Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Opening Erishkigal's cage


           Inanna was the Sumerian Goddess of the Heavens.  Over time she began to hear this annoying, scratching noise.  It gradually became louder and louder, even though she tried to drown it out with mead, with music, with love; it would not subside.  Soon it became deafening, and the only way to alleviate the pain it caused was to quest after it.   Putting on her royal jewels, her crown, and armor; Inanna went in search of the source of this catastrophic sound.

            Eventually she came to a deep crack in the ground, it was too narrow for her armor, so she had to remove it.   It was tight, but she made it through.  However, soon she came to another passage that was even tighter, so she removed her crown, and was able to slide through.  After every dark passage was another, smaller, more terrifying one.  At the seventh passage, Inanna had to strip bare in order to squeeze through.

            Inanna stood naked in the middle of a dark cave.  On the floor, in the middle of the cave, lay her twin sister, Queen of the Underworld, Erishkigal. She had the head of a fierce lion, and was ripe with child. Erishkigal was screaming in agony as she was in the throes of labor, yet no birth would take place.  Only the continuous pain of birthing.  When Erishkigal saw her sister of the heavens, she fixed on Inanna the eye of death, and Inanna was immediately turned into a rotting corpse, of which Erishkigal hung on a big, rusty hook that jutted out of the stony, wet walls.

            Inanna had friends up above who worried about her.  One God scraped the dirt from under his fingernails and created two beings to go find Inanna.  She hung there rotting for three days before the little dirt beings found her.  They immediately approached Erishkigal, still crying in pain, and began to ask her what hurt.

     “My sides! My sides! How they ache and pull!” she answered.
     “Your sides! Your sides! How they ache and pull!” they repeated.
     “My heart burns and bleeds!”
     “Your heart burns and bleeds!”
     “My belly! How it turns and heaves!”
     “Your belly! How it turns and heaves!”

For every pain that Erishkigal voiced, the dirt beings acknowledged and repeated back to her.  Every time they did this, the pains would subside.  Erishkigal stood up, feeling good for the first time in a long time.  She was so grateful that she granted them any wish.  They wished for the release of Inanna, and she agreed.  

Inanna arose from the dead, feeling not only her own power but her sister's.  She was no longer only the queen of heaven, but also of the dark and deep.  She was whole. 
            We are all multifