Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Goddess Inanna

The story of Inanna's descent into the underworld, is an ancient Sumerian legend that seems to predict the rise of the patriarchal age and its later downfall.

In this story, she is the Queen of Heaven, who wishes to visit her sister Ereshkigal the Goddess of the underworld or netherworld. It is a long story and there are many different versions of it that seem to have changed over time, probably to fit in with the changing social attitudes. So in this retelling I will only use what is consistent in all these stories.

Inanna arrives at the gates to the Underworld displaying all the symbols of Her rank and position: A Golden crown, lapis necklace, a double strand of deep blue beads, a jewelled belt around her waist, gold wrists/arm bands, she was holding a lapis measuring rod and wearing a royal robe. To begin the descent to the underworld Goddess one must pass through seven gates, surrendering one article at each gate. In some versions Inanna questions the removal of each article and is told, "Be satisfied Inanna! The ME of the netherworld is being fulfilled. Inanna you must not open your mouth against the sacred customs of the netherworld".

The ME probably relates to what is called today, the ego. As Inanna is the Queen of Heaven she would of course have a very large ego, so in one sense the removing of each article is the surrendering of her ego.

At the first gate, Inanna is stripped of her crown. The patriarchal Hittites invaded Sumer and ruled. So the Queens and High-Priestesses who ruled before were stripped of their positions. Inanna was renamed Inaras and became the virgin bride of the sacred king. So under the rule of the Hittites she was no longer the supreme ruler and was the consort of a King. So the taking away of Inanna's crown symbolised overthrowing of the matriarchal rulers.

At the second gate, the lapis necklace is taken from Inanna. The necklace goes around the neck and within the neck is the voice box. This symbolises the ability of Inanna to express herself, although the Hittite patriarchal rulers, had political power the people they ruled were still matriarchal in their attitude and ways of living. In more recent times when a despotic dictator takes power in a country the first thing he does is to curb free-speech. So likewise the women who previously held power in the matriarchal societies, were probably silenced under the threat of death from criticising the new patriarchal rulers.

At the third gate, Inanna is stripped of her double strands of blue beads that hung between her breasts. The breast for a woman represents her ability to nourish others, with her milk, so it symbolises a women's ability to love others. When the patriarchal rulers first took control, the women at first must have felt very angry about losing their status and power. Then slowly they must of had "a change of heart", and they began to co-operate and even love these patriarchal men from the North.

As Inanna passed the fourth gate, she is stripped of her jewelled belt around her waist. As it is a jewelled belt it would represent wealth. In matriarchal societies all possessions came down the female line, so in this way all the wealth of society would be in the hand of women, giving them great power. The patriarchs wanted all inheritance to come down the male line but as in matriarchal societies a woman was free to have sex with any man she chooses, there was no way for a man to know who his children were. To overcome this the male rulers and priests introduced the concept of marriage where a woman had to be faithful to one man. So a husband would know that the children his wife produces were his, and allowing inheritance to come down the male line, and putting the wealth of the society into the hands of men.

At the fifth gate Inanna's gold wrist/arm band is removed. The hands and arms symbolise our ability to act and make things happen. So for a long time women were still farmers, builders, traders and even warriors, and were still capable of creating wealth and power for themselves. Slowly these jobs were taken away from women and put into the hands of men. Women also did learn how to hit back at patriarchy by becoming Amazons, but in the end even these women were defeated and the only role left for women in society was that of wife or prostitute.

At the sixth gate, the lapis measuring rod is removed from Inanna's hand. A person using a measuring rod has to be educated to know how to use it. In patriarchal times, women were discouraged from being educated because education can give a person power and status in a society. All knowledge and wisdom was removed from women, so they would have to depend on men for this.

At the seventh and last gate, Inanna is stripped of her royal robe and is left completely naked. Even though power and status was taken away from women, traditional customs and beliefs probably still gave women respect and status in society. Even as late as the Middles-ages women still had respect in society as healers and seers. To counter this, patriarchal religions began to put out propaganda that women had no souls, that they were evil and the cause of all men's suffering. When this didn't work they went further and started to condemn women healers and seers as Witches who were in league with the Devil. They then started the infamous Witchhunt where millions of women were burnt alive. In this way they undermined the respect men had for women, and the respect women had for themselves as they began to believe what the patriarchal priests told them. So now women had nothing left, all respect, power, status and wealth had been taken away she was left naked and defenceless.

After descending the seven gates, Inanna is judged and found to be ignorant, a mortal and not a supreme being, and with a mind full of her own self.

In the patriarchal age women were considered to be stupid, and, not having access to any form of education, were also ignorant. All Goddesses and priestesses were replaced by a supreme male God and priests. Also a woman was expected to devote her whole life to looking after her children and husband, and were condemned for being selfish if they in any way thought about their own needs. Even today this is still true as women fear being thought selfish.

Inanna is then condemned to die hung from a meat hook. While on the surface, without the presence of Inanna the Earth is turned into a wasteland.

Now there are many different versions of the Inanna story and many different interpretations of it, like the Damazi/Inanna story or the Tammuz/Ishter story. In later versions, it is a God who rules the Underworld, and still later it is the Goddess who comes to collect her daughter who was abducted by the Underworld God, as in the story of Demeter and Persephone. In these later versions the story is seen as the reason why in Northern climates everything dies in winter and comes back to life in summer. Because in this story Persephone is married to Hades the God of the Underworld and has to return to him once every year during the winter time.

In the original Inanna story, she simply dies and is reborn. The period of the wasteland is repeated in many ancient myths including the stories of King Arthur, it is more than likely the wasteland is about the patriarchal society.

The matriarchal religions respected all life and nature and were referred to as "nature cults" by the later patriarchal scholars because they worshipped trees and animals. When the patriarchal religions took control the patriarchs no longer respected life and nature. Trees were cut down, causing soil erosion in places like Ancient Greece and throughout the Middle east where fertile land was turned into desert. Archaeologists have found that in Biblical times Israel was a fertile country with extensive forests, but now many of the trees that grew there are extinct in that part of the world. Patriarchy never quite understood that by destroying nature man was causing his own downfall. The hard lessons learnt about soil erosion in Europe was lost when Europeans went to America and Australia, and millions of acres of land were depleted before this lesson was learnt again. On Easter Island the natives cut down all the trees on the island. Destroying for themselves an important food source as with coconut trees, and their ability to build wooden houses and boats for fishing. Even today men still overfish and pollute the oceans and use intensive farming methods that deplete the soil and destroy wildlife.

With the help of Enki, a water and wisdom God and a son of the Goddess, Inanna gains her release from the Great below and is allowed to ascend through the seven gates. In other versions it is Inanna's lover Tammuz who helps her, and he voluntarily, takes her place in the netherworld.

To have a God that brings about Inanna's release is very interesting. Patriarchy has been undermined in the last four hundred years by men themselves. Patriarchal religions not only suppressed women but also men. The peasants, like women were kept ignorant and denied education, to make it easier for the rulers to control them. At the same time patriarchal religions, suppressed science, and prevented the increase of knowledge as much as possible.

When the Protestant sects broke away from the main Roman Catholic religion in Europe, they couldn't see any good reason why science should continue to be suppressed. Though they were to find out hundreds of years later when science took over from religion as the major font of wisdom in patriarchal society. As scientific thought took control the men of science couldn't see why the common people should be denied education, and ideas that all men should be equal began to flower. As the common people became better educated they began to demand more rights, women too began to be better educated and complain about the shackles that patriarchal religion and customs imposed on them. With many men now in power who were no longer influenced by patriarchal religions, the demands by Feminists were seen to be reasonable and over time these demands were granted to them. So like science, Enki the wisdom God released Inanna from her bondage to patriarchal religion. While to have her lover Tammuz take her place symbolises the fact that many men will voluntary submit themselves to women when the matriarchal age comes into being.

At the seventh gate, Inanna is given back her royal robe. Although for a time science continued the patriarchal religion's denigration of women as in the last century claiming that women had smaller brains than men or were too emotional to make sensible decisions. Yet science didn't go as far as patriarchal religions and claim women were evil and had no soul because to scientific men it was clear women were not in any way evil. So women gained more and more respect in society and the royal robe is a symbol of this respect.

At the sixth gate, Inanna is given back her measuring rod. The men of science couldn't see any good reason why women should not be denied education and even in the nineteenth century women began to take on professional jobs like doctors, journalists and scientists. Jobs up until then only men were allowed to do, so the measuring rod was a symbol of women's growing educational qualifications in society.

