Descent of Inanna
- A mythic poem dating from around 1750 BCE, surviving in at least 30 inscribed clay tablets with more than 400 lines of text and rediscovered in the excavation of Nippur, the ancient Sumerian religious and cultural center (now in Iraq). The principal interpreter, Samuel Noah Kramer, worked with folklorist and storyteller Diane Wolkstein to present an evocative understanding of this and other material relating to Inanna, the Sumerian goddess of heaven and earth, also known to the Akkadians as Ishtar. Wolkstein represented the descent according to Mircea Eliade’s assertion that shamanic initiation follows a universal pattern that includes death, dismemberment, and rebirth. Another Inanna myth in which the goddess has a tree made into a throne and a bed has also been interpreted in the light of Eliade’s claims that shamans universally ascend into the upper world via trees or poles. The popularization of this understanding of shamanism particularly follows from the psychology of Carl Jung (himself influential on Eliade). A preeminent example of this is in Sylvia Perera’s popular Descent to the Goddess: A Way of Initiation for Women (1981). Websites promulgating the notion that Inanna’s descent was a shamanic initiation and Jungian integrative process continue to proliferate. However, a straightforward reading of the text shows that Inanna did not return from the underworld changed in any way and did not conduct shamanic rituals. Rather, she descended into the realm of the shadowy dead to witness the funeral of her brother-in-law, the Bull of Heaven. The shamanic initiation theory is an entirely new myth that fits a neo-shamanic understanding perfectly and Sumerian mythology not at all.
Historical dictionary of shamanism. Graham Harvey and Robert J. Wallis. 2007.
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Descent of Inanna, The — An ancient Sumerian myth and epic poem dealing with Inanna (or Ishtar), goddess of love and sexual desire, and her lover/ consort, the shepherd Dumuzi. Several versions of the story, which is sometimes called The Descent of Ishtar, were… … Ancient Mesopotamia dictioary
Inanna — A leading Sumerian goddess and the most popular deity in all of ancient Mesopotamia. inanna (also ishtar or Astarte) was known as the goddess of love and sexual passion, but she was also associated with war and was seen as a protector of kings … Ancient Mesopotamia dictioary
Inanna — This is Inanna on the Ishtar Vase in the French museum Louvre. Queen of Heaven Goddess of Love, War, Fertility and Lust Abode … Wikipedia
Descent to the underworld — Orfeu în Infern (Orpheus in Hell, ca. 1870) by Mihail Ştefănescu The descent to the underworld is a mytheme of comparative mythology found in a diverse number of religions from around the world, including Christianity. The hero or upper world… … Wikipedia
Tammuz (deity) — For other uses, see Tammuz. Fertile Crescent myth series … Wikipedia
hell — like, adj. /hel/, n. 1. the place or state of punishment of the wicked after death; the abode of evil and condemned spirits; Gehenna or Tartarus. 2. any place or state of torment or misery: They made their father s life a hell on earth. 3.… … Universalium
Gallas — In ancient Sumerian mythology, frightful demons who snatched people and dragged them down into the Underworld. The Gallas (or Galla) also did other tasks for the queen of that nether realm, Ereshkigal, and for the Annunaki, who in some ancient … Ancient Mesopotamia dictioary
Dumuzi — The Sumerian god of shepherds and their flocks and the lover/consort of Inanna (or Ishtar), goddess of love and sexual passion. In the myth and epic poem known as The Descent of Inanna, the goddess chooses Dumuzi (or Tammuz) as a substitute… … Ancient Mesopotamia dictioary
Ereshkigal — In Mesopotamian mythology, the goddess who ruled the Land of No Return (the Underworld). Ereshkigal was the older sister of Inanna (or Ishtar), goddess of love and sexual passion, of whom Ereshkigal was very jealous because she was unable to… … Ancient Mesopotamia dictioary
Queen of heaven (Antiquity) — Queen of Heaven was a title given to a number of ancient goddesses in the ancient Mediterranean and Near East, in particular Isis, Innana and Astarte. Forms and content of worship varied. The title Queen of Heaven was later used by Christians of… … Wikipedia