The Myth

The Sumerian myth “The Descent of Inanna” at over 5,000 years old is the earliest recorded narrative work in the history of the world. Written by a woman and high priestess Enheduanna, it tells the story of Inanna, the celebrated Goddess of Heaven and Earth, who hears her sister Ereshkigal’s cries from the Great Below and feels compelled to journey there. Inanna travels through seven gates, stripping herself of her worldly powers, in order to unite with and bear witness to a sister-self living in darkness, in filth, and in pain. During her journey to the underworld, Inanna experiences a deep transformation. Ereshkigal experiences a profound shift as well, when her raw and full self is finally witnessed/heard/seen.

In the introduction to her book Descent to the Goddess: A Way of Initiation for Women, Sylvia Brinton Perera writes, “Renewal in a feminine source-ground and spirit is a vitally important aspect of modern woman’s quest for wholeness. We women who have succeeded in the world are usually ‘daughters of the father’ – that is, well-adapted to a masculine-oriented society – and have repudiated our own full feminine instincts and energy patterns, just as the culture has maimed or derogated most of them. We need to return to and redeem what the patriarchy has often seen only as a dangerous threat and called terrible mother, dragon, or witch.”

inanna reed symbol

Resource Books for Study

Descent to the Goddess: A Way of Initiation for Women by Sylvia Brinton Perera

Inanna, Queen of Heaven and Earth by Diane Wolkstein & Stanley Kramer

Uncursing the Dark by Betty de Shong Meador

“When women reassert their relationship with the wildish nature, they are gifted with a permanent and internal watcher, a knower, a visionary, an oracle, and inspiratrice, and intuitive, a maker, a creator, and inventor, and a listener who guide, suggest, and urge vibrant life in the inner and outer worlds.”

– Clarissa Pinkola Estés