth the suffering…especially the gift of finding and communicating with like-minded souls! Thank you.
Beautiful, Jeanne. I’m glad you’re posting again.
Thank you, Sally. Blessed Easter….. blessed new life. Jeanie
Thank you for this beautiful post. Timely for me, the expression of interpretation where you speak: “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.” Timely because only last night I attended a lecture at UA by a psychotherapist on Freud’s interpretation of Vergil’s Aeneid. My husband and I enjoyed a great conversation during dinner about “interpretation.” Lovely!
Very neat! Love these synchronicities! “Interpretation” is a topic worthy of a great deal of discussion, especially with loved ones, lest the ego’s need for certainties sabotage the soul’s purposes. Thanks for writing!
Beautiful and just right. Inanna’s stories gave me a map during Vic’s illness, along with Orpheus. I’ll share this on FB with gratitude.
Thank you, Elaine. Inanna’s stories have also helped me understand the value of the mid-life descent which awakens the ego to the very real influences of the depths: the unconscious self. For me, this is the kind of “feminine” knowledge that sets all of us, male and female alike, on the journey to fuller consciousness and enlightenment during the second half of life.