At the fifth gate, Inanna is given back her golden wrist/arm band. At the beginning of this century higher education was given only to a small majority of women, but other women began to follow their lead. During the first and second world wars, women began to work in factories and on farms doing jobs men normally done and showing they were more than capable of doing them. Although Feminists have complained that after both these wars the returning male troops took over these jobs once again and women went back to being housewives again. But it showed what is possible for women and since then more women have depended upon themselves to earn a living and not on men. To the degree there are men today who stay a home to look after the house and children while the women go to work. So the wrist/arm band symbolises women's ability now to take charge of her own life to earn her own money and not to have to rely on a man.

At the Fourth gate, her jewelled belt is returned. Women are not only now able to earn their own living but some are becoming wealthy. At one time the only way a woman could become rich was to inherit money, to be a widow of a rich man or become a successful actress or courtesan. Now successful business women are becoming millionaires, while other women are taking the top-jobs in many professions. Feminists complain about the "glass-ceiling" that prevent women from getting the top-jobs in society, but slowly the glass-ceiling is collapsing. So the Jewelled belt symbolises the wealth women are gaining in society. Already in USA there are more female millionaires than male millionaires.

At the Third gate, the double strands of deep blue beads are returned to Inanna. In the patriarchal age it wasn't only patriarchal religion that kept women in bondage, it was also the fact that she loved patriarchal men more than she loved herself. Now as we are moving towards a new matriarchal age women are learning more and more how to love themselves. So the beads that hung between her breasts and over her heart, symbolise women changing the way they love. From not only loving others to learning to love themselves, as well. This is seen clearly in the breakdown of marriage in recent times. Women are now demanding more from men and if they do not get what they demand then they would rather break up the relationship.

At the Second gate, Inanna's lapis necklace is returned to her. Although women have in recent years demanded equality with men, a few women now are going further than this and saying that they want dominance over men. This is very unpopular with Feminists, who regard ideas like this as not being "politically correct". But women are changing, the younger generation of women today want far more from society then their mothers did and expected. Soon women in the future will forget about ideas of fairness or "political correctness". So the necklace around her neck will symbolise women speaking out and demanding not just equality but dominance over society and man.

At the first gate Inanna receives back her crown. This is the symbol that women have now taken back control of society. The Earth now begins to flower again, as women once again respect life on earth in all its forms. Already now we see in the Green party, Greenpeace and other environment organisations the concern about what damage patriarchy is doing to our world. As women become more in control this concern will grow until genuine practical steps will be taken to correct these problems. In the Inanna story it was claimed that the Earth was turned into a waste land while Inanna was stayed underground with her sister Ereshkigal. So women's first job when that take back control will be to heal the earth of the damage that was done during the patriarchal age.

Some scholars have made the controversial claim that the story of Inanna's decent into the underworld is the prototype story for the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. This causes a problem as many Christians believe the stories in the Bible to be historical facts. The problem with that belief is that scholars are very aware that all the Bible stories over hundreds of years have been changed, embellished and censored. These stories might have originally come from real events, but were soon changed and merged with other stories and myths, so it is hard to know how much of the original event is left in the story.

All religions from an early time have been contaminated by politics, and it is unfortunate that it is the politically minded priests who have gained most power and have ruled religions. While priests with genuine beliefs in their religion have always played the subordinate role. So it would be the politically motivated priests who would order changes in the texts and doctrine of a religion for political reasons, but it would probably be the more genuine believers who carried out this task. It is known that the patriarchal religions carried out a wholesale destruction of ancient knowledge for political reasons. But the priests given the task of censoring this knowledge from religious text probably didn't agree with the task they were given. The result of this has been in recent years that many people have realised that there are hidden messages within many religious writings. Probably in the ancient past priests and priestesses were very aware of the patriarchal/matriarchal cycle, but they would also be aware that in the patriarchal cycle life was hell. Which wouldn't be a great encouragement for the common people to go through with it, so all knowledge of this cycle had to be censored to make patriarchy possible. But the priests given the task of rewriting scriptures, tried to pass on the truth of the situation in coded form, to inform people in the future what was happening when matriarchy returned.

In many ancient myths there are stories of matriarchal times where the Queen or High-Priestess would marry a young man who would jointly rule with her for one year as King. Then when this year was up he would be sacrificed and the Queen or High-Priestess would marry another young man and the cycle would continue. Whether these stories are about real events and customs, or is a "mystery" story that is about the cycle of matriarchal and patriarchal ages, is a matter of opinion. But again these stories are used again by some scholars to claim or hint that from these stories the crucifixion of Jesus originates.

