Inanna is an ancient Sumerian goddess, and her journey down into the underworld provides a powerful lesson about crisis, about the times in life when things are more painful then we think we can bear. Each and every one of us will experience times when things fall apart, times when we lose a loved one, a relationship, a job, or even a home. During these times, we are forced to let go of how things have been. We are stripped of part of our identity. It can feel terrifying, it can feel unfair, yet these moments when our self-identity is less solid can provide a powerful initiation into a greater sense of freedom. The dismantling of identity throws us into unknown territory and into change.
Our western culture has little patience for these times of change and transformation. We run around, with our tight, busy schedules, claiming we don’t have time for grief, loss, or a crisis. We are impatient; we think that something is wrong and that we must simply “get over it” and get back to “normal” as quickly as possible. In our attempts at efficiency, we lose out on the wisdom and growth found in the grieving and transformation process.
It is vitally important that we allow ourselves to be with our feelings of grief for as long as it takes for them to compost into something fertile and new. Sometimes this process takes time, a long time. But, if you can surrender to the experience, like you have practiced doing with your fear and anger, you will find a jewel waiting for you. The darkest parts of your experience have much to teach you. When you willingly open to feel your pain, your heart breaks wide open, your eyes become clear, and your feminine roots can grow stronger and your ability to feel compassion deepens.
We find the themes of death and resurrection at the center of most cultural and religious myths of the world. Many indigenous cultures value the transformational potential of “falling apart,” in particular this experience is cultivated through the practice of deep inner journeys or trance work. Much like Inanna did, these shamans too go down to the underworld and surrender to transformation so that the old experience of identity gives way to the new.
In our ancient myths and practices we can rediscover a much needed framework which can help us understand our experience of deep pain and suffering. These myths can be our road maps for those times when we feel we have lost our way.
In the video below I tell the short version of the myth about Inannans journey to the underworld.
Image above by Bibbi Friman