Innana and Ereshkigal

Innana’s encounter with Ereshkigal is an encounter with numen, with divine presence. In the West there is the idea that transpersonal experience is just a kind of sentimental oneness where everything is just harmonious and wonderful.

with lambs..


and bunnies

and enough facebook feed to keep you from pondering all the wisdoms on facebook.

but its not like that, mostly… and so

despite the fact that people want to grow they are also heavily invested in maintaining the status quo precisely because transformation has the kind of de-integrating, disorienting effect you might expect from bumping into a bear.

M.L. von Franz describes her response to the first dream she had that introduced her to the a priori nature of the Deep Unconscious, to Ereshkigal’s lair.

”I pulled my knees up under my chin and stayed in bed all day”

Mostly we think of the unconscious as derivative.

Stuff I’ve pushed down.

the rubbish tip of the psyche

But, actually Erishkigal was there before you…..

and when we refer to Archetypes its often as if they were no more than templates or tendencies. But they

are actually autonomous complexes.

They have their own life.

And they can scare the living crap out of you.

I had a client who repeatedly dreamt of a terrifying figure that chased her. After a while it seemed that, greater than her fear,  was the peevish sense that this character would not come to heel..

‘After all, he’s just a part of me…’

which is precisely the attitude he was trying to scare her out of……

….to wrestle away this grandiose fantasy that we can contain or ‘integrate’ such things. No, relations are simply improved…..

on the understanding that we do not know enough to be pessimistic. ~Hazel Henderson.

The narcissistic streak in us says, ‘the psyche is what I know of it’, and places itself at the centre of the map. Its a belief that is just going to run aground at some point, whether its by the gnawing incomprehensibility of death or by way of a sudden careless glimpse through the  bars of ego’s playpen.

“We must be willing to get rid of the life we’ve planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us. The old skin has to be shed before the new one can come.” Joseph Campbell.

An apocryphal story is told about Jung to whom a man had come in crisis.

”I’ve lost my wife and my job in the same week”, he wailed.

”Just wait here a minute,” said Jung and went off, to return with a bottle of champagne and two glasses.

‘What are you doing?” asked the poor man.

‘Celebrating this opportunity for you to reinvent yourself,” said Jung and poured them both a glass.

It’s precisely when we are pinned to the wall and all our normal strategies fail or are frustrated that the deep authentic response of the Self comes through and invariably by way of pain and not knowing.

After all, Jung would be the first to acknowledge, with the clink of lead crystal, that, ‘the experience of the self is always a blow to the ego’.

What does that mean?

It means that out limited personalities cannot contain the boundless life and must be repeatedly cracked open if we are to blossom.

And so a visit to Ereshkigal is Innana’s acceptance of her seasons, a living with anxiety, and participating in that which transcends them.





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Psychotherapist/writer/artist/ author of, 'Going Mad to Stay Sane', a psychology of self-destructiveness, about to come into its third edition. Soon to be printed for the first time, 'Abundant Delicious.. the Secret and the Mystery', described by activist Satish Kumar as, ' A Tao of the Soul'. This book documents the archetypal country through which the process of individuation occurs and looks at the trials and tribulations we might expect on the way. In the meantime..... Narcissisim is the issue of our age. This blog looks at how it operates, how it can damage and how we may still fruit despite it.

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