Babylon

The Descent of Inanna – Part 1

FROM THE GREAT ABOVE TO THE GREAT BELOW

  • From the Great Above she opened her ear to the Great Below.
  • From the Great Above the goddess opened her ear to the Great Below.
  • From the Great Above Inanna opened her ear to the Great Below.
  • My Lady abandoned heaven and earth to descend to the underworld.
  • Inanna abandoned heaven and earth to descend to the underworld.
  • She abandoned her office of holy priestess to descend to the underworld.
  • In Uruk she abandoned her temple to descend to the underworld.
  • In Badtibira she abandoned her temple to descend to the underworld.
  • In Zabalam she abandoned her temple to descend to the underworld.
  • In Adab she abandoned her temple to descend to the underworld.
  • In Nippur she abandoned her temple to descend to the underworld.
  • In Kish she abandoned her temple to descend to the underworld.
  • In Akkad she abandoned her temple to descend to the underworld.
  • She gathered together the seven me.
  • She took them into her hands.
  • With the me in her possession, she prepared herself:
  • She placed the shugurra, the crown of the steppe, on her head.
  • She arranged the dark locks of hair across her forehead.
  • She tied the small lapis beads around her neck,
  • Let the double strand of beads fall to her breast,
  • And wrapped the royal robe around her body.
  • She daubed her eyes with ointment called “Let him come, Let him come,”
  • Bound the breastplate called “Come, man, come!” around her chest,
  • Slipped the gold ring over her wrist,
  • And took the lapis measuring rod and line in her hand.
  • Inanna set out for the underworld.
  • Ninshubur, her faithful servant, went with her.
  • Inanna spoke to her, saying:
  • “Ninshubur, my constant support,
  • My sukkal who gives me wise advise,
  • My warrior who fights by my side,
  • I am descending to the kur, to the underworld.
  • If I do not return,
  • Set up a lament for me by the ruins.
  • Beat the drum for me in the assembly places.
  • Circle the houses of the gods.
  • Tear at your eyes, at your mouth, at your thighs.
  • Dress yourself in a single garment like a beggar.
  • Go to Nippur, to the temple of Enlil.
  • When you enter his holy shrine, cry out:
  • ‘O Father Enlil, do not let your daughter
  • Be put to death in the underworld.
  • Do not let your bright silver
  • Be covered with the dust of the underworld.
  • Do not let your precious lapis
  • Be broken into stone for the stoneworker.
  • Do not let your fragrant boxwood
  • Be cut into wood for the woodworker.
  • Do not let the holy priestess of heaven
  • Be put to death in the underworld.’
  • If Enlil will not help you,
  • Go to Ur, to the temple of Nanna.
  • Weep before Father Nanna.
  • If Nanna will not help you,
  • Go to Eridu, to the temple of Enki.
  • Weep before Father Enki.
  • Father Enki, the God of Wisdom, knows the food of life,
  • He knows the water of life;
  • He knows the secrets.
  • Surely he will not let me die.”
  • Inanna continued on her way to the underworld.
  • Then she stopped and said:
  • “Go now, Ninshubur-
  • Do not forget the words I have commanded you.”
  • When Inanna arrived at the outer gates of the underworld,
  • She knocked loudly.
  • She cried out in a fierce voice:
  • “Open the door, gatekeeper!
  • Open the door, Neti!
  • I alone would enter!”
  • Neti, the chief gatekeeper of the kur, asked:
  • “Who are you?”
  • She answered:
  • “I am Inanna, Queen of Heaven,
  • On my way to the East.”
  • Neti said:
  • “If you are truly Inanna, Queen of Heaven,
  • On your way to the East,
  • Why has your heart led you on the road
  • From which no traveler returns?”
  • Inanna answered:
  • “Because… of my older sister, Ereshkigal,
  • Her husband, Gugalanna, the Bull of Heaven, has died.
  • I have come to witness the funeral rites.
  • Let the beer of his funeral rites be poured into the cup.
  • Let it be done.”
  • Neti spoke:
  • “Stay here, Inanna, I will speak to my queen.
  • I will give her your message.”
  • Neti, the chief gatekeeper of the kur,
  • Entered the palace of Ereshkigal, the Queen of the Underworld, and said:
  • “My queen, a maid
  • As tall as heaven,
  • As wide as the earth,
  • As strong as the foundations of the city wall,
  • Waits outside the palace gates.
  • She has gathered together the seven me.
  • She has taken them into her hands.
  • With the me in her possession, she has prepared herself:
  • On her head she wears the shugurra, the crown of the steppe.
  • Across her forehead her dark locks of hair are carefully arranged.
  • Around her neck she wears the small lapis beads.
  • At her breast she wears the double strand of beads.
  • Her body is wrapped with the royal robe.
  • Her eyes are daubed with the ointment called, ‘Let him come, let him come!’
  • Around her chest she wears the breastplate called ‘Come, man, come!’
  • On her wrist she wears the gold ring.
  • In her hand she carries the lapis measuring rod and line.”
  • When Ereshkigal heard this,
  • She slapped her thigh and bit her lip.
  • She took the matter into her heart and dwelt on it.
  • Then she spoke:
  • “Come, Neti, my chief gatekeeper of the kur,
  • Heed my words:
  • Bolt the seven gates of the underworld.
  • Then, one by one, open each gate a crack.
  • Let Inanna enter.
  • As she enters, remove her royal garments.
  • Let the holy priestess of heaven enter bowed low.”
  • Neti heeded the words of his queen.
  • He bolted the seven gates of the underworld.
  • Then he opened the outer gate.
  • He said to the maid:
  • “Come, Inanna, enter.”
  • When she entered the first gate,
  • From her head, the shugurra, the crown of the steppe, was removed.
  • Inanna asked:
  • “What is this?”
  • She was told:
  • “Quiet, Inanna, the ways of the underworld are perfect.
  • They may not be questioned.”
  • When she entered the second gate,
  • From her neck the small lapis beads were removed.
  • Inanna asked:
  • “What is this?”
  • She was told:
  • “Quiet, Inanna, the ways of the underworld are perfect.
  • They may not be questioned.”
  • When she entered the third gate,
  • From her breast the double strand of beads was removed.
  • Inanna asked:
  • “What is this?”
  • She was told:
  • “Quiet, Inanna, the ways of the underworld are perfect.
  • They may not be questioned.”
  • When she entered the fourth gate,
  • From her chest the breastplate called “Come, man, come!” was removed.
  • Inanna asked:
  • “What is this?”
  • She was told:
  • “Quiet, Inanna, the ways of the underworld are perfect.
  • They may not be questioned.”
  • When she entered the fifth gate,
  • From her wrist the gold ring was removed.
  • Inanna asked:
  • “What is this?”
  • She was told:
  • “Quiet, Inanna, the ways of the underworld are perfect.
  • They may not be questioned.”
  • When she entered the sixth gate,
  • From her hand the lapis measuring rod and line was removed.
  • Inanna asked:
  • “What is this?”
  • She was told:
  • “Quiet, Inanna, the ways of the underworld are perfect.
  • They may not be questioned.”
  • When she entered the seventh gate,
  • From her body the royal robe was removed.
  • Inanna asked:
  • “What is this?”
  • She was told:
  • “Quiet, Inanna, the ways of the underworld are perfect.
  • They may not be questioned.”
  • Naked and bowed low, Inanna entered the throne room.
  • Ereshkigal rose from her throne.
  • Inanna started toward the throne.
  • The Annuna, the judges of the underworld, surrounded her.
  • They passed judgement against her.
  • Then Ereshkigal fastened on Inanna the eye of death.
  • She spoke against her the word of wrath.
  • She uttered against her the cry of guilt.
  • She struck her.
  • Inanna was turned into a corpse,
  • A piece of rotting meat,
  • And was hung from a hook on the wall.
  • When, after three days and three nights, Inanna had not returned,
  • Ninshubur set up a lament for her by the ruins.
  • She beat the drum for her in the assembly places.
  • She circled the houses of the gods.
  • She tore at her eyes; she tore at her mouth; she tore at her thighs.
  • She dressed herself in a single garment like a beggar.
  • Alone, she set out for Nippur and the temple of Enlil.
  • When she entered the holy shrine,
  • She cried out:
  • “O Father Enlil, do not let your daughter
  • Be put to death in the underworld.
  • Do not let your bright silver
  • Be covered with the dust of the underworld.
  • Do not let your precious lapis
  • Be broken into stone for the stoneworker.
  • Do not let your fragrant boxwood
  • Be cut into wood for the woodworker.
  • Do not let the holy priestess of heaven
  • Be put to death in the underworld.”
  • Father Enlil answered angrily:
  • “My daughter craved the Great Above.
  • Inanna craved the Great Below.
  • She who receives the me of the underworld does not return.
  • She who goes to the Dark City stays there.”
  • Father Enlil would not help.
  • Ninshubur went to Ur and the temple of Nanna.
  • When she entered the holy shrine,
  • She cried out:
  • “O Father Nanna, do not let your daughter
  • Be put to death in the underworld.
  • Do not let your bright silver
  • Be covered with the dust of the underworld.
  • Do not let your precious lapis
  • Be broken into stone for the stoneworker.
  • Do not let your fragrant boxwood
  • Be cut into wood for the woodworker.
  • Do not let the holy priestess of heaven.
  • Be put to death in the underworld.”
  • Father Nanna answered angrily:
  • “My daughter craved the Great Above.
  • Inanna craved the Great Below.
  • She who receives the me of the underworld does not return.
  • She who goes to the Dark City stays there.
  • Father Nanna would not help.
  • Ninshubur went to Eridu and the temple of Enki.
  • When she entered the holy shrine,
  • She cried out:
  • “O Father Enki, do not let your daughter
  • Be put to death in the underworld.
  • Do not let your bright silver
  • Be covered with the dust of the underworld.
  • Do not let your precious lapis
  • Be broken into stone for the stoneworker.
  • Do not let your fragrant boxwood
  • Be cut into wood for the woodworker.
  • Do not let the holy priestess of heaven
  • Be put to death in the underworld.”
  • Father Enki said:
  • “What has happened?
  • What has my daughter done?
  • Inanna! Queen of All the Lands! Holy Priestess of Heaven!
  • What has happened?
  • I am troubled. I am grieved.”
  • From under his fingernail Father Enki brought forth dirt.
  • He fashioned the dirt into a kurgarra, a creature neither male nor female.
  • From under the fingernail of his other hand he brought forth dirt.
  • He fashioned the dirt into a galatur, a creature neither male nor female.
  • He gave the food of life to the kurgarra.
  • He gave the water of life to the galatur.
  • Enki spoke to the kurgarra and galatur, saying:
  • “Go to the underworld,
  • Enter the door like flies.
  • Ereshkigal, the Queen of the Underworld, is moaning
  • With the cries of a woman about to give birth.
  • No linen is spread over her body.
  • Her breasts are uncovered.
  • Her hair swirls about her head like leeks.
  • When she cries, ‘Oh! Oh! My inside!’
  • Cry also, ‘Oh! Oh! Your inside!’
  • When she cries, ‘Oh! Oh! My outside!’
  • Cry also, ‘Oh! Oh! Your outside!’
  • The queen will be pleased.
  • She will offer you a gift.
  • Ask her only for the corpse that hangs from the hook on the wall.
  • One of you will sprinkle the food of life on it.
  • The other will sprinkle the water of life.
  • Inanna will arise.”
  • The kurgarra and the galatur heeded Enki’s words.
  • They set out for the underworld.
  • Like flies, they slipped through the cracks of the gates.
  • They entered the throne room of the Queen of the Underworld.
  • No linen was spread over her body.
  • Her breasts were uncovered.
  • Her hair swirled around her head like leeks.
  • Ereshkigal was moaning:
  • “Oh! Oh! My inside!”
  • They moaned:
  • “Oh! Oh! Your inside!”
  • She moaned:
  • “”Ohhhh! Oh! My outside!”
  • They moaned:
  • “Ohhhh! Oh! Your outside!”
  • She groaned:
  • “Oh! Oh! My belly!”
  • They groaned:
  • “Oh! Oh! Your belly!”
  • She groaned:
  • “Oh! Ohhhh! My back!!”
  • They groaned:
  • “Oh! Ohhhh! Your back!!”
  • She sighed:
  • ” Ah! Ah! My heart!”
  • They sighed:
  • “Ah! Ah! Your heart!”
  • She sighed:
  • “Ah! Ahhhh! My liver!”
  • They sighed:
  • “Ah! Ahhhh! Your liver!”
  • Ereshkigal stopped.
  • She looked at them.
  • She asked:
  • “Who are you,
  • Moaning – groaning – sighing with me?
  • If you are gods, I will bless you.
  • If you are mortals, I will give you a gift.
  • I will give you the water-gift, the river in its fullness.”
  • The kurgarra and galatur answered:
  • “We do not wish it.”
  • Ereshkigal said:
  • “I will give you the grain-gift, the fields in harvest.”
  • The kurgarra and galatur said:
  • “We do not wish it.”
  • Ereshkigal said:
  • “Speak then! What do you wish?”
  • They answered:
  • “We wish only the corpse that hangs from the hook on the wall.”
  • Ereshkigal said:
  • “The corpse belongs to Inanna.”
  • They said:
  • “Whether it belongs to our queen,
  • Whether it belongs to our king,
  • That is what we wish.”
  • The corpse was given to them.
  • The kurgarra sprinkled the food of life on the corpse.
  • The galatur sprinkled the water of life on the corpse.
  • Inanna arose….
  • Inanna was about to ascend from the underworld
  • When the Annuna, the judges of the underworld, seized her.
  • They said:
  • “No one ascends from the underworld unmarked.
  • If Inanna wishes to return from the underworld,
  • She must provide someone in her place.”
  • As Inanna ascended from the underworld,
  • The galla, the demons of the underworld, clung to her side.
  • The galla were demons who know no food, who know no drink,
  • Who eat no offerings, who drink no libations,
  • Who accept no gifts.
  • They enjoy no lovemaking.
  • They have no sweet children to kiss.
  • They tear the wife from the husband’s arms,
  • They tear the child from the father’s knees,
  • They steal the bride from her marriage home.
  • The demons clung to Inanna.
  • The small galla who accompanied Inanna
  • Were like reeds the size of low picket fences.
  • The large galla who accompanied Inanna
  • Were like reeds the size of high picket fences.
  • The one who walked in front of Inanna was not a minister,
  • Yet he carried a sceptre.
  • The one who walked behind her was not a warrior,
  • Yet he carried a mace.
  • Ninshubur, dressed in a soiled sackcloth,
  • Waited outside the palace gates.
  • When she saw Inanna
  • Surrounded by the galla,
  • She threw herself in the dust at Inanna’s feet.
  • The galla said:
  • “Walk on, Inanna,
  • We will take Ninshubur in your place.”
  • Inanna cried:
  • “No! Ninshubur is my constant support.
  • She is my sukkal who gives me wise advice.
  • She is my warrior who fights by my side.
  • She did not forget my words.
  • She set up a lament for me by the ruins.
  • She beat the drum for me at the assembly places.
  • She circled the houses of the gods.
  • She tore at her eyes, at her mouth, at her thighs.
  • She dressed herself in a single garment like a beggar.
  • Alone, she set out for Nippur and the temple of Enlil.
  • She went to Ur and the temple of Nanna.
  • She went to Eridu and the temple of Enki.
  • Because of her, my life was saved.
  • I will never give Ninshubur to you.”
  • The galla said:
  • “Walk on, Inanna,
  • We will accompany you to Umma.”
  • In Umma, at the holy shrine,
  • Shara, the son of Inanna, was dressed in a soiled sackcloth.
  • When he saw Inanna
  • Surrounded by the galla,
  • He threw himself in the dust at her feet.
  • The galla said:
  • “Walk on to your city, Inanna,
  • We will take Shara in your place.”
  • Inanna cried:
  • “No! Not Shara!
  • He is my son who sings hymns to me.
  • He is my son who cuts my nails and smooths my hair.
  • I will never give Shara to you.”
  • The galla said:
  • “Walk on, Inanna,
  • We will accompany you to Badtibira.”
  • In Badtibira, at the holy shrine,
  • Lulal, the son of Inanna, was dressed in a soiled sackcloth.
  • When he saw Inanna
  • Surrounded by the galla,
  • He threw himself in the dust at her feet.
  • The galla said:
  • “Walk on to your city, Inanna,
  • We will take Lulal in your place.”
  • Inanna cried:
  • “Not Lulal! He is my son.
  • He is a leader among men.
  • He is my right arm. He is my left arm.
  • I will never give Lulal to you.”
  • The galla said:
  • “Walk on to your city, Inanna.
  • We will go with you to the big apple tree in Uruk.”
  • In Uruk, by the big apple tree,
  • Dumuzi, the husband of Inanna, was dressed in his shining me-garments.
  • He sat on his magnificent throne; (he did not move).
  • The galla seized him by his thighs.
  • They poured milk out of his seven churns.
  • They broke the reed pipe which the shepherd was playing.
  • Inanna fastened on Dumuzi the eye of death.
  • She spoke against him the word of wrath.
  • She uttered against him the cry of guilt:
  • “Take him! Take Dumuzi away!”
  • The galla, who know no food, who know no drink,
  • Who eat no offerings, who drink no libations,
  • Who accept no gifts, seized Dumuzi.
  • They made him stand up; they made him sit down.
  • They beat the husband of Inanna.
  • They gashed him with axes.
  • Dumuzi let out a wail.
  • He raised his hands to heaven to Utu, the God of Justice, and beseeched him:
  • “O Utu, you are my brother-in-law,
  • I am the husband of your sister.
  • I brought cream to your mother’s house,
  • I brought milk to Ningal’s house.
  • I am the one who carried food to the holy shrine.
  • I am the one who brought wedding gifts to Uruk.
  • I am the one who danced on the holy knees, the knees of Inanna.
  • Utu, you who are a just god, a merciful god,
  • Change my hands into the hands of a snake.
  • Change my feet into the feet of a snake.
  • Let me escape from my demons;
  • Do not let them hold me.”
  • The merciful Utu accepted Dumuzi’s tears.
  • He changed the hands of Dumuzi into snake hands.
  • He changed the feet of Dumuzi into snake feet.
  • Dumuzi escaped from his demons.
  • They could not hold him…..

HERE ENDS PART 1 OF THE DESCENT OF INANNA.

This particular version of the Descent of Inanna comes from the book Inanna , Queen of Heaven and Earth – Her Stories and Hymns from Sumer written by Diane Wolkstein and Samuel Noah Kramer.

Diane Wolkstein is a gifted storyteller and professional folklorist who made the myths about Inanna really come back to life in such a way that the stories of this great Goddess are very enjoyable to read.

Everyone who worships this Venusian Deity, or feels a strong connection with this beautiful Goddess will certainly enjoy this book, and should, therefore, consider to add this great work to his or her library.

Nightcaller.

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