The-descend-of-Inanna

INANNA AS  THE MYTH IS RELEVANT FOR A CANCER PATIENT

Myth and stories are ways of transmitting wisdom beyond words since the beginning of time.
The myth of Inanna is one of the first recorded on tablets in Mesopotamia,  in the cradle of humankind. Many things have changed since then, but the fundamental dramas remains the same, life and death, dark and light, upperworld and underworld, love and abandonment, forgiveness and reconciliation,the necessary  journey of every human being to join the opposites within.
We used the myth of Inanna to articulate  the narrative of the movie  as it expresses very beautifully the journey  all cancer patients can relate to, and frames the individual struggle in an universal archetype that provides a map  for the journey in a much needed moment.

Inanna, the Sumerian Queen of Heaven, has everything a girl (or any innocent, unconscious person) may want : power, beauty, health, respect, control, recognition.

All goes well on the upper world, on the surface. Why then does she voluntarily descend into the underworld?
The diagnostic, opens up an abyss, the possibility of dying.
Inanna hears a scream from her sister Ereshkigal in  the underworld, she wants to go down there and see who is suffering.
So Inanna talks with Ninshubur, her loyal assistant and friend (the myth remarks here the importance of  staying connected, a lifeline with the upper world) and tells him that she is going to visit her dark sister  and if she doesn’t come back in three days , please come down to rescue her.
She puts her ear on earth and hears her twin sister Ereshkigal screaming in pain.
The journey proves to be far more than she had bargained for.
There are seven gates through which she must pass, alone.
At the first gate she meets the chief gatekeeper and servant to the queen of the underworld, her sister Ereshkigal — her exact opposite, as dark is to light.
This story is about many things,  about the reckoning of opposites that occurs within families, relationships, and within the psyche itself.
The idea is  a progressive loss of  everything  known ,often femininity or masculinity, dignity, authority, strength, prestige, relationships, money, all that we had goes.
The diagnosis  takes all certainty away. We start to hear what suffers underneath the everyday shiny surface of things.
The idea of illness  as a soul screaming to be heard. When we don’t listen our needs of meaning, purpose, creativity, intimacy, attention, solitude, authentic expression, etc.,  something in us withers away.
We start a journey into the underworld to see what is there complaining , unhappy and also to look for our potential not actualized, not developed, our talents, our broken dreams, our abandoned emotions.
Our identity from the upper world disappears, we enter into a world of shadows,the inner world.
We find here all that we have ignored , hidden , all we have dismissed or renounced to,  what had to  be left behind in order to succeed on the upper world.
The underworld It is also the world of  the unconscious  riches, the potentials, dreams, talents, possibilities,creativity and new magmatic life.
So with Queen Inanna the descent proceeds, at each of the seven gates another item of jewelry or clothing forfeited. Also, at each gate the proud Inanna asks,
“What is this?”
“Quiet, Inanna, the ways of the underworld are perfect. They may not be questioned.”
The same question, the same reply as at gate after gate another item is forfeited.
“Only humbled and naked can my sister enter this realm,” decrees Ereshkigal.
Here is the stripping down of the psyche, undressing to its true proportions beyond the royal persona, beyond inflation and falsely identified ego. So, naked and humbled Inanna enters the royal throne room where her dark sister waits.
On a psychological level, what has occurred is a letting go of all false aspects of the self. These are aspects of the persona which have become hardened and rigid, preventing Inanna from acting from her true self. What does not belong to one’s essential nature does not belong, period. Whatever is not hers has become burdensome, whether she recognizes it or not. The symbols of royalty Inanna once eagerly embraced must now be lifted.

  1. the two queens stare at one another
  2. Inanna dares to take the first step forward, but is halted
  3. Judges of the underworld, a swarm annuha surround her.
  4. Ereshkigal fastens on her sister the eye of death
  5. Ereshkigal speaks words of “wrath” against Inanna
  6. Ereshkigal cries “guilt” against Inanna
  7. Ereshkigal strikes Inanna — hard
  8. Inanna at once is turned into a corpse
  9. She is left to hang from a hook on the wall—”a piece of rotting meat.”

