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Inanna´s Descent.

Perhaps the best way to learn about the journey you are going now on is the original way: through hearing a great story- not just a story, or even a personal story, but a myth story.

For centuries, hero myths have been told to entertain, but more importantly to teach , inspire and to prepare initiates for their rites of passage. It is through identifying with a character who is larger than life that you internalize your heroine. Her mythic story -her call, her hardship, her determination, her cleverness and her triumph-will become an inner map guiding you through and beyond your own rite of passage. The ancient Sumerian myth of the journey of Inanna has proven to be especially powerful for parents because the warriors queen´s preparation, ordeal, and return parallel modern women's experience during the childbearing year.

It's customary for a storyteller to begin by introducing the roots of the story, that is, the place it comes from and the people who first told it. Ìnanna´s Descent`as the myth is know, has roots that runs deep, for it is the oldest story ever written. It has the first set down, 2300bc in Sumeria, which occupied some of the land that now is Iraq. is a mythic story about a warrior- queen-mother who made the classic heroic journey.

Inanna was a woman of power, a warrior, a queen, a poet and the priestess of 7 temples. Inanna heard her Call from the Great Below. She knew that answering it would disrupt her life's rhythms and relationships and bring uncertainty. Like hearing the drum beating in the distance, it's impossible to ignore such a Call for a while, but persist until answered. When inanna´s heart was ready , she accepted her call. From that moment on, there was no turning back. With her whole body and mind she began preparing for her inner journey.

Inanna was the priestess of 7 temples, a time consuming vacation as Sumerian temples were busting community centers, with markets, gardens, social gathering and ceremonies. To free up time to retreat from her ordinary life, Inanna´s first task was to abandon her 7 temples.

Her next task was gathering 7 royal articles imbued with power that would offer her protection as she journeyed through the unknown. Inanna dressed for her rite of passage in her finest royal warrior clothes, arranged her hair and donned her crown. Around her neck she tied a lapis necklace and blessing beads. To protect her heart, she tied on her warrior breastplate. Over her hand, she slipped a gold bracelet. Around her shoulder, she wrapped a royal robe. Lastly , she took up her lapis measuring rod and ring.

Inanna called to her trusted advisor, Ninshubur, Queen of the East to help her to prepare for her descent into a place from which no one returns unchanged. All the while, Ninshubur fretted. If anything goes wrong or Inanna suffers too much in the descent, Ninshubur would feel responsible for not having dissuaded her queen from taking this risk.She also worried that Inanna's powerful transformation might change their relationship. So she tried to talk Inanna out of answering her Call, but Inanna would not be deterred.

Although Ninshubur and Inanna had fought side by side in other battles, Inannas knew she could trust her faithful advisor Ninshubur above all others with the task of ensuring her safe return. She said: My dearest friend and advisor, if I don't return in 3 days by my own efforts, go to the 3 wise eldest and ask them to help me to complete my return. Do not abandon me in the underworld.

Having completed her task and Preparation, Inanna walked away from the comforts of her ordinary life. In due time, she arrived at the 1st Gate Of the underworld (Laborland)

Bidu, the Gatekeeper , whose name meant, to open, demanded, who are you?

I m Inanna, she answered queen of heavens and earth. I'm a poet, warrior, priestess and wife. I have learned the body ways of birth, yoga, herbs, dance and breathing and I have my birth plan right here in my lapis measuring rod. Let me enter.

Bidu asked: why has your heart led you here, to a place from which no one returns unchanged or unscathed?

Inanna gave her reason and demanded to be let in.

Come , he said you may enter.

As Inanna crossed the first threshold, Bidu took her crown. Inanna protested, to which Bidu explained. `the ways of the underworld are ancient and proven. It ways may not be bargained away or questioned

Inanna continued her descent through the labyrinthine passage. Gate after gate, Inanna encountered Bidu, each time the gatekeeper asked: who are you? Why has your heart led you to this place, a place from which you will not return unchanged?

Each time Inanna passed through a gate Bidu took something of value, something she had brought or worn for protection, comfort or a sign to let others know she was special. At the second gate Bidu took her lapis necklace and blessing beads, at the third, he her breastplate, at the 4th he took her royal robe, leaving her cold and exposed, at the 5th, he removed her gold bracelet, at the 6th, he took her shoes and in the 7th he took from her hand the lapis measuring rod and ring.

With each small loss, the Queen protested: it isn't fair! Give it back ! I didn't agree with this!

Bidu remained Inanna, The ways of the underworld are ancient and may not be questioned. Keep going, find out who you really are.

Gate by gate, Inanna descends deeper and deeper into the underworld. It was an unfamiliar place. She didn't know her way. Only her resolve lit the path through the dark and twisting labyrinth, across thresholds of mercy, terror and doubt.

Naked, humble, sweat and exhausted, Inanna crawled on her hands and knees towards the last threshold, she had given it her all. Finally, she arrived at the 7th gate. By now the gatekeeper had seized everything except the one thing he could not take: Inanna's determination to do what needed to be done next. Reaching deep inside herself, she mustered up a great push and another, and then another and another until the gatekeeper opened the last gate.

And there, in the deepest, most sacred place of all he saw the one who had been calling her and who was still calling to her (her newborn baby). In this transformative moment, the person Inanna had died. In the next breath, she was reborn (as a mother)

3 days and 3 nights passed. Inanna was suspended between the 2 worlds. She could not make it home. 3 days is a long time to wait while someone you love is out of reach in the underworld. Ninsshubur went to the elders. The first 2 will not help, blaming Inanna for her predicament. The third elder listened carefully and came up with a plan. Of the three only he knew the way out because he had gone to the underworld and returned. He created two allies and gave them the Water of Life and the Food of Life, and instructed them to take these to Inanna.

Once she gathered the strength, Inanna began to hear another Call, this time from the Great Above, to return to her life. She began her slow ascent.

At each gate on her return, the Gatekeeper took from Inanna something that belonged to the underworld. At the 1st gate, he took self-absorption from her and gave her gratitude. At the 2nd gate he took worry from her and gave her relief. At the 3rd gate he took a sleep from her and gave her stamina. At the 4th gate he took old relationships dynamics and gave her renewal. At the 5th gate he took the weight of blame of self and others and gave her understanding. At the 6th gate he stops her mind from spinning. At the 7th gate. He took pride and gave her humility. At the 8th gate Bidu took her gathering basket and turned her attention inward. At the 9th gate, he lifted the weight of the whole story and gave her wisdom.

The warrior-priestess who had left on this journey was surely not the one returned, from the descent and return had transformed Inannna´s mind, body and heart.

From the book Ancient map from modern birth. Palm England.

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