So if the story of Inanna is about the downfall of women at the beginning of the matriarchal age and her rise at the end of the patriarchal age. Could then the story of Jesus's crucifixion be the story of man's downfall at the end of the patriarchal age?

The story starts off in triumph, with Jesus mounted on a colt or ass riding through the streets of Jerusalem, where crowds welcome him and proclaim him King. So we can take this to mean he is a fully patriarchal man at the height of his power and ego growth.

Yet his triumph doesn't last long, he prophesies that Jerusalem will be completely destroyed, perhaps symbolising the collapse of patriarchy. Then he goes to the Temple and condemns the priests there for turning a house of prayer into a den of thieves. Which would be a good description of patriarchal religion which became extremely wealthy and powerful during the patriarchal age.

Jesus then begins to give more prophesies to quote,- "Countries will fight each other; kingdoms will attack one another. There will be terrible earthquakes, famines, and plagues every-where; there will be strange and terrifying things coming from the sky."

Which sounds like a very good description of the patriarchal age, the mention of "strange and terrifying things coming from the sky" sounds interesting it could be about bomber aircraft that destroyed whole cities in the second world war, and the nuclear attack on Japan.

Then Jesus and his disciples sat down for the Passover meal, during this meal Jesus washed the feet of all his disciples, a job normally done by servants, slaves or women. He also made the point that he was the one who serves the disciples. Why he did and said this is not made very clear, but again it could be a practical prophesy of man's downfall, demonstrating that all men will become slaves. Jesus then goes through a ritual, with the bread and wine saying that, this is his body and blood, which again symbolises a form of sacrifice. Echoing the ancient stories of the King that is sacrificed at the end of each year to the Goddess. In some of these tales the King is not only sacrificed but eaten in a cannibal feast. This was the fate of Dionysus who was torn apart by women and then eaten before he came back to life again. So this would be symbolised by breaking and eating of the bread which Jesus calls "my body". The drinking of wine which symbolises the blood of Jesus Christ is more interesting. In ancient Goddess religions menstrual blood was held to be sacred. While in many later patriarchal religion menstrual blood was held to be taboo and unclean. So the blood coming from Jesus would suggest that Jesus was a woman and there are some authors who have claimed this. Though more likely it means that Jesus was going through a ancient Goddess ritual. To symbolise a cup with wine in it and call it blood is a clear Goddess symbol with the cup being the vagina and the wine being menstrual blood. Later on this symbol was turn into the Holy Grail.

Judas decides to betray Jesus to his enemies, and in this meal Jesus seems to be fully aware of this betrayal, and seems to encourage Judas do it. As pointed out previously the beginning of the downfall of patriarchy was started by men themselves. As they turned their backs on patriarchal religions, allowing greater freedom and education not only to the common people but to women as well. So we seem to see Judas and Jesus colluding together to bring about their own downfall. This is underlined by Judas betrays Jesus with a kiss, symbolising a companionship between them.

One of the main reasons science became so popular with the rulers of countries is that it could generate wealth through technology. Judas also betrays Jesus for 30 pieces of silver, this could also represent that Judas is science and technology. So because of this wealth technology generated the rulers were prepared to betray patriarchal religion. Judas then goes on to hang himself, so like Jesus he sacrifices himself. So both Jesus and Judas symbolises men who not only betray patriarchy by quietly helping women to gain power and status in society, but who also willingly sacrifice themselves to women.

When taken capture Jesus makes no resistance, and when condemned and judged by his enemies he makes no attempt to defend himself. In recent years Feminists have attacked both patriarchy and men in general. Although some men have resented this on the whole men have made little attempt to in any way defend themselves and have preferred to remain quiet.

Jesus' enemies took him before Pilate and condemned him, but Pilate wasn't interested. They continued to insist on having him executed and Pilate decided to pass the buck and sent Jesus to King Herod to be tried. It seems that Herod was also sympathetic to Jesus but again Jesus made no attempt to help himself and refused to answer Herod's questions. In the end Herod mocked Jesus and treated him with contempt, put a fine robe on him and sent him back to Pilate.

Now in many ways this reflects the attitude of men today. Religious fundamentalists and extreme right-wing politicians have tried to put the clock back to the "good old days", of extreme patriarchy. Their anger is not only directed at women but other men who seem to be letting the side down. As patriarchal religions and very right-wing politics no longer hold the power in the land they have to appeal to those who do have the power, symbolised by Pilate and Herod. As a result politicians today will get up and talk about going back to "strong family values". But being politicians they only say this because they think it might gain them votes or get people who are pressurising them off their backs. Knowing full well that there is nothing they can really do to reverse the continuous decline in patriarchy.

