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The Goddess Inanna

"The Queen of Heaven".
the most important goddess of the
Sumerian pantheon in ancient Mesopotamia.
She is the goddess of love, fertility, and war.
The Akkadians called her
Ishtar.

Wonderful Link:
http://www.hitching.org/audiolib.shtml
Inannas Myths retold - you can listen to it right there.

 

big pictures if you save


You are about to enter the shrine of the ancient sumerian goddess Inanna.
(Entrance at the bottom of this page)

First you shall have and read some information on this goddess of old,
so that you approach her in the appropriate way.


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Selection


Other Names and Titles Her Role  
Relations in the Sumerian Pantheon Her Signs and Symbols
Her Image Representation Cult Centers
Click here to have only a short info about her. Her Hymns (lots of texts)

Another Article about Inanna And now enter her shrine

 


Other Names and Titles


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Like many goddesses she who's name means "Queen of Heaven"
had many names which represented aspects of her power and glory.


Other spelling of Inanna: Innin, Innini,

Nin-me-sar-ra, the Lady of Myriad Offices / or Queen of all the Me

Ninsianna as the personification of the planet Venus

Nin.an.na, which means 'queen of the sky'.

Nu-ugiganna, the Hierodule of Heaven

Usunzianna, Exalted Cow of Heaven

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 Relations in the Sumerian Pantheon

Inanna is regarded as a daughter of the sky-god An. But she was also seen as the daughter of the moon-goddess Ningal and her consort Nanna. She is the sister of the underworld goddess Ereschkial and of the sungod Utu.

The Sumerian great "Lady Queen of Heaven" (Ninanna) who appears in two sources:  the Gilgamesh Epic, where she aids the hero and tries to seduce him, and in the Cycle of Inanna, a collection of poems concerning her relation - in life and death - to her brother and lover, the vegetation-god Dumuzi (akk. Tammuz).

Inanna figures prominently in various myths, such as 'Inanna's descent to the underworld'. (click to view the source text)

In this particular myth she travels to the realm of the dead and claims its ruling. However, her sister Ereshkigal, who rules the place, sentences her to death. With Inanna's death, however, nature died with her and nothing would grow anymore. Through the intervention of the god Enki she could be reborn if another person took her place. She choose her beloved consort Dumuzi, who would from then on rule the underworld every half year. This myth has some relations to the Demetermyth as well as to celtic believes. The vegetation dies and gets reborn.

During the time of growth, which was in the Near-East the autumn when the first rain after the long summer fell, the people celebrated the "Holy Marriage" of Inanna and Dumuzi - yearly at the autumn equinox as the New-Year-Festival- which brought the land fertility and growth again, because Dumuzi had returned from the underworld and made love with Inanna again.

The poems story in short:

Inanna makes her descent into the dark realm, kur- nu-gi-a, of her sister, Ereshkigal.  Inanna passed the seven portals of kur-nu-gi-a,and at each of the portals she was obliged to remove an item of clothing,until at last she stood before Ereshkigal, totally naked. Ereshkigal fastens on Inanna, and for three days she hangs like a carcass on a hook. Her faithful female companion, Ninshubur ("Queen of the East") whom she warns to go in search of help for her if she does not return, appeals to the god of wisdom, responds to her and sends two creatures to plead with Ershkigal for Inanna's release. They find Ereshkigal in the process of giving birth. Inanna is restored to life and ascends like the moon after its three days' death to assume her place once more as Queen of Heaven.

The lesson of this ritual drama for Sumerian culture was the deep realization that death is not inimical to life but an essential aspect of its totality and, indeed, the passageway to a new cycle of life. So her journey into the Netherworld was both a literal and symbolic enactment of a natural world occurrence and its mirror in the human psyche as represented by her earthly representatives: the priestesses of Sumeria.

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Her Image Representation

Inanna is portrayed as a fickle person who first attracts men and then rejects them. (See Gilgamesh-Epos) She is depicted as richly dressed goddess or as a naked woman.

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Her Role

(Source: Article by Mary Lynn Schroeder) 

As the "Lady of Myriad Offices," she acted as a mediator of differences. Her duty is to light fires as well as put theme out, to cause tears as well as joy, also:

To pester, insult, deride, desecrate- and to venerate- is your domain, Inanna.
Downheartedness, calamity, heartache- and joy and good cheer-is your domain, Inanna.
Trembling, affright, terror- dazzling and glory- is your domain, Inanna.

(Jacobsen Treasures 141)

As the "Lady of the Palace," she ruled as queen. As "Mother of All," she was the goddess of fertility, birth, and nature. The importance of which shows up in the following Sumerian proverb that may be a blessing or "toast" given to a young man by his father or close friend:

May (the goddess) Inanna cause a hot-limbed wife to lie down for you;
May she bestow upon you broad-armed sons;
May she seek out for you a place of happiness!

(Gordon 115: 1.147)

As the goddess of war and strife, she held the title Nin- kur-ra-igi-ga, "the queen who eyes the highland" meaning that other lands feared her. Battle was called the "dance of Inanna, and she was at the very heart of it. She was "the star of the battle-cry, who can make brothers who have lived together in harmony fight each other". She is known for causing the fall of the city of Agade:

The gates of Agade, how they lay prostrate;....the holy
Inanna leaves untouched their gifts;
the Ulmas (Inanna's temple) is fear ridden (since) she has
gone from the city, left it;
like a maid who forsakes her chamber, the holy Inanna has
forsaken her Agade shrine;
like a warrior with raised weapons she attacked the city in
fierce battle, made it turn its breast to the enemy.

(Kraemer Sumerians 63)

Bound into this skill of war is her power over the rains and storms in which she is known for being both a gentle rain, and a tempest (Jacobsen Treasures 136).

Proud Queen of the Earth Gods, Supreme Among the Heaven Gods, Loud Thundering Storm, you pour your rain over all the lands and all the people.
You make the heavens tremble and the earth quake.
Great Priestess, who can soothe your troubled heart?
You flash like lightening over the highlands; you throw your firebrands across the earth.
Your deafening command, whistling like the South Wind, splits apart great mountains.
You trample the disobedient like a wild bull; heaven and earth tremble.
Holy Priestess, who can soothe your troubled heart?
Your frightful cry descending from the heavens devours its victims.
Your quivering hand causes the midday heat to hover over the sea.
Your night time stalking of the heavens chills the land with its dark breeze.
Holy Inanna, the riverbanks overflow with the flood-waves of your heart....

(Wolkstein, Kraemer 95)

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Her Signs and Symbols