Page Level Ad

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Joseph Campbell: ...the Sumerian myth of the goddess Inanna's descent to the nether world.




The oldest recorded account of the passage through the gates of metamorphosis is the Sumerian
myth of the goddess Inanna's descent to the nether world.

From the "great above" she set her mind toward
the "great below,"

The goddess, from the "great above" she set her
mind toward the "great below,"

Inanna, from the "great above" she set her mind
toward the "great below."

My lady abandoned heaven, abandoned earth,
To the nether world she descended,
Inanna abandoned heaven, abandoned earth,
To the nether world she descended,
Abandoned lordship, abandoned ladyship,
To the nether world she descended.

She adorned herself with her queenly robes and jewels.

Seven divine decrees she fastened at her belt.

She was ready to enter the "land of no return," the nether world of death and darkness,
governed by her enemy and sister goddess, Ereshkigal.

In fear, lest her sister should put her to death, Inanna instructed Ninshubur,
her messenger, to go to heaven and set up a hue and cry for her
in the assembly hall of the gods if after three days she should
have failed to return.

Inanna descended.

She approached the temple made of lapis lazuli, and at the gate was met by the
chief gatekeeper, who demanded to know who she was and why she had come.

"I am the
queen of heaven, the place where the sun rises," she replied.

"If thou art the queen of heaven," he said, "the place where the sun
rises, why, pray, hast thou come to the land of no return"?

On the road whose traveler returns not, how has thy heart led thee?"

Inanna declared that she had come to attend the funeral rites of
her sister's husband, the lord Gugalanna; whereupon Neti, the
gatekeeper, bid her stay until he should report to Ereshkigal.

Neti was instructed to open to the queen of heaven the seven
gates, but to abide by the custom and remove at each portal a
part of her clothing.

To the pure Inanna he says:

"Come, Inanna, enter."
Upon her entering the first gate,
The shugurra, the "crown of the plain" of her head, was removed.
"What, pray, is this?"

"Extraordinarily, O Inanna, have the decrees of the
nether world been perfected,
0 Inanna, do not question the rites of the nether world."

Upon her entering the second gate,
The rod of lapis lazuli was removed.
"What, pray, is this?"
"Extraordinarily, 0 Inanna, have the decrees of
the nether world been perfected,
O Inanna, do not question the rites of the nether world."

Upon her entering the third gate,
The small lapis lazuli stones of her neck were removed.
"What, pray, is thin?"
"Extraordinarily, 0 Inanna, have the decrees of
the nether world been perfected,
0 Inanna, do not question the rites of the nether world."

Upon her entering the fourth gate,
The sparkling stones of her breast were removed.
"What, pray, is this?"
"Extraordinarily, O Inanna, have the decrees of
the nether world been perfected,
0 Inanna, do not question the rites of the nether world."

Upon her entering the fifth gate.
The gold ring of her hand was removed.
"What, pray, is this?"
"Extraordinarily, 0 Inanna, have the decrees of
the nether world been perfected,
O Inanna, do not question the rites of the nether world."

Upon her entering the sixth gate,
The breastplate of her breast was removed.
"What, pray, is this?"
"Extraordinarily, O Inanna, have the decrees of
the nether world been perfected,
O Inanna, do not question the rites of the nether world."

Upon her entering the seventh gate,
All the garments of ladyship of her body were removed.
"What, pray, is this?"
"Extraordinarily, 0 Inanna, have the decrees of
the nether world been perfected,
0 Inanna, do not question the rites of the nether world."

Naked, she was brought before the throne. She bowed low. The
seven judges of the nether world, the Anunnaki, sat before the
throne of Ereshkigal, and they fastened their eyes upon Inannai—
the eyes of death.

At their word, the word which tortures the spirit,
The sick woman was turned into a corpse,
The corpse was hung from a stake.

Inanna and Ereshkigal, the two sisters, light and dark respectively,
together represent, according to the antique manner of
symbolization, the one goddess in two aspects; and their confrontation
epitomizes the whole sense of the difficult road of trials.

The hero, whether god or goddess, man or woman, the figure in a
myth or the dreamer of a dream, discovers and assimilates his opposite
(his own unsuspected self) either by swallowing it or by
being swallowed.

One by one the resistances are broken.

He must put aside his pride, his virtue, beauty, and life, and bow or
submit to the absolutely intolerable.

Then he finds that he and his opposite are not of differing species, but one flesh.

The ordeal is a deepening of the problem of the first threshold
and the question is still in balance: Can the ego put itself to death?

For many-headed is this surrounding Hydra; one head cut off, two
more appear—unless the right caustic is applied to the mutilated
stump.

The original departure into the land of trials represented only the beginning of the
long and really perilous path of initiator)' conquests and moments of illumination.

Dragons have now to be slain and surprising barriers passed—again, again, and again.

