The descent

The path of the descent has “impelled” the mystic since the beginning of recorded human experience. In many traditional societies, initiatory tribal rites are often characterized by a symbolic descent into and ascent from the labyrinthian Earth Mother. These rituals give women and men the experience of being reborn on a spiritual plane. According to Mircea Eliade, traditional rituals of the descent tend to follow a universal pattern: separation from the family; Regression to a pre-natal state, the cosmic night; death, dismemberment, suffering; rebirth; and killing of another. In other traditional societies, only certain people are “called” to travel to the underworld, for the path to the Great Below is treacherous and often there is no return […].

Inanna is Queen of Heaven and Earth, but she does not know the underworld. Until her ear opens to the Great Below, her understanding is necessarily limited […]. In order to fully appreciate or “know” what is said or meant, a great understanding is needed – an understanding of all things. It is the Great Below, and the knowledge of death and rebirth, life and stasis, that will make Inanna an “Honoured Counselor” and guide to the land. The moment Inanna opens her ear to the Great Below, her journey begins. Yet although her journey begins at once, the way to the underworld is slow and laborious. To enter the spiritual realm of the underworld, Inanna must give up her earthly powers […].

Ereshkigal, the Queen of the Underworld. Lives in a dry and dark realm […]. In many ways, Ereshkigal is the other, neglected side of Inanna […].

At the same time that Ereshkigal is moaning for her “inside” and her “outside”, Inanna is dying. Ereshkigal had willed Inanna´s death; yet she can scarcely bear it, for Inanna is the other side of herself. The interplay between Inanna and Ereshkigal is complex and dynamic. Although Inanna had seemed to descend without cause to the “kur”, it might now be understood that Ereshkigal, or the dark side of Inanna, had gone into labor and needed to be reborn. It was this labor or “call” that Inanna had heard from the Great Above. ~ Diane Wolkstein.
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Spiraling into the Great Below…