By Lishtar (Dr. Roseane Lopes) poster presented in the 47e Rencontre Assyriologique - Helsinki, Finland - July 2nd to 6th 2001.
Integrity is made of the innumerable elements that compose the whole, comprising a set of characteristics, such as standing tall, being untouched when involved by not losing one´s sense of Self, staying intact, honesty, continuity, sincerity, obedience to one´s code of conduct and inner values, conscience, prudence, constancy, amiability, and holiness. For the purposes of this poster, firstly it will be put aside the equation of integrity to sexual ignorance, also described as innocence, or the quality of the sexually untouched. Terms that define integrity as the embodiment of the whole take precedence here, simply because the definition of integrity or integritas is the entire. From the Latin root of integrity derives the action to integrate, which means to combine disparate elements into a harmonious entity. Secondly, due to the reduced space provided by a poster presentation and the long evolution of a complex deity as Inanna/Ishtar, Her mythology and cycle will be approached in wide lines within the framework of Jungian psychology and the Individuation process. A study of the different characterizations of the goddess, i.e. according to Her representations as Inanna of Uruk, Ishtar of Nineveh, Ur, Nippur etc. is certainly needed and would bring to light many more of Her aspects we still find hard to understand or conciliate.
In this poster, we propose that Mesopotamian religion being both astral and grounded in natural phenomena (Jacobsen, 1976) assigned to Inanna/Ishtar the image of the Morning and Evening Star, a symbol for astral integration, because the Morning Star announces the coming of the new day as well as the Evening Star brings the return of the night. According to Her mythology from Sumerian sources, Inanna/Ishtar is the daughter of the Moon God Nanna (Akkadian Suen or Sin), and sister to Utu/Shamash, the Sun God. In psychological terms this means that the Sumerians saw lunar consciousness (Nanna/Suen) giving birth to solar rational consciousness (Utu/Shamash) with a feminine phenomenon as the border (The Morning and Evening star). By being essentially dynamic and a wanderer (not fixed or homebound) like the Morning and Evening Star, Inanna/Ishtar thus expands the ways in which we receive and interpret the world, marking a new type of awareness that also encourages us to trespass inner and outer barriers. Because deity, after all, should encompass the Whole, this is probably the astral analogy for the full spectrum of Love and War in Inanna/Ishtar. We therefore suggest that in the light of Jungian psychology Inanna´s character can be better understood in terms of conciliation/integration of opposites, and that as the Goddess of Love and War, Her archetype encompasses the full spectrum of Love-Connection-Relatedness, Inspiration and Creativity and their opposite manifestations as War/Aggression/Drive/Libido and boundless Energy.
Depth Psychology according to Dr. Carl Jung proposes that in the totality of a human being, which he calls the Self there is first a conscious and an unconscious component, as well as a series of mental images or constructs, the archetypes. Archetypes can take many guises, and their repeated forms that can be found in myth and religion since the beginning of times. Archetypes have both social and spiritual power for the civilizations they refer to, and can be studied down the ages among all peoples. The aim of Depth Psychology is for the human being to achieve Individuation. Individuation is the process whereby we develop towards recognizing and becoming whole individuals, able to utilize our full potential. It is a process that continues throughout our lives, and in which four phases are usually recognized:
Thus, Individuation can be defined as the process of integrating the aspects of the personality, which should be recognized, discarded and/or reshaped to live a more rewarding reality. In the Cycle of Inanna/Ishtar these stages are very clear.
2.1 INDIVIDUATION ACCORDING TO STATIC AND DYNAMIC FORCES
It is also possible to describe the phases of the individuation process according to the manifestations of static and dynamic forces both feminine and masculine acting in the individual's psyche as s/he grows. These four phases can be identified as the following:
Each phase is superimposed on the foregoing phases, and each has a contribution to make to a healthy development. Mesopotamian society recognized the dimension to each of the four phases in the gods and goddesses of their pantheon. Inanna was the quintessential Dynamic Feminine, the Trespasser of all Boundaries and bridge between the gods and men and women alike.
