Motherhood/ Pregnancy & Birth

The Story of Inanna: Part 1

When I first heard the story of Inanna at my Advanced Birthing From Within workshop from the amazing Pam England herself,  it pretty much rocked my world. I still can’t really articulate well how it has changed my life. It is one of those things that you can know on a deep, internal level of understanding but to articulate and teach it is a whole other thing.


The story of Inanna is ancient. Dating back over 2000 years in Sumeria, what is now current day Iraq. It is a timeless story in that you can always relate it to something current in the world or privately within your life. Inanna is an archetype, a symbol for ourselves and our personal journeys. As you read this story, see what comes up for you. Where does your mind and heart go? I wrote this story geared more towards the birth and postpartum experience, but it relates to any kind of experience in your life: a death, a divorce, a betrayal, in which that after the experience your world view has been changed.

The Story of Inanna: Part 1

When I first heard it, I would think for hours upon hours about how the story related to my life. It has very much helped me process cycles/experiences in my life, especially the super duper tough ones. Simply knowing that all tough times come to end and that in the end something is born anew, that each journey or difficult time is a cycle, is very comforting to me.


The Goddess Inanna was a powerful priestess, a beloved Queen to her people. Her power came from her ability to be creative and harness creative energy. She was feminine beyond the merely maternal. She had everything she could ever want in life but something was nagging at her.


She ignored and pushed it down for a long time, but finally she could not resist it any longer. From the Great Above she opened her ear to the Great Below. In Sumerian, the word for ear and wisdom are the same. Thus, when Inanna turned her ear to the Great Below, the implication is that she was seeking wisdom and understanding.


She answered her call to go on a journey, on a descent. Is there something calling to you that is awaiting your answer? Is there a mystery about yourself you must explore?


This was a spiritual journey, a spiritual initiation, about personal growth. To go on this journey, she had to abandon her celestial life, her temples, her family, everything must be left behind. This willingness to voluntarily let go of the mundane values of the world is an essential requirement of any soul undertaking such a journey.


At the same time she is voluntarily giving up her life, her status and power, she is preparing for her journey in the only way she knows how. She gathered up her Me, which are her personal belongings to protect her and serve her well on her journey . She gathers her crown, lapis bead earrings, a double strand of beads necklace, a breastplate, her golden hip girdle, her lapis measuring rod and her breechcloth. Each item represents something about her and qualities about herself.


You can relate this to your life by thinking about the things you hold dear about your life or about yourself. The things that you think would protect you on such a journey. Maybe your college education? Or you financial status? Or a friendly personality trait?


Before she leaves, she also discusses a plan with Ninshurbur, her friend and faithful servant. Ninshurbur pleads with her not go. She tells Inanna, that no one returns unscathed. Ninshurbur is the like the part of you, that small part of us, that stays above while the soul ascends on the journey, the part that still conscious and functioning. In your life, Ninshurbur can be an actual person or more of a symbol of your Higher Self.


Even after Ninshurbur’s pleading Inanna still answers the call. Just like the beautiful Mary Oliver poem, The Journey. “One day you knew what you had to do, and begun.”  But Inanna does tell Ninshurbur, that if she does not return in three days, to sound the drum and go to her fathers to come rescue her.


To be continued tomorrow…

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