I am ever fascinated by the interestingly winding road upon which I tread, the spinning galactic floor upon which I dance sometimes in a circle, sometimes in a spiral and other times a serpentine line....
The other day (Tuesday of this week) at the onset of one of the dance classes I facilitate, a few of the participants were exchanging names and one of the ladies lamented that she had a very "old fashioned name" ~ specifically, Donna ~ to which I responded another friend with the name Donna created her facebook page as Inanna Donna. Donna smiled as she liked the sound of that and I encouraged her to do some homework on Inanna (which of course also had me thinking I need to get a "round tuit" and revisit Her tale as well).
Ok, so la de da, la de da, la de da, the next day (Wednesday) my friend Susan informs she has a gifted me a copy of the forthcoming Winter edition of Parabola magazine. Since the theme for this forthcoming edition is "Goddess" she was certain I'd want a copy and she was 100% correct!
Fast forward to today (Saturday), and in anticipation of arrival of said magazine, I decided to visit the magazine's website and lo and behold (mmmm hmmm, I know you are gonna guess it....) right there on home page is an image akin to the photo I took of the Queen of Night (above) and when I clicked on the link it took to Christine Irving’s essay “Inanna: Relevance and Return.” (You can also listen to a related podcast)
Ms. Irving's essay reveals a concise retelling of the Inanna myth along with great analogies:
"At every level this myth resounds with true situations in which humans of every age find themselves. But it specifically appeals to modern women, because in Inanna we find a heroine who predates the extremes of patriarchal culture in which we find ourselves enmeshed today. She acts independently, while remaining in good relationship with men—her father, brother... She has a strong, solid friend and ally in Ninshubar. She is not afraid to face the unknown and perseveres in the face of loss and sacrifice. Like many women she struggles in relationship with her mate.
But the part of the story with which women resonate most strongly is the journey of relinquishment, the egoic death, and the restoration of power. Using this part of the myth, circles of women have been manifesting and enacting their own rituals of letting go, creating space, and allowing new ways of seeing and being to take the place of what no longer serves them."
Certainly, my journey includes enacting rituals of letting go and creating space for the presence of the Divine to bless/grace me with new ways of seeing & being and those rituals include the shimmering of the Systrum*and an on-going return to the drum, which it just so happens I will indeed be doing tomorrow, when I trek to NYC to partake in a lesson with Glen Velez on the 7th floor of a building on 7th Avenue. Mmmmm hmmmm, how's that for some symbolism?! I.E., it doesn't go unnoticed by me the correlation to the seven chakras ~ which reminds me to encourage you to listen to Glen's marvelous recording: Rhythms of the Chakras.
*As mentioned at the website dedicated to the Systrum, when referencing The life of Meresamun, Temple Singer in Ancient Egypt edited by Emily Teeter & Janet H. Johnson:
was thought to protect the goddess and her subjects.
This protection is made clear by scenes
at the temple of Hathor at Dendera that are captioned:
the one who is hostile to Hathor, Mistress of Heaven
Meanwhile, I sent a message to Bernadette today (Saturday) explaining my fascination with this image and that I distinctly recalled taking a photo of the "Queen of the Night" Mesopotamian terracotta plaque which she made a point of showing me when guiding me on her AWESOME tour of the British museum. However, I could not precisely recall why Bernadette made a point of showing Her to me, I mean, other than the obvious, the plaque is a wonderful depiction of a Goddess. Nevertheless, according to the museum's info, they are uncertain if She is meant to represent Lilitu, Inanna/Ishtar, or Ereshkigal. The description below the stella reads:
The Queen of the Night represents an ancient Mesopotamian goddess. She may have been Inanna/Ishtar, goddess of sexual love and war, or perhaps Inanna/Istar's sister and rival, the goddess Ereshkigal, who ruled the Underworld.
I asked Bernadette, What do you think? and Bernadette replied, I showed you Inanna's sister called Ereshkigal of the underworld.
to be continued...
UPDATE Monday 11/18/19: Most synchronistically, in the class with my teacher Glen Velez yesterday (Sunday), I met Barbara Flynn with whom I shared my enthusiasm and delight in being able to once again be in class with Glen, returning to my ritual of drumming and then I proceeded to also tell her my tale of Inanna making Her presence known to me during the course of the last few days (as described above). She looked at me with a bit of astonishment and proceeded to tell me that on her train ride into the city to also attend this class she had just finished reading about Inanna in the book "Descent to the Goddess: A Way of Initiation for Women" by Sylvia Brinton Perera ~ Barbara highly recommended the book.
(BTW, here is an interesting on-line review of Perera's book by Elaine Mansfield:
I am fascinated by all this synchronicity and reflect on this "appearance" of Inanna to me over the course of the past several days! One thought that occurs to me is that here in the eastern U.S. we recently turned back the clocks triggering shorter daylight, a plunge if you will into greater darkness and longer nights which I typically feel sets in motion a time of inward reflection/introspection, a going underground (to the subconscious) and exploring the depths so that I may emerge again in the Spring renewed, refreshed, restored having spent time with my frame drum & systrum invoking the trance states necessary for transformation.
I feel the Goddess is calling and Her call is unavoidable. She is beckoning me, encouraging me to have courage with Her invitation to keep my inner fires aflame, dare I say burning bright versus the dark of night and right now all the more so in the darkness of our times when so much disregard for the survival of the planet and rampant racism, misogyny, xenophobia, homophobia, transphobia ~ all have reared their ugly heads in such overwhelming prevelent way.
Yes, Her call is unavoidable. She is beckoning you and me, encouraging us to have courage with Her invitation to keep the inner fires aflame and to remember in the story of Inanna, when her minister Ninshubar "beats the drum to petition for Inanna's release (from the the underworld), she is enacting a very old shamanistic rite. Drumming is the traditional means used by shamans to descend to the underworld and to return... playing of the drum maintains the link between worlds. Without the sound of the drum to lead the way, the shaman would be lost forever in the underworld." (p. 87 When the Drummers Were Women by Layne Redmond)
*** YESsss, play your drum, shimmer the Systrum, return to ritual ***
Read more about the Burney Relief (also known as the Queen of the Night relief), Mesopotamian terracotta plaque: