Inanna

This video discusses Inanna who was a mythic goddess from the Mesopotamia in what is now referred to as Indo-Europe. She flourished in a time way before western civilization, as we know it, took over, in an era of goddess cultures. This era is estimated to have gone back as far as 25,000 B.C. and ended around 3000 B.C., a period of time during which goddesses were revered in several Indo-European areas. Male gods were nonexistent, and the culture went from having a mother figure to several female goddesses who had relationships and closely mirrored human life.

One of these female goddesses was Inanna, a really interesting woman who was incredibly revered and had an important position within the spiritual ideology of her time. She was very influential and even had rituals that were developed around her that would take places at various times during the year. One myth that features her is called the Descent of Inanna, a story that has several components that complicate it. Essentially, Inanna was the head of a village and had both a husband and a sister. Her sister, Ereshkigal, ruled the underworld and one day called to Inanna for help. Inanna, after telling her servant to save her and find a way to get her out of the underworld should anything happen, descends into the underworld and comes across seven gates that she needs to pass to get to her sister. At each of these seven gates, she has to take off an article of clothing, and at the end she is naked and meets up with Ereshkigal. As it turns out, her sister had tricked her and never needed her assistance; Inanna is murdered by her sister and left to rot.

At this point, Inanna’s servant informs the gods of Inanna’s status and tells them she needs to be rescued. Only one god listens to the servant and sends down two androgynous gnomes who descend into the underworld and provide consolation for a distraught Ereshkigal. Inanna’s sister then brings her back to live and the festival in Inanna’s village starts up again.

One aspect of this part of the story is that Inanna gets rid of her husband, who had nothing to do with saving her from the underworld. Instead, Inanna keeps her loyal servant, and looking at this from an LGBT perspective gives us an interesting viewpoint. Firstly, we can see obvious loyalty and love between Inanna and her servant; moreover, the importance of the androgynous figures in this story is also stressed. It is apparent that in the era of Inanna, myths freely discuss gender variance, androgyny, and lesbian eros. Today, on the other hand, these kinds of myths have only been interpreted from a heterosexist standpoint. Breaking these myths down, however, give us a lot more to look at.

The Descent of Inanna has an important psychological component, for instance (in addition to its important contribution to LGBT history). The descent of Inanna into the underworld mirrors our own descent as humans into our shadows and dark places. These are places that we have to come face-to-face with in order to grow stronger and become more whole, ultimately allowing us to take responsibility for ourselves. Inanna then passes the 7 gates, which can be interpreted as hitting defense mechanisms, or aspects of the ego that we’ve developed that have helped us survive in the world but are no longer serving us. As she passes each gate, these ego components of herself are shed, after which she is murdered. The story is metaphorical, meaning her murder stands for a resurrection. This resurrection of Inanna mirrors the kind of resurrection we have in our own lives in which we rise to the top after having hit an emotional or physical bottom, which can be through addiction, the end of a relationship, etc. Awful as these events can be, they can also be viewed as opportunities to grow stronger and become better versions of oneself after gaining resilience. These events and subsequent resurrections helps us develop a stronger sense of self, leading to behavior change and ultimately more self-esteem.

It is apparent, then, that the LGBT myth of the Descent of Inanna also contains a powerful psychological message about how to fully awaken and become who we are.

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Posted in Blog, Dr. Lauren Costine, LGBT, Psychology, Therapy, vlog
Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it -Rumi