Home > Thoughts on the Goddess > From Inanna to Madonna

From Inanna to Madonna

I am reading two exceptional  books on the Goddess. The first one was purchased by Rosemary for her research and work on Inanna, a very early Sumerian Goddess of Heaven and Earth. As soon as I saw the book I knew I had to read it and Rosemary hasn’t seen it since! The book? Inanna Queen of Heaven and Earth, Her Stories and Hymns from Sumer by Diane Wolkstein and Samuel Noah Kramer. Maybe it’s the red cover with gold lettering in the title that attracted me. Or maybe it is the name – Inanna…who knows what past-life connections I may have to this powerful feminine principal from ancient times.

Actually  the stories and hymns from the book are ancient; they were first written down on clay tablets in cuneiform at least 4,000 years ago.  Sumer was settled during the 5th millennium BC and became known as Sumer about 3,000 BC. The stories are likely far older in the oral literature carried by the people. Inanna’s reign spans a fascinating period of history when humans were in transition from a nomadic to an agrarian life style and began to gather and live in city-states. In the west we consider this period the rise of civilization there in the so called fertile crescent between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers.  She also reigns over a very important shift in the way humanity governed itself as men began to gather power onto themselves and as the mystery of life held by women for millennia before this period began to lose it’s influence on society.

Was this a fateful or fatal shift in the balance of power? It was definitely fateful; time will tell if it was fatal! And this brings me to my first point: we are in the beginning of another shift.  Men who have held power over humanity for at least the past 4,000 years are beginning to lose their control. Women are coming to prominence in many fields; women are taking control of finances from the family level to institutions; women are beginning to play a major role in governing throughout the world; women are coming back into their own right. Women will save the world! –  Hopefully in the nick of time.

The Goddesses, Inanna, Ishtar, Mari, Diana, Isis, Hecate, Pasiphae, Selene, Brigit, Cybele, the Shekinah, Lilith, Persephone,… all moon goddesses, and all related, are still with us, just as the moon is still with us! It is time to find Her again if we are to save ourselves through Her support.

The second book? Longing for Darkness, Tara and the Black Madonna by China Galland.  This is the story of the one woman’s search for the Divine Feminine, not only for herself but for all women (and men!). I first read this book years ago; it is a great source book for Buddhist teachings and is a wonderful travelogue as Ms. Galland goes on pilgrimages in search of Tara and the Black Madonnas. Through her travels and time with teachers she discovers the connections among all the moon goddesses from Tara to Kali to Inanna to the Madonna. And she finds the Divine Feminine in herself.

I have the honor and privilege to live with the Divine Feminine as personified by Rosemary. All of these goddesses in my life give me hope for humanity. The immediate future does not look all that great! It has taken men 4,000 years to get us to this point. Perhaps it will take a few years of recovery and balance before we can see the true light through the brilliant and beautiful eyes of the Goddess.

  1. Maureen
    February 28, 2010 at 8:13 am

    Hi! I answered first to your facebook so now am trying to recreate that spontaneous response after a few days of mulling over my first edition of Wolkstein’s book.
    And as I am always experiencing, everything has morphed into something related but different and more rambling–but there is a point to the rambling. (There are a lot of writing styles we don’t honor in the west; especially that spiral model for Chinese.)
    I loved this book, this story, from the first time I read it. Iananna’s drinking bout with Enki made me laugh. I grew up in what can only be called ‘matriarchy’ in a town with a shrine to the Madonna (for special care, esp. healing, no less, but her medal shows all 7 light streams and we often debated if she was crushing the serpent’s head as she stepped on it, or massaging it :-). “We” being myself and sisters. We would have been quite at home at the drinking bout.
    When in my 30s I finally had time for myself and college, I included the academic studies side of exploring the goddess–well not just her, I did as much as I could to learn about world religions–survey courses and such. Mythology I’d been reading since I could read. (Had to climb up the shelved to reach the books.)
    I was already deeply entrenched in understanding goddess energies. Most of my life has been making the effort to get my animus jump-kicked into realizing some more corporeal things on the material level, a place I really don’t like to spend much time at all (preferring my writer’s world, where I go to do stories whether or not I’m writing them.) I had gotten more than enough from the patriarchial training of the early RC church (pre council), so had a pretty good sense of where the god sat in terms of relation to us.
    So, when I read about discovering goddess energy, I can’t relate. I can’t imagine not knowing of it wafting through everything.

    And God energy–well look to the RC church and the state laws, and so on, and that came through pretty well also.

    But now, mixing them–and I mean mixing, not balancing–there’s the rub. I don’t believe we perform any single action with sole goddess or god energy. I simply believe we haven’t gone inside enough to ‘see’ the way the two spiral about like our double helix, dancing this marvelous dance of constant creation at so many levels.
    Martha Graham has this fabulous piece–Dance of Angels. The first couple, yellow, are springlike/romeo-juliet first love; the second, the red couple, hot and and heavy passion for the middle time; but my absolute FAVORITE, the white couple are the last, mature and Graham has each movement of one matched/balanced by the other. This is how I imagine our swirling, double helix dance moving through us.
    And for Inanna and Dumuzi, the story ends with learning death. The stripping down to nothing–just skins tacked on Ereshkigal’s wall.
    And then they are able to return and truly serve the world as they should in their highest vibration.
    This is how I think about the myth, and I say Inanna scores more because she goes willingly into death to resolve the problem, while Dumuzi has to be dragged down there.

  2. February 25, 2010 at 10:18 pm

    Dear Richard,

    Thank you for your kind words about Longing for Darkness, they are much appreciated! My husband, Corey, will be pleased to see your entries too.

    Out of curiosity, do you have the new edition (2007) or the first edition 1990/1991? The difference is the new introduction and the cover (Einsiedeln) of the 2007 edition.

    I haven’t looked at Lao Tzu in a long time, but reading your remarks told me that I should do so again soon.

    FYI: The course I teach at the Graduate Theological Union based on Longing for Darkness is growing and I sense a quickening everywhere on this subject and a new consideration of darkness as something positive and rich. Though chasms between people in U.S. society seem to widen, the awareness of the racism upon which white society depends is also growing. In that awareness lies the possibility of change.

    I now look back and see that the two books I wrote after Longing form a trilogy with my work on Longing for Darkness. Next came The Bond Between Women, a Journey to Fierce Compassion (1999), and most recently Love Cemetery, Unburying the Secret History of Slaves (2008). My son and I are in the midst of making a documentary film about the latter.

    I wish you and Rosemary joy and delight, and when needed, a heart-cleansing sorrow.



    • February 25, 2010 at 11:10 pm

      Dear China,

      I am thrilled to hear from you. I am currently reading the 2007 edition of Longing for Darkness having read the first edition some years ago. Your book, your journeys of the heart, and your on-going work are inspirational, and I hope my modest references lead others to you.

      And, I trust it is OK with you that I quote brief passages from Longing for Darkness in this and future posts. Thank you for your kindness and kind words.

      Many blessings!

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