Meanwhile there will be a multitude of preliminary victories, unretainable
ecstasies, and momentary glimpses of the wonderful land. ~Joseph Campbell,
Hero with a Thousand Faces, Pages 86-88

to the nether world.

From the "great above" she set her mind toward
the "great below,"

The goddess, from the "great above" she set her
mind toward the "great below,"

Inanna, from the "great above" she set her mind
toward the "great below."

My lady abandoned heaven, abandoned earth,
To the nether world she descended,
Inanna abandoned heaven, abandoned earth,
To the nether world she descended,
Abandoned lordship, abandoned ladyship,
To the nether world she descended.

She adorned herself with her queenly robes and jewels.

Seven divine decrees she fastened at her belt.

She was ready to enter the "land of no return," the nether world of death and darkness,
governed by her enemy and sister goddess, Ereshkigal.

In fear, lest her sister should put her to death, Inanna instructed Ninshubur,
her messenger, to go to heaven and set up a hue and cry for her
in the assembly hall of the gods if after three days she should
have failed to return.

Inanna descended.

She approached the temple made of lapis lazuli, and at the gate was met by the
chief gatekeeper, who demanded to know who she was and why she had come.

"I am the
queen of heaven, the place where the sun rises," she replied.

"If thou art the queen of heaven," he said, "the place where the sun
rises, why, pray, hast thou come to the land of no return"?

On the road whose traveler returns not, how has thy heart led thee?"

Inanna declared that she had come to attend the funeral rites of
her sister's husband, the lord Gugalanna; whereupon Neti, the
gatekeeper, bid her stay until he should report to Ereshkigal.

Neti was instructed to open to the queen of heaven the seven
gates, but to abide by the custom and remove at each portal a
part of her clothing.

To the pure Inanna he says:

"Come, Inanna, enter."
Upon her entering the first gate,
The shugurra, the "crown of the plain" of her head, was removed.
"What, pray, is this?"

"Extraordinarily, O Inanna, have the decrees of the
nether world been perfected,
0 Inanna, do not question the rites of the nether world."

Upon her entering the second gate,
The rod of lapis lazuli was removed.
"What, pray, is this?"
"Extraordinarily, 0 Inanna, have the decrees of
the nether world been perfected,
O Inanna, do not question the rites of the nether world."

Upon her entering the third gate,
The small lapis lazuli stones of her neck were removed.
"What, pray, is thin?"
"Extraordinarily, 0 Inanna, have the decrees of
the nether world been perfected,
0 Inanna, do not question the rites of the nether world."

Upon her entering the fourth gate,
The sparkling stones of her breast were removed.
"What, pray, is this?"
"Extraordinarily, O Inanna, have the decrees of
the nether world been perfected,
0 Inanna, do not question the rites of the nether world."

Upon her entering the fifth gate.
The gold ring of her hand was removed.
"What, pray, is this?"
"Extraordinarily, 0 Inanna, have the decrees of
the nether world been perfected,
O Inanna, do not question the rites of the nether world."

Upon her entering the sixth gate,
The breastplate of her breast was removed.
"What, pray, is this?"
"Extraordinarily, O Inanna, have the decrees of
the nether world been perfected,
O Inanna, do not question the rites of the nether world."

Upon her entering the seventh gate,
All the garments of ladyship of her body were removed.
"What, pray, is this?"
"Extraordinarily, 0 Inanna, have the decrees of
the nether world been perfected,
0 Inanna, do not question the rites of the nether world."

Naked, she was brought before the throne. She bowed low. The
seven judges of the nether world, the Anunnaki, sat before the
throne of Ereshkigal, and they fastened their eyes upon Inannai—
the eyes of death.

At their word, the word which tortures the spirit,
The sick woman was turned into a corpse,
The corpse was hung from a stake.

Inanna and Ereshkigal, the two sisters, light and dark respectively, together represent, according to the antique manner of symbolization, the one goddess in two aspects; and their confrontation epitomizes the whole sense of the difficult road of trials.

The hero, whether god or goddess, man or woman, the figure in a myth or the dreamer of a dream, discovers and assimilates his opposite
(his own unsuspected self) either by swallowing it or by being swallowed.

One by one the resistances are broken.

He must put aside his pride, his virtue, beauty, and life, and bow or
submit to the absolutely intolerable.

Then he finds that he and his opposite are not of differing species, but one flesh.

The ordeal is a deepening of the problem of the first threshold and the question is still in balance: Can the ego put itself to death?

For many-headed is this surrounding Hydra; one head cut off, two more appear—unless the right caustic is applied to the mutilated stump.

The original departure into the land of trials represented only the beginning of the
long and really perilous path of initiator)' conquests and moments of illumination.

Dragons have now to be slain and surprising barriers passed—again, again, and again.

Meanwhile there will be a multitude of preliminary victories, unretainable ecstasies, and momentary glimpses of the wonderful land. ~Joseph Campbell, Hero with a Thousand Faces, Pages 86-88