Musings in the Olive Grove

From Ancient Myth to Modern Inspiration: The relevance of Inanna for Women Today


The myth of Inanna is one of the most ancient stories that have come down to us from the Sumerian civilisation of Mesopotamia, dating back to the third millennium BCE. Inanna, the goddess of love, fertility and war, was a powerful figure in the pantheon of ancient deities, revered by the people of the region for her ability to grant blessings and bestow prosperity upon her followers.  The myth of Inanna goes beyond her divine status and offers a timeless narrative that speaks to the struggles and aspirations of women throughout time.

At its heart, Inanna is a story of transformation and self-discovery.  The goddess embarks on a journey to the underworld to visit her sister Ereshkigal, the queen of the dead.  Ereshkigal was grieving the death of her husband and also heavily pregnant.  Inanna was motivated to visit her as an act of empathy and compassion. Before she can reach her destination, and meet with Ereshkigal, Inanna must undergo a series of challenging trials.  In the process she is stripped of her power, her dignity and even her clothing, and she is forced to face her own mortality and vulnerability.  Yet, despite these setbacks, Inanna perseveres and ultimately emerges from the underworld transformed, bearing new knowledge, wisdom and a deeper understanding of her place in the world.

For the modern woman, the myth of Inanna offers a powerful metaphor for the journey of transformation. Like Inanna, women today face a myriad of challenges and obstacles as they navigate their lives, from societal expectations, gender norms, to personal insecurities and self-doubt.  Inanna reminds us that these struggles are not insurmountable and that we have the inner strength and resilience to overcome them. She offers us a map to guide us through the dark nights of the soul, she teaches us how to embrace our vulnerabilities, confront our fears, so we can emerge from our own underworlds with new found wisdom and self-awareness.

Furthermore, Inanna challenges traditional notions of femininity and offers a more complex and nuanced view of womanhood.  Inanna is not a passive or submissive figure, rather a multi-faceted and dynamic one, who embodies both feminine and masculine qualities.  She is a goddess of love and fertility, also of war and power, and is not afraid to assert herself and pursue her desires.  In doing so, Inanna contests the gender stereotypes that have constrained women for centuries and offers a more expansive model of what it means to be a woman.

In addition to its relevance to individual women, the myth also has broader implications for society as a whole. The story can be read as a critique of patriarchal structures and a call for greater gender equality.  Inanna’s story to the underworld can be seen for a metaphor for the way’s women have been suppressed, marginalised and excluded from positions of power and influence.  The fact that Inanna ultimately triumphs over her oppressors and reclaims her power suggests that we too have the potential to disrupt and transform the status quo.

Finally, the myth of Inanna serves as a reminder of the enduring power of storytelling and mythmaking. Despite its age and origins in a long-forgotten civilisation, Inanna’s story continues to resonate with women today.  She offers us a timeless message of hope, strength and transformation.

The Soul Praxis Spring series of workshops includes the story of Inanna.  Follow the link for more information.

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