Inanna’s journey to the Underworld

January 2, 2008 at 5:15 pm (original poetry/prose, the Muse sings)

The Lady sits in the circle of the fire’s warmth, staring blankly into it. She has Things to Inspire Healing gathered in a basket beside her, ready for The Right Time. She is always waiting for that time. She hears you near, and speaks, but her eyes never stray from the dancing flames.

“Let me tell yeh a story, one that is not about you or I, … if yeh will listen.  It is not a pleasant tale… ”

This is the story of Inanna visiting Erishkigal, as it was told me, many years ago…

They were sisters, Goddesses, in a land harsh enough that the people had ample evidence that the Gods were not kind, at least not for kindness’s sake alone.

Inanna was Goddess of passion, of love, fertility, warfare, the Queen of Heaven. You may have heard Her called Ishtar. Erishkigal was Goddess of the Underworld, with Her husband; it was said Her hands were the talons of birds, and Her head and shoulders that of a lioness. You may have heard Her called Irkalla.

Inanna received word that Her sister’s husband had died. Wishing to assist Erishkigal through Her grief, Inanna told Her own husband, Dumuzi, that She would be going to visit Her. He cautioned Her, reminding Her how dangerous a road and place it was, but Inanna, the Queen of Passion, was insistent. She dressed in Her finery, and set out.

The road was long, and hard, and took longer than expected. Dumuzi would assume Inanna dead, and throw a mourning party. But She would not learn of that until much later.

In the dark tunnel leading into the Underworld, Inanna came to a guarded gate. The guards told Her, You may not pass this gate with Your fine jewelry. So She removed them, leaving them there, and travelled on.

After a long, cold stretch, Inanna came to another gate. The guards there told Her, You may not pass this gate with Your fine gown and sandals. So she removed them, too, and travelled on.

After a walk through long passages of sharp stones, Inanna arrived at the final gate into the Underworld. The guards there stopped Her, and would not allow Her to pass, unless She give up Her crown of stars. This the Queen of Heaven did, and stepped into the Underworld with nothing, nothing.

Inanna found her sister alone upon Her throne: slumped, despondent with grief. Inanna said, I am here, sister, to soothe You, but Erishkigal did not stir or raise Her eyes. When Inanna came close, the Queen of the Underworld’s great talons seized her by her soft shoulders, spun her round, and impaled her upon a great spike set into the wall.

The Queen of Heaven remained hanging there, undying, her breast pierced by a great metal spike, as her sister returned to Her throne, and Her grief.



  1. Karen Weiss said,

    Only half of the story. Why?

    • DarklingRose said,

      ahh, that only reflects my mood at the time.

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