3. INANNA - THE NON-DOMESTIC NON-MATERNAL FEMININE Inanna/Ishtar provides us perhaps with the most complete portrait
of the Non-Domestic, Non-Homebound and Non-Maternal Divine Feminine of Antiquity
from adolescence to maturity. She is no doubt very feminine, but definetly "not
feminine as night" (Perera,1981). The question is, what is Her femininity based
on? Perhaps the best way to examine Inanna/Ishtar´s femininity is in the light
of what She is not in comparison to traditional models of femininity and roles
played by women in society. Only then it is possible to apprehend how the Quintessential
Dynamic Non-Maternal Goddess differs from Her Sisters in the pantheon.
3. INANNA - THE NON-DOMESTIC NON-MATERNAL FEMININE
Inanna/Ishtar provides us perhaps with the most complete portrait of the Non-Domestic, Non-Homebound and Non-Maternal Divine Feminine of Antiquity from adolescence to maturity. She is no doubt very feminine, but definetly "not feminine as night" (Perera,1981). The question is, what is Her femininity based on? Perhaps the best way to examine Inanna/Ishtar´s femininity is in the light of what She is not in comparison to traditional models of femininity and roles played by women in society. Only then it is possible to apprehend how the Quintessential Dynamic Non-Maternal Goddess differs from Her Sisters in the pantheon.
Different from the Great Mother Goddesses of Mesopotamia, i.e. Ninhursag, Ninlil, Ningal, Tiamat, etc. Inanna/Ishtar does not nurture from Her womb, neither gives biological birth or create from clay great heroes, as Aruru, gave birth to Enkidu out of a pinch of clay in the Epic of Gilgamesh. Inanna/Ishtar gives spiritual birth to heroes and kings through Inspiration and Encouragement, i.e. She fosters growth through action, because She has the Plant of Life in Her power (as in the Myth of Etana). As the Quintessential Lover and Assertive Warrior, Inanna/Ishtar demands attention, care and respect from the Beloved from the standpoint of partners who are at the same level of understanding. Furthermore, a Great Mother Goddess is all-giving and all-forgiving.
A lover, on the other hand, is never all-forgiving if the vows to Love are neglected, forgotten, or, even worse, betrayed. Thus Inanna´s/Ishtar´s inflexibility to condemn Dumuzi to the Underworld in the myth of the Descent, when the Royal Shepherd did not mourn for Her during the during the three days She had been even put to death in the Land of No Return. Dumuzi/Tammuz behavior was unacceptable, thus could not be forgiven, as a Mother Goddess probably would. To a mother, a son/daughter can make mistakes and be easily forgiven because a mother sees the child in the older individual and as such, is moved to forgive and accept genuine repentance. The lover requires proof of change and a much maturer attitude from the partner/worshiper. It must be understood that the same fierce determination Ninlil showed towards Enlil in the myth of the birth of the Moon God Nanna, when She allowed Enlil to be condemned to the Underworld because he had raped her. However, as a predecessor to Inanna/Ishtar, Ninlil defined HerSelf by being the Mother of Enlil´s firstborn, whereas Inanna/Ishtar defines HerSelf by Being the Fierce Gutsy Beloved, the righteous Warrior and Bridge to the Gods. In other words, Inanna/Ishtar is the Mesopotamian archetype for the non-maternal dynamic feminine. The Great Mother archetype nurture us from the womb to infancy, whereas the Dynamic Non-Maternal goddesses appear as we stand at the threshold to take over our lives in our own hands. A mature and fully integrated person does not need a mother to tell him/her what to do. What a mature person needs is the inspiration of a guide and muse to trespass inner and outer boundaries in all worlds. And this is exactly what the goddess Inanna/Ishtar is and does as the Dynamic Non-Maternal Goddess of Love and War.