Ninshubur, the loyal friend of Inanna goes for help after 3 days  and Enki creates from the dirt of his fingernails two small creatures:the kurgarra and the galatu. They enter the underworld. Here sits Ereshkigal weeping and moaning over her dead sister’s corpse.
The flies do as they’ve been instructed: They just echo back to Ereshkigal her own pain, Ay! My insides!, Ay! your  insides, they repeat. Ay! my heart!, Ay! your heart!, Ay! my belly, AY! your belly.
This creatures  don’t pretend to solve or save  or change anything, they simply echo back all the screams of Ereshkigal, they  are witness, repeat back, listen to her pain.
This listening little by little transforms her resentment for having being abandoned into compassion and generosity, so much so that allows Inanna to return to life.
Who we choose to accompany us in this journey can be the difference between life and death, a word on time can be the hand that rescues us from the bottomless abyss of despair, the possibility of coming back to the land of  life depends of a group or a loyal friend. They drip life-saving liquids onto Inanna’s corpse. Inanna stirs and gradually awakens.
With these acts of empathy from the dark sister, this moaning and rocking in her grief, there is a coming together of these opposing forces.
And so Inanna is restored to life and allowed to return to her realm of gold and light.
As in all myths and legend, she returns from the underworld forever changed. Henceforth, Inanna embodies the gifts from the dark sister; now as Queen she is reconciled to the part of herself projected onto her sister. Reclaiming this part of herself, she is at last whole.
It is a myth of death and rebirth
But Inanna cannot come back to the same place Many questions lay ahead, who I am really? , what makes me happy?, who really cares about me?, What shall live and what shall die?, what I am here to do? what is my way?
Growth of the soul and healing from cancer begins facing the truth, being oneself.
Each treatment is different, always facing the unknown and the fear. And the only important thing is how we  answer with our truth.
We have to start distinguishing what kills my body and what kills my soul, what is destructive, what makes us unhappy, if we want to live and why we want to live and how we want to live, we need to start distinguishing what is important and  what is not.

TRANSLATION FROM A FRAGMENT OF THE ANCIENT SUMERIAN TEXT “THE DESCENT OF INANNA”

