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Goddess Inanna - strong, self-determined femininity in Sumer

Inanna as morning star

By on 16 April 2020

Radiant Inanna

Radiant Inanna as goddess of heaven (the 8-rayed star), queen of earth (the lion) and ruler of the underworld (7 sceptres for 7 spheres of life).
[edited, original s. Akkadian cylinder seal, c. 2500 B.C. ]

Goddess Inanna - strong self-determined femininity in Sumer

The goddess of love in Sumerian mythology

According to tradition, the Sumerian goddess Inanna is a strong, courageous and self-efficient woman and thus a role model for every woman.

Goddess Inanna: 5000 year old traditions

Translation of the 4000 year old texts by Samuel Kramer

Inanna's story is probably 5000 years old or even older.
Some of
the texts, burnt into clay tablets, lay dormant in the earth for around 4000 years. It was not until the second half of the 20th century that fragments of clay tablets could be pieced together and translated by the Sumerologist Samuel Kramer[1]. His work serves as the basis for the reflections on Sumerian mythology on this website.

Coining on clay tablets in Babylon by Hammurabi I.

For a long time, the Sumerian traditions surrounding Inanna were only passed on orally. Itwas not until 1000 years or even much later after their creation that they were written down by the "grandchild culture", namely by the Babylonian ruler Hammurabi I (see also From Sumer to Babylon - historical backgrounds) wrote them down.

Insertion of "younger" elements

It is likely that elements from later cultures such as the Akkadian and Babylonian histories were already incorporated in the writing. For example, the name Gilgamesh for the hero and lover of the goddess is probably a later addition. His Sumerian name "Dumuzi" simply means "son of life" (s. The Sumerian language and its development). This "title" denotes positive masculinity which, according to the will of the loving father, gives itself to the feminine (as also Christ / Messiah, the Anointed One).

Inanna - the first goddess of love

Many cultures know a goddess of love. In Sumer she was called Inanna, in Egypt Isis or Ashe(t); in Babylon Ishtar, in Phoenician Astarte, in Canaan her name was Ashera, in Greece Aphrodite and in Rome Venus.

The Morning Star

Inanna and Venus, the Star of the Goddess of Love

The star of the Goddess of Love is Venus. As a rising star or morning star, it symbolises the virginal aspect of the goddess, pure love. As the setting star or evening star, it represents mature love and the path through the underworld (see . Ereshkigal, Mistress of the Underworld)..

Goddess Inanna - a female archetype

As a goddess an anima figure

As a goddess, Inanna represents an archetype of strong femininity and is thus an anima figure. (As the inner woman she also symbolises the soul of the man, which he has to win on his way to wholeness, see The Way of the Man into the Spirit and The Integration of the Feminine Parts).

Thus Goethe wrote about the Anima in the form of the beautiful Helena (Faust II):

The eternal feminine draws us towards it.

Note in passing: Mother and Father - ANNA and ABBA

The German HinAN - hinauf is interesting here, because a Hinan also includes a HinAb.
In the Sumerian-Akkadian tradition, AnZustands for the great above (spirit, heaven) and AbZufor the great below (matter, underworld). Thus, on the one hand, the great mother for the feminine, which represents life in matter, has become AnNa, and on the other hand, the great father in heaven for masculinity, which has made its way into spirit, has become AbBa. (S. Notes on the Sumerian language.)

Inanna - Nin-An-Na: From Heaven to Earth

Meaning of the name: down from heaven into matter

The name Inanna can be traced back to the Sumerian Nin-An-Na. NIN means goddess. AN is the name for the great above and thus for heaven and the realm of the spirit. NA is the inversion of AN and points to the path of the goddess, which leads from "heaven" above down to earth and finally also to the underworld.

[S. The Female Way into Matter.]

The Goddess 3-in-1: Potential, Reality and Destiny

The different phases of the goddess' life in turn also represent different archetypes as well as different aspects of living matter. Thus, as a virgin with her pure love she is "Goddess of Heaven", as an initiated woman and mother she is "Queen of the Earth" and as an old sage she is "Mistress of the Underworld". In detail:

Feminine Wholeness 3-in-1: Divinity through a Fulfilled Life of Self-Efficacy

Inanna, as a goddess, holds all the areas that belong to the woman's path:

1. as a virgin goddess of heaven:

With pure spiritual love as the unifying element, Virgo symbolises the potential, the ether or sea of all possibilities. And she has a faith that can move mountains.

2. as initiated woman and mother queen of the earth

The initiated woman and mother has taken dominion over her body, symbolized by the earth (see. The four elements). In the superordinate sense she also represents the living material reality.

3. as a wise great mother mistress of the underworld

The great mother has taken the life force in matter on her way through the underworld(animus) and thus symbolises fate and the forces of nature.

Goddess Inanna - a model for strong femininity

The Goddess' Struggle for Love

Self-efficacy in all phases of life

The Sumerian mythology tells Inanna's whole life with the different phases, as it corresponds to the life of every woman. Special emphasis is placed on the phases of upheaval, on initiation (first sexual intercourse) and the path through the underworld (crisis of the middle years; see The Woman's Way / Female Path).

Youth: Fighting for love

Inanna is therefore a "goddess" because she also masters the difficult phases of life consciously and self-efficiently. Thus, as the young goddess Inanna, she wins her throne and her bed, symbols of self-efficacy and self-determined sexuality. And the 77 ME, the powers of wisdom, are awarded to her after she has successfully stood up for her love.

The path through the underworld

At a ripe old age, she courageously and of her own accord makes her way down into the underworld, the realm of shadows and the dead. There she dies and is resurrected on the third day by her loving father.

Struggle for the relationship

She returns to earth and next goes directly into a confrontation with her unfaithful spouse, the shepherd god and the god of the growth of the grain.

Inanna - Goddess in the power of love 

The Goddess and Her Hero King: Dying and Rising of Love

In simple, strong images - innocent and without judgement - Sumerian mythology describes the long journey of the goddess and her hero king through confusions and entanglements to true love, wholeness, fullness and eternal life. The path through the underworld is a central element, because it includes the death and resurrection of love.

Father and Mother, Spirit and Matter

The elemental forces of the world are involved; namely father and mother, spirit and matter, heaven and earth, the Great Above and the Great Below. Thus the loving Father as the God of Wisdom and the Great Mother, Goddess of the Underworld, play an important role in a story that is still relevant today.

Symbols and archetypes in the traditions around Inanna

Influence into the biblical tradition

Thus, the story of Goddess Inanna, which is one of the earliest human traditions, contains weighty symbols and archetypes such as:


These archetypal symbols and many others have been incorporated into later traditions, religions, mythologies and fairy tales and have also shaped Judeo-Christian teachings in particular.

The pictorial stories around Inanna are delightful and fascinating, and also suitable for enriching and deepening the understanding of the basic themes of humanity from the very beginning.

Let's start with the Sumerian tradition around Inanna:

The Garden of the Goddess in Eden (Episode 1)
In the first days (Prologue, Part I)


[1] WOLKSTEIN, DIANE / KRAMER SAMUEL NOAH. Inanna, Queen of Heaven and Earth. Her Stories and Hymns from Sumer. New York 1983

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