We need not to forget that Inanna/Ishtar, nevertheless, was HerSelf a mother. We know from Inanna´s/Ishtar´s mythology that She had two sons, Shara and Lulal. Shara mourned for Her when She descended to the Underworld, and is briefly mentioned in the myth of Ninurta and the Anzu Bird as one of the heroes who felt he could not defeat the mighty bird. We can also deduce that Shara suffered more than Dumuzi during Inanna´s/Ishtar´s descent to the Underworld, because he cried and dressed himself in rags, whereas Dumuzi/Tammuz continued wearing the robes of kingship. All we know about Inanna´s/Ishtar´s sons is that they are powerful rulers of two cities in Mesopotamia. A successful mother is also judged by the success of her offspring, and it seems that Inanna/Ishtar could bring up successful rulers. Inanna/Ishtar therefore does not stand in contradiction/opposition to the Mother archetype, but as the natural development of the Great Mother figure.
Even during the Descent to the Underworld, we see no real antagonism from Inanna/Ishtar towards Ereshkigal. We can say that Inanna/Ishtar did not show on arrival at the Land of No Return the due respect and social graces owed to the older Sister Goddess. But this is all we can say. Inanna/Ishtar is comfortable with Her gender and Sex in all Her myths.
This shows that Inanna´s/Ishtar´s powers are therefore as immanent as transcendent, thus Her being the Goddess of Love and Destruction/War, war/destruction here being understood as the absolute lack of fertility and fruition in all levels and spheres. Inanna´s astral character is so important that in some ancient texts She is referred to as the consort of Anu, the Skyfather and Chief God of the Mesopotamian pantheon through the millennia, and HerSelf together with Anu shared the main precinct of the holiest temple of Uruk, the Eanna.
We turn now to the literature, to scholar Gebhard J. Selz (2000), who wrote about Inanna quoting B. Gronemberg (1984:45) "Inanna/Ishtar perhaps remained so important because her most salient aspect was not that of a mother goddess"... and Selz continues:
' Indeed, a goddess of such overwhelming sexual prowess, who excels in battle and strife, and who probably controlled animal fertility, was a more enthralling concept that the magna mater of old" ... "beyond that, I suspect that it was her bi-polarity, her ambivalence, the fact that she encompassed contradictions and reconciled opposites, that appealed to so many people"...
Summing up, Inanna/Ishtar as the Dynamic Non-Maternal Feminine stands first as Her Own liberated and liberating Self and second not in opposition to the Great Mother archetype. Indeed, Inanna/Ishtar is a natural development for the Great Mother archetypal Self, conceived at the divine level by the Mesopotamians, but not fully actualized in society. She stands as the liberated version of the feminine power to generate life not from the womb, but from the domain of the spirit, ideas and deeds. Biological life from the womb through infancy is the domain of the Great Mother Goddesses. Inanna/Ishtar represents the blossoming of the inner life in connection, as we learn about love, physical and spiritual, to ensoul the outer life. Her High vision is the Spirit of Adventure and Drive to pursue our ideas and deals. Her counterpoint/unbalanced opposite is the absolute lack of Love and fruition symbolized by the destruction of war. She brings with Her Joy, Drive and boundless Energy, or the Life of the Spirit that comes to us, as we leave infancy of the spirit, mind body and soul, the moment we stand on our feet to decide and take control of our destinies now and beyond.
The human garment of the Dynamic Non-Maternal Feminine that stands out from the records is the figure of Enheduanna, the first known author in world literature, High Priestess of Nanna/Sin at Ur, daughter of Sargon, the Akkadian, the military genius and king who unified South and Central Mesopotamia for the first time as na empire ca. 2,300 BCE. Her Temple Hymns and poetry dedicated to Inanna are masterworks in style and creative effort. Not surprisingly, she wrote all her great poems to Inanna. Human priestess and Goddess were One with each other, and Enheduanna embodied the archetype of a high-born educated woman with spiritual and secular authority.
But Enheduanna was not alone. Sumerologist W.W. Hallo says that "she stands in a long tradition of princely women of Sumer who enriched Sumerian literature with their creative talents". Religious authority is still denied to women in many of the great religions of our 21st century. In Sumer, this was not so, and after Enheduanna, for at least 500 years, the post of High Priestess of Ur was occupied by a royal princess. Thus, Enheduanna was not the shining exception, but the one who started a tradition that granted authority and power to women. An ideal yet to be achieved in our modern times.