From the “great above” she set her mind toward the “great below,”
The goddess, from the “great above” she set her mind toward the “great below,”
Inanna, from the “great above” she set her mind toward the “great below.”
My lady abandoned heaven, abandoned earth,
To the nether world she descended,
Inanna abandoned heaven, abandoned earth,
To the nether world she descended,
Abandoned lordship, abandoned ladyship,
To the nether world she descended.
In Erech she abandoned Eanna,
To the nether world she descended,
In Badtibira she abandoned Emushkalamma,
To the nether world she descended,
In Zabalam she abandoned Giguna,
To the nether world she descended,
In Adab she abandoned Esharra,
To the nether world she descended,
In Nippur she abandoned Baratushgarra,
To the nether world she descended,
In Kish she abandoned Hursagkalamma,
To the nether world she descended,
In Agade she abandoned Eulmash,
To the nether world she descended.
The seven divine decrees she fastened at the side,
She sought out the divine decrees, placed them at her hand,
All the decrees she set up at (her) waiting foot,
The shugurra, the crown of the plain, she put upon her bead,
Radiance she placed upon her countenance,
The . . . rod of lapis lazuli she gripped in (her) hand,
Small lapis lazuli stones she tied about her neck,
Sparkling . . . stones she fastened to her breast,
A gold ring she gripped in her band,
A . . . breastplate she bound about her breast,
All the garments of ladyship she arranged about her body,
. . . ointment she put on her face. p. 89
Inanna walked toward the nether world,
Her messenger Ninshubur walked at her side,
The pare Inanna says to Ninshubur:
“O (thou who art) my constant support,
My messenger of favorable words,
My carrier of supporting words,
I am now descending to the nether world.
“When I shall have come to the nether world,
Fill heaven with complaints for me,
In the assembly shrine cry out for me,
In the house of the gods rush about for me,
Lower thy eye for me, lower thy mouth for me,
With . . . lower thy great . . . for me,
Like a pauper in a single garment dress for me,
To the Ekur, the house of Enlil, all alone direct thy step.
“Upon thy entering the Ekur, the house of Enlil,
Weep before Enlil:
‘O father Enlil, let not thy daughter be put to death in the nether world,
Let not thy good metal be ground up into the dust of the nether world,
Let not thy good lapis lazuli be broken up into the stone of the stone-worker,
Let not thy boxwood be cut up into the wood of the wood-worker,
Let not the maid Inanna be put to death in the nether world.’
“If Enlil stands not by thee in this matter, go to Ur.
“In Ur upon thy entering the house of the . . . of the land,
The Ekishshirgal, the house of Nanna,
Weep before Nanna:
‘O Father Nanna, let not thy daughter be put to death in the nether world,
Let not thy good metal be ground up into the dust of the nether world,
Let not thy good lapis lazuli be broken up into the stone of the stone-worker,
Let not thy boxwood be cut up into the wood of the wood-worker,
Let not the maid Inanna be put to death in the nether world.’
“If Nanna stands not by thee in this matter, go to Eridu. p. 90
“In Eridu upon thy entering the house of Enki,
Weep before Enki:
‘O father Enki, let not thy daughter be put to death in the nether world,
Let not thy good metal be ground up into the dust of the nether world,
Let not thy good lapis lazuli be broken up into the stone of the stone-worker,
Let not thy boxwood be cut up into the wood of the wood-worker,
Let not the maid Inanna be put to death in the nether world.’
“Father Enki, the lord of wisdom,
Who knows the food of life, who knows the water of life,
He will surely bring me to life.”
Inanna walked toward the nether world,
To her messenger Ninshubur she says:
“Go, Ninshubur,
The word which I have commanded thee . . .”
When Inanna had arrived at the lapis lazuli palace of the nether world,
At the door of the nether world she acted evilly,
In the palace of the nether world she spoke evilly:
“Open the house, gatekeeper, open the house,
Open the house, Neti, open the house, all alone I would enter.”
Neti, the chief gatekeeper of the nether world,
Answers the pure Inanna:
“Who pray art thou?”
“I am the queen of heaven, the place where the sun rises.”
“If thou art the queen of heaven, the place where the sun rises,
Why pray hast thou come to the land of no return?
On the road whose traveller returns not how has thy heart led thee?”
The pure Inanna answers him:
“My elder sister Ereshkigal,
Because her husband, the lord Gugalanna, had been killed,
To witness the funeral rites,
. . .; so be it.”
Neti, the chief gatekeeper of the nether world,
Answers the pure Inanna:
“Stay, Inanna, to my queen let me speak,
To my queen Ereshkigal let me speak . . . let me speak.” p. 91
Neti, the chief gatekeeper of the nether world,
Enters the house of his queen Ereshkigal and says to her:
“O my queen, a maid,
Like a god . . .,
The door . . .,
. . .,
In Eanna . . .,
The seven divine decrees she has fastened at the side,
She has sought out the divine decrees, has placed them at her hand,
All the decrees she has set up at (her) waiting foot,
The shugurra, the crown of the plain, she has put upon her head,
Radiance she has placed upon her countenance,
The . . . rod of lapis lazuli she has gripped in (her) hand,
Small lapis lazuli stones she has tied about her neck,
Sparkling . . . stones she has fastened to her breast,
A gold ring she has gripped in her hand,
A . . . breastplate she has bound about her breast,
All her garments of ladyship she has arranged about her body,
. . . ointment she has put on her face.”
Then Ereshkigal . . .,
Answers Neti, her chief gatekeeper:
“Come, Neti, chief gatekeeper of the nether world,
Unto the word which I command thee, give ear.
Of the seven gates of the nether world, open their locks,
Of the gate Ganzir, the ‘face’ of the nether world, define its rules;
Upon her (Inanna’s) entering,
Bowed low . . . let her . . .”
Neti, the chief gatekeeper of the nether world,
Honored the word of his queen.
Of the seven gates of the nether world, he opened their locks,
Of the gate Ganzir, the ‘face’ of the nether world, he defined its rules.
To the pure Inanna he says:
“Come, Inanna, enter.”
Upon her entering the first gate,
The shugurra, the “crown of the plain” of her head, was removed.
“What, pray, is this?”
“Extraordinarily, O Inanna, have the decrees of the nether world been perfected,
O Inanna, do not question the rites of the nether world.” p. 92
Upon her entering the second gate,
The . . . rod of lapis lazuli was removed.
“What, pray, is this?”
“Extraordinarily, O Inanna, have the decrees of the nether world been perfected,
O Inanna, do not question the rites of the nether world.”
Upon her entering the third gate,
The small lapis lazuli stones of her neck were removed.
“What, pray, is this?”
“Extraordinarily, O Inanna, have the decrees of the nether world been perfected,
O Inanna, do not question the rites of the nether world.”
Upon her entering the fourth gate,
The sparkling . . . stones of her breast were removed.
“What, pray, is this?”
“Extraordinarily, O Inanna, have the decrees of the nether world been perfected,
O Inanna, do not question the rites of the nether world.”
Upon her entering the fifth gate,
The gold ring of her hand was removed.
“What, pray, is this?”
“Extraordinarily, O Inanna, have the decrees of the nether world been perfected,
O Inanna, do not question the rites of the nether world.”
Upon her entering the sixth gate,
The . . . breastplate of her breast was removed.
“What, pray, is this?”
“Extraordinarily, O Inanna, have the decrees of the nether world been perfected,
O Inanna, do not question the rites of the nether world.”
Upon her entering the seventh gate,
All the garments of ladyship of her body were removed.
“What, pray, is this?”
“Extraordinarily, O Inanna, have the decrees of the nether world been perfected,
O Inanna, do not question the rites of the nether world.”
Bowed low . . .
The pure Ereshkigal seated herself upon her throne,
The Anunnaki, the seven judges, pronounced judgment before her,
They fastened (their) eyes upon her, the eyes of death, p. 93
At their word, the word which tortures the spirit,
. . . ,
The sick woman was turned into a corpse,
The corpse was hung from a stake.
After three days and three nights had passed,
Her messenger Ninshubur,
Her messenger of favorable words,
Her carrier of supporting words,
Fills the heaven with complaints for her,
Cried for her in the assembly shrine,
Rushed about for her in the house of the gods,
Lowered his eye for her, lowered his mouth for her,
With . . . he lowered his great . . . for her,
Like a pauper in a single garment he dressed for her,
To the Ekur, the house of Enlil, all alone he directed his step.
Upon his entering the Ekur, the house of Enlil,
Before Enlil he weeps:
“O father Enlil, let not thy daughter be put to death in the nether world,
Let not thy good metal be ground up into the dust of the nether world,
Let not thy good lapis lazuli be broken up into the stone of the stone-worker,
Let not thy boxwood be cut up into the wood of the wood-worker,
Let not the maid Inanna be put to death in the nether world.”
Father Enlil answers Ninshubur:
“My daughter, in the ‘great above’ . . ., in the ‘great below’ . . .,
Inanna, in the ‘great above’ . . ., in the ‘great below’. . .,
The decrees of the nether world, the . . . decrees, to their place . . .,
Who, pray, to their place . . .?”
Father Enlil stood not by him in this matter, he went to Ur.
In Ur upon his entering the house of the . . . of the land,
The Ekishshirgal, the house of Nanna,
Before Nanna he weeps:
“O father Nanna, let not thy daughter be put to death in the nether world,
Let not thy good metal be ground up into the dust of the nether world, p. 94
Let not thy good lapis lazuli be broken up into the stone of the stone-worker,
Let not thy boxwood be cut up into the wood of the wood-worker,
Let not the maid Inanna be put to death in the nether world.”
Father Nanna answers Ninshubur:
“My daughter in the ‘great above’ . . ., in the ‘great below’ . . .,
Inanna, in the ‘great above’ . . ., in the ‘great below’ . . .,
The decrees of the nether world, the . . . decrees, to their place . . .,
Who, pray, to their place . . .?”
Father Nanna stood not by him in this matter, he went to Eridu.
In Eridu upon his entering the house of Enki,
Before Enki he weeps:
“O father Enki, let not thy daughter be put to death in the nether world,
Let not thy good metal be ground up into the dust of the nether world,
Let not thy good lapis lazuli be broken up into the stone of the stone-worker,
Let not thy boxwood be cut up into the wood of the wood-worker,
Let not the maid Inanna be put to death in the nether world.”
Father Enki answers Ninshubur:
“What now has my daughter done! I am troubled,
What now has Inanna done! I am troubled,
What now has the queen of all the lands done! I am troubled,
What now has the hierodule of heaven done! I am troubled.”
. . . he brought forth dirt (and) fashioned the kurgarru,
. . . he brought forth dirt (and) fashioned the kalaturru,
To the kurgarru he gave the food of life,
To the kalaturru he gave the water of life,
Father Enki says to the kalaturru and kurgarru:
. . . (nineteen lines destroyed)
“Upon the corpse hung from a stake direct the fear of the rays of fire,
Sixty times the food of life, sixty times the water of life, sprinkle upon it,
Verily Inanna will arise.”
. . . (twenty-four(?) lines destroyed) p. 95
Upon the corpse hung from a stake they directed the fear of the rays of fire,
Sixty times the food of life, sixty times the water of life, they sprinkled upon it,
Inanna arose.
Inanna ascends from the nether world,
The Anunnaki fled,
(And) whoever of the nether world that had descended peacefully to the nether world;
When Inanna ascends from the nether world,
Verily the dead hasten ahead of her.
Inanna ascends from the nether world,
The small demons like . . . reeds,
The large demons like tablet styluses,
Walked at her side.
Who walked in front of her, being without . . ., held a staff in the hand,
Who walked at her side, being without . . ., carried a weapon on the loin.
They who preceded her,
They who preceded Inanna,
(Were beings who) know not food, who know not water,
Who eat not sprinkled flour,
Who drink not libated wine,
Who take away the wife from the loins of man,
Who take away the child from the breast of the nursing mother.
Inanna ascends from the nether world;
Upon Inanna’s ascending from the nether world,
Her messenger Ninshubur threw himself at her feet,
Sat in the dust, dressed in dirt.
The demons say to the pure Inanna:
“O Inanna, wait before thy city, we would bring him to thee.”
The pure Inanna answers the demons:
“(He is) my messenger of favorable words,
My carrier of supporting words,
He fails not my directions,
He delays not my commanded word,
He fills heaven with complaints for me,
In the assembly shrine he cried out for me,
In the house of the gods he rushed about for me,
He lowered his eye for me, he lowered his mouth for me,
With . . . he lowered his great . . . for me, p. 96
Like a pauper in a single garment he dressed for me,
To the Ekur, the house of Enlil,
In Ur, to the house of Nanna,
In Eridu, to the house of Enki (he directed his step),
He brought me to life.”
“Let us precede her, in Umma to the Sigkurshagga let us precede her.”
In Umma, from the Sigkurshagga,
Shara threw himself at her feet,
Sat in the dust, dressed in dirt.
The demons say to the pure Inanna:
“O Inanna, wait before thy city, we would bring him to thee.”
The pure Inanna answers the demons:
(Inanna’s answer is destroyed)
“Let us precede her, in Badtibira to the Emushkalamma let us precede her.”
In Badtibira from the Emushkalamma,
. . . threw themselves at her feet,
Sat in the dust, dressed in dirt.
The demons say to the pure Inanna:
“O Inanna, wait before thy city, we would bring them to thee.”
The pure Inanna answers the demons:
(Inanna’s answer destroyed).

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