From Inanna to Persephone – Two Tales of Transformation

When I was younger I thought transformation only happened once.  Upon my first visit to the Underworld of Transformation, I remember walking that terrain as if in a daze.  Where in the world was I and why was the landscape so desolate? Then I remembered the teachings of the Goddess and Her descent into the Underworld.

At that time I was in the midst of deep and sometimes painful changes. This was also when I discovered the Sumerian story of Inanna and learned of Her descent into the Underworld.

inanna enters the underworld

Naked and Bowed Low, oil pastel on paper

Inanna heard the call of the Underworld, which was ruled by Her sister, Erishgikal.  She passed through the seven gates and entered Her sister’s realm, naked and bowed low.

Inanna, unlike Persephone, took that journey only once.  She descended, died to her old self and was reborn;  end of story.  So I naturally thought that was the way it would be for me. Perhaps in those early days of the patriarchy it only took one time to get it right.

Surrounded by Her Love, pastel on paper

Well, times change, right?  Consider Persephone, a legendary Greek maiden, who descended into the Underworld every year for 6 months.   Bless her heart… she keeps going back in a continual cycle of death and rebirth.  The story opens with Persephone, daughter of the Goddess Demeter, as an innocent young woman, who lived in the golden glow of her Mother’s love and protection.

But like all youth she was compelled to explore.  Persephone was walking in a meadow one day and she saw the beautiful narcissus flower. As she reached down to pick the flower, the earth split open, and Hades, the Lord of the Underworld emerged.  Hades then took Persephone, willingly or otherwise, in a Spiral Dance into the shadows of the underworld.  Here she  learned the power of transformation; from death to rebirth, from dark to light, lost to found, chaos to clarity, fear to transcendence.

But, what I didn’t understand about Inanna’s experience is that even though she returned to Her Realm of the living, she did have to send someone in her place.  The process of transformation is cyclical and ongoing for everyone.

Times continue to change and we now seem to be in transformation hyper-drive.  Sometimes it feels as if the old ways, the old structures are melting down around us at lightening speed.

I resist the season’s turn to winter with every step into autumn. I mourn the waning light and fear the approaching darkness.  But once the winter solstice arrives, I relish the quiet of the long nights and the inspirations of winter dreams.  The winter season is the perfect time to explore the terrain of transformation.  The hours of sunlight are short; the dark and the cold are prominent.  We are forced by nature to snuggle into ourselves and uncover the diamonds hiding in the  dark coal.

Both Persephone and Inanna  guides us during the winter season to look inside, to contemplate in stillness and to seek inner peace.  They both teach us what it’s so hard to see; the loss of what is outmoded is in our best interest; we must die to be reborn.

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6 responses to “From Inanna to Persephone – Two Tales of Transformation

  1. That was beautiful. Thank you. Lately I’ve been strongly pulled to the Persephone myth and also (not coincidentally) to introspection and transformation. Stumbling upon your blog was a treat 🙂

    • Chelsea, So glad you enjoyed. The myths of death and transformation are important ones for us and winter is such a great time for introspection, isn’t it. Inanna has been very important to me for many years now.

  2. I feel very drawn to the Inanna myth and stumbled on your blog because I was looking for images of her. I love “Inanna in Her Boat of Heaven”! (I also just finished reading Traveling with Pomegranates, so I was very interested to read your article about Black Madonnas in Europe. I so want to visit Chartres!) I’m looking forward to reading more of your blog!

    • There is truly so much wisdom for us in the stories of the ancient Goddesses. I feel that the Divine Feminine is making Herself known more and more in this time of transformation. I’m currently working on a deck of Goddess cards so many more images and posts to come. You are welcome to click on the link to be notified about new blogs and/or let me know if you’d like to be added to my e-newsletter list.
      Chartres is truly magical. Hope you can make it there one day. I would also love to return for a longer stay.

      • avisannschild

        Ooh, I can’t wait to hear more about your Goddess cards! I’m creating cards these days using SoulCollage® and I’m surprised at how much I’m loving the process. (I haven’t done much visual art making before and certainly haven’t created anything in the past that I’ve loved quite this much!)

        I’ve subscribed to your blog! 🙂

      • That’s great that you are creating art and loving it. I personally find and maintain my center through painting. First Goddess Card post coming in a couple of weeks.

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