4. THE LIBERATED AND LIBERATING GODDESS
As the quintessential Non-Domestic and Non-Maternal goddess, Inanna enjoys the existence of a woman who is free to follow Her own designs. Professor Frymer-Kensky (1992) states that as such Inanna lives the same existence as young men, but I disagree with her choice of terminology here. As a Non-Domestic and Non-Maternal goddess, Inanna/Ishtar shows the natural evolution of women's role in society, because if normal women in Mesopotamia could not enjoy much freedom to choose, to act, to go wherever they wanted to and who to consort with, in the Divine World Inanna/Ishtar had the freedom not given or as yet denied to women by patriarchal Mesopotamia.
Inanna/Ishtar therefore represents the most complete example of a truly liberated goddess, who by simply being HerSelf allowed the possibility for women to have dynamic and non-maternal roles in society, even if society not quite agreed and was uneasy and ambiguous about such a role. No other goddess is called "hero" and "mainly", no other goddess has so much allure, assertiveveness, strength and power and true knowledge and knowing of HerSelf. More complete than the Greeks Athena and Arthemis, more passionate and interesting as a lover than Aphrodite and Venus, a master of confrontation better than Egyptian Sekhmet or the Celt Morrighan in the arts of war, more practical than Norse Freya. All the above mentioned goddesses are archetypes for the Dynamic Non-Maternal, and share with Inanna/Ishtar the traits of independence, valor and the knowledge of their own power to heal and destroy what must be no more.
In accordance with the stages of the Individuation process discussed above, we can identify the following steps towards individuation in the cycle of Inanna:
Summing up, taking Inanna´s/Ishtar´s mythology as a whole, Her actions frequently lead to success and integration, Her myths show invariably success stories, where only the ones who ill-treat the Goddess have to face due punishment. Thus, the predator-gardener who rapes the young goddess Inanna is condemned to death, and so is the human girl who sleeps with Dumuzi (from a poem on Jealousy translated by Professor Thorkild Jacobsen in The Harps that Once...). Inanna/Ishtar also condemns Dumuzi/Tammuz to the Underworld only because he had not missed Her during the three days that Inanna was in agony in the Land of the Dead.
Thus, for millennia, the Divine Non-Maternal Feminine has been neglected or unrecognized as for what it is: dynamic, passionate, the imperative to reach out for one's own uniqueness, self-respect and integration that is uncompromising in the pursuit of higher goals. This is the appeal of the Great Non-Maternal Dynamic goddesses like Athena, Arthemis, Sekhmet, Bast, Freya, the Morrighan, Morgan Le Fay, etc. But Inanna/Ishtar´s cycle give us a wholer picture from early infancy to full maturity for us to retrieve the joy and guts of the Dynamic Non-Maternal Feminine as a model of self-defined integrity that is, most of all, independent and very self-sufficient.
6. ACCEPTANCE AND AWE
Obviously, Mesopotamian society was not completely at ease with the idea of non-domestic and non-maternal women, thus the presence of Inanna´s/Ishtar elicited as much adoration as awe and fear. From the cuneiform and archaeological findings, we know that Mesopotamian society was patriarchal and that normal women most probably never enjoyed the full extent of prerogatives Inanna/Ishtar possessed, Her freedom to move about, to choose consorts, to empower kings, Her non-domesticity. But at least we can say that the ancient Mesopotamian psyche allowed for the existence in the divine domain for a goddess who enjoyed freedom to act and decide, to choose and trespass boundaries far outside the domestic sphere. It is interesting to notice that such all-encompassing freedom for women has only been achieved very recently, as feminism, comparative mythology and religion started to retrieve the wisdom of our ancient past to empower the present generations of men and women here and now.
