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PRIMAL RELIGION and CIVILIZATIONS to 1000 BCE

The Goddess Inanna

A reader from New Mexico complains about my not having mentioned the Sumerian goddess Inanna, whom she describes as the "Queen of Heaven and Earth in much of Sumer's early and middle history." She writes of priestesses running temples and "the whole thing was presided over by Inanna."

She adds:  The Akkadians and Babylonians borrowed a lot of Sumerian material and then turned it sideways or upside-down (Inanna became a minor deity to them).  Inanna was, like Ishtar and Aphrodite etc., identified with the morning star, the evening star, and she took the Shepherd King (Dumuzi) as her consort.  She also descended to the Underworld, died and was resurrected.

Wikipedia's article on Inanna:

Inanna was one of the most revered of goddesses among later Sumerian mythology. She was said to descend from the ancient family of the creator goddess Nammu, who was her grandmother. Inanna held "full power of judgment and decision and the control of the law of heaven and earth." Her sacred planet was Venus, the evening star.

She was often symbolized as a lioness in battle.

Along the Tigris and Euphrates rivers were many shrines and temples dedicated to Inanna. The temple of E Anna, Inanna's House of Heaven, in Uruk, was the greatest of these. This temple was 5000 years old and had been built and rebuilt many times to hold a community of sacred women who cared for the temple lands. The high priestess of Inanna would choose for her bed one she would appoint as shepherd. He would represent Dumuzi, sacred son/lover of Inanna, if he could prove his worth.

In later times, Inanna lost some of her attributes, which were then said then to have been given her by Enki, rather than by her grandmother Nammu and her mother Ningal. The myth states that Inanna traveled to Eridu and was given the one hundred Mes, which were the gifts of culture such as truth and justice, as well as practical skills such as weaving and pottery-making. Though Enki regretted his drunken decision to release the Mes to her and sent mighty sea monsters to stop her boat as it sailed the Euphrates, she was able to defeat them and bring the knowledge back to Uruk.