So Jesus seems to be representing the passive man of today who is allowing women to gain more and more power and status within society. The media of today like Herod mock and treat the "new man" with contempt, but even here there is a division of opinion. Feminism is now very strong within the media as well so the "new-man" also does get some support, probably symbolised by the fine robe Herod gives Jesus.

When Jesus is sent back to Pilate, Pilate still insists that Jesus has done nothing wrong, but bowing to pressure decides to have Jesus whipped to satisfy an angry crowd that Jesus' enemies brought together to condemn him. There are men today who voluntarily pay for themselves to be whipped by Dominatrices. As Jesus made no attempt to help himself to escape from this situation and even encouraged Judas to betray him, it could also be a symbol of the increase of male masochism today.

The whipping fails to satisfy the blood lust of the crowd and Pilate tries to get Jesus free on a Passover pardon for criminals. But the crowd demand that a prisoner who had been put into jail for riot and murder be set free instead. This very much symbolises the attitude of the right-wing, who have far greater regard for patriarchal criminals than the "new man". We can see this on TV and films where there is an increase of violent films, where young men are encouraged to be macho by being violent. As violent men and even serial killers are glamorised and made into heroes. Probably the producers of these violent films hope that it will make young men more macho, who will in turn put women "in their place".

Pilate in the end caves into pressure to have Jesus crucified, and "washes his hands of him". Like Inanna, Jesus is stripped of all his clothing, then the Roman soldiers mock him by putting a crown of thorns on his head. Already men in this century have began to condemn themselves, talking about "man's inhumanity to man". In the past men would put the blame of the problems for the world onto other men. Like Hitler who blamed the Jews, or the rich who blame the poor or the poor who blame the rich etc. But blaming just one group is now becoming more and more unacceptable and it is being realised that all men are the cause of the world's problems. So the crown of thorns is the realisation by men that when they ruled the world they caused great suffering not only to themselves but to all of life. The crown represents the power men had to rule the world and the thorns are the suffering it caused, to whole of humankind as well as the planet.

The cross is put on Jesus' back for him to carry it to the place where he will be crucified. There is no problem with interpretation here because Christians themselves see the image of "carrying your cross" to mean carrying all the sins of the world on your back. Unfortunately Jesus proved to be too weak to carry the cross, and the soldiers forced another stronger man called Simon to carry it for him. The "new man" today is considered by society to be "weak and wimpish" while a normal patriarchal man is seen to be "strong and tough". So to have a strong and therefore patriarchal man carry the cross as well is an interesting development. There are many men today who act like a fully patriarchal macho man but inside they are not like this, so in most cases it is an act because it is how men are expected to behave. This means that seemingly macho men will also begin to carry the cross of shame for the patriarchal past.

Jesus was then crucified between two criminals, who in our society are also considered to be very "macho" so therefore also patriarchal. It means all types of men will be crucified when the matriarchal age comes into being.

One of the criminals mocks Jesus but the other criminal is more sympathetic and Jesus says to him "I promise you that today you will be in Paradise with me". The patriarchal age was not only hell for women but for men themselves, because the aggressive behaviour created wars, conflict, inequality and persecution for men as well as for women. So to live in a society where this aggressive behaviour becomes controlled by women would, compared with the patriarchal society become a paradise. The Paradise Jesus talked about to the criminal, is the matriarchal society that will come into being when men completely sacrifice themselves to women.

The crucifixion is witnessed by the three Marys which would be the ancient Triple Goddess of Crone, Mother and Maid. Jesus's birth was also witnessed by three wise men from the east. Some Scholars claim that Isis is the original Virgin Mary, as the word Mary comes from the ancient Egyptian word meri meaning "beloved" and is the name of the Goddess Meri-f-us a guardian of Osiris and probably another name for Isis. When Jesus died he shouted out in a loud voice "Father! in to your hands I place my spirit". If we are to change the word father to mother what he said is the final complete surrender of men into the hands of women.

Like Inanna, Jesus dies and later "rises from the dead", which is also witnessed by three women, (the Triple Goddess) so in this way a new patriarchal age begins, and like the story of Inanna it is about the continuous cycle of patriarchal and matriarchal ages.

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