Not surprisingly, Inanna´s freedom from domestic tasks, sovereignty, allure, ferocious energy and drive make of Her a powerful archetype of feminine wholeness and integrity for the present generations. Because if goddesses mirror women's experience in society, bright female professionals of the 21st century have in Inanna/Ishtar a venerable model of a goddess/woman who was not domestic or house-bound, but first and foremost a doer and trespasser of boundaries in all worlds, levels and spheres. Thus, Inanna´s/Ishtar´s freedom only frightens the ones who do not have within the generosity to allow for the full manifestation of the Feminine as non-maternal and non-domestic. Thus, Inanna/Ishtar can well be described as the Liberated and Liberating goddess of Ancient Mesopotamia. This is why Inanna/Ishtar poses perhaps the greatest threat to patriarchy. Because by being the Liberated Goddess of Sumer She liberates us still today.
7. INANNA AND OUR QUEST FOR INNER AND OUTER WHOLENESS
Inanna´s integrity thus challenges us to go beyond our limits to search for our own inner wholeness. Most importantly, lack of understanding of what integrity is makes it very difficult the search for the Divine. Without integrity, the search for the sacred and the Divine cannot be unified. Why so? Because the Search for the Divine is ultimately about Transcendence, or Trespassing Boundaries so that the Reconciliation of all Dichotomies into a harmonious whole can take place. This was very lilely the Ancient Mesopotamian mystical view of the Dynamic Non-Maternal Feminine, where Love/Connection and Energy/Libido could apprehend the full spectrum of being and becoming, thus including as well War and Aggression.
To understand better Inanna/Ishtar as an image of integrity in our lives we must first find out who and what we are (the Hulupu Tree as Inner Sovereignty and Inanna and Enki and the Sacred Measures as Outer Sovereignty). Secondly, we must strive to integrate the Shadow in us, the occult, unlived side we all have and that must be integrated into our True Selves. There is enormous power and healing in knowing one's limitations... exactly not to feel limited by what one finds. Inanna accepted her belligerent Other in Saltu, or the Agushaya Hymn, and Enki then transformed the occasion into a collective festival. This is perhaps one of the most complete fights with the Dark Self in world mythology, another Mesopotamian first, where the Divine Non-Maternal Feminine emerges with the Triumphant gift of Grace without starting a war or blood bath.
Thirdly, Inanna/Ishtar reached out for the Beloved in Dumuzi/Tammuz and became the Quintessential Companion and Consort to most Mesopotamian kings. The Quest for the Beloved though is only successful when we know who we are and love ourselves enough to give love and ask for it from the standpoint of equality. The Beloved is never all-forgiving, but can be surely convinced if the Lover presents well his case; moreover, life with Her is not easy but... is there life without the touch of the Beloved?
Fourthly, Inanna/Ishtar shows transcendent humanity in Her acts especially when She descended to the Underworld, dies and is reborn there. The alchemical name for holding shame with integrity is mortificatio, the rot of human chemicals in a closed container--truly a mortifying experience. In this myth, Inanna shows us that spiritual survival has to do with enduring and transcending obstacles, which is facilitated by the flame of hope, the bedrock of faith, a strong sense of self, and integrity to face life as a self-transcending experience in the highs and lows likewise. Through Real Experience and life lived to the fullest one can also achieve Wisdom by one´s deeds in all worlds, or the vision of Inanna/Ishtar as Wisdom Through Experience. Caitlín Matthews (1991) puts this very special truth in a wondrous way by stating that Wisdom is the Craft of life, and all we have to do to achieve it is to "open our hearts, walk within and find Wisdom". No wonder Inanna/Ishtar thus later on became the Beloved of the Prophets in the Bible, once She had been the Bridge to the Gods in Mesopotamia. Ethereal as Wisdom became in the Old Testament Bible, Her foundation was the gutsy Beloved and Queen of Heaven and Earth of Mesopotamia.
Fortunately, Inanna/Ishtar is resurfacing with strength and splendor because we need Her playfulness, inspiration, drive, power and most of all, Her integrity to guide modern women and men into the millennium. We need, most of all, Her Spirit to inspire our bodies, minds, hearts and souls so that armed with the arrows of our inner and outer desires can soar to the heavens and return to the earth with the power of dreams come true out of our deeds in all worlds.
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