Around about the same time, mid third century, as the church councils of Nicaea and Laodicia had finished deciding what you could and could not read, where you could pray and to whom,
And so prescribing the size and shape of experience..
we also find the first accounts of intervention in cases of madness.
which you might expect given the whole square peg, round hole..
on pain of pain..
And converting the gold of individuation back into the lead of corporate man.
So, we are fucked; is that what you sayin’?
Not at all, the prototype of Gilgamesh……..
…….is not the only possibility for us. The ancient Sumerians were kind enough to leave us a companion volume to the story of Gilgamesh, the story of Innana.
Yeh, carved on clay tablets 5000 years ago..
why didn’t you say that before? Forty posts it’s been, forty frikkin posts of doom and gloom..
I was getting there, it takes time to tell a story…
So, let me get this right, the Sumerians, poised on the cusp of a brave new world of intolerance, persecution and eradication of the divine feminine in the shape of beardy, fast moving Assyrians, coughed up two volumes you say…
and some poetry…
One, the tragic story of Gilgamesh who thought he could mess with the Gods and this Innana, please tell me it ends differently…
Very different, because the story of Innana is the counterpoint of Gilgamesh, the proud king who wanted to eradicate the Goddess.
The story of Innana is about the death of one’s old self and being redeemed by something other than one’s own efforts.
It is about surrender and renewal rather than the heroic club of one and self estrangement we find in the dark brother stories.
Ok. So, Innana, who is herself a goddess, decides to visit her dark sister, Ereshkigal, in the bowels of the Underworld. Ereshkigal, who is very mean, gets veeeery pissed at the thought that Innana would just show up like that without..
making an appointment,
and sends her guards to meet Innana at the topmost gateway to the Underworld where they take from her a garment at every one of the seven subsequent gates until Innana is naked before Ereshkigal who kills her with a single blow and hangs her up on a meathook..
you said it would be better than Gilgamesh….!
it will, just wait..
a counterpoint you said…
but I’m not done. Ninshubar, Innana’s servant, doesn’t hear back from her mistress and sends out word to ask the other gods for help. Enki responds, taking the dirt from beneath his fingernails and breathing life into it. The little dirt creatures visit Ereshkigal who is in terrible pain…
‘Oh my belly,’ she moans.
‘Oh your belly ‘, they moan.
‘Oh, my head’, she cries.
‘Oh your head’, they cry..
and eventually the compassionate little dirt creatures manage to beg Ereshkigal for Innana’s body back and restore her….
What saves Innana is not the heroism of her own inflated efforts. She submits to Ereshkigal willingly and allows herself to be stripped of what she knows.
How often is life like this? When we cross a threshold and have to go forwards feeling naked and exposed. When we have to submit to what is happening around us, when some way of knowing ourselves dies within us…
When we are hung up like green meat and cannot help ourselves yet somehow it pans out..
because the Universe is just a bit bigger than we gave it credit…
and all the trouble we go through is preparation for the self we are to become.
Ereshkigal compells us to face ourselves, to accept the grief and rage, to let ourselves be gutted, devoured, consumed….
…and precisely so that we may, in some unforseeable way, be not only redeemed but reborn.