Inanna's descent to the netherworld and analytical psychology: what has the mistress of all the lands done?

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Contextualising Inanna’s Descent: What has the mistress of all lands done? The Sumerian culture of the Ancient Near East goes back at least five and half thousand years, though the goddess Inanna has roots going back even further. The striking thing about Inanna even to modern eyes is that she is not a domestic goddess: she controls many of the Sumerian me, attributes of civilisation which vary from carpentry and kindling a fire, to the art of song and kissing⁠. The Descent of Inanna describes the goddess’s descent to the underworld ruled over by her sister goddess Ereshkigal. Much has been written about this work from a feminist perspective, however, the poem is only one of several texts about Inanna that have survived and the stories they have to tell about this goddess puts a different slant on the Descent. Drawing on Jung’s model of the psyche which promotes the concepts of balance and of leaving a space for the unconscious to speak, it is clear that Inanna is a character in need of reflection and stillness: she is not beaten in battle, and she is not defeated in debate, nor is she put in her place by a lover or partner. She is a ruler, a holder of knowledge, an active warrior and lover, and it is only the goddess of the underworld herself who can ‘pause’ Inanna, by insisting that she strip away her persona, her outward symbols of power, and enforces ultimate stillness upon her hanging her as a piece of meat on a hook. The Descent of Inanna tells the story of Inanna’s decision to look into the abyss which creates balance to Inanna’s otherwise highly active character. This paper will re-evaluate The Descent of Inanna from both a feminist and Jungian perspective.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Descent of the Soul and the Archaic: Katábasis and Depth Psychology
EditorsPaul Bishop, Terence Dawson, Leslie Gardner
Place of PublicationAbingdon
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)9781003054139
ISBN (Print)9780367515010
Publication statusPublished - 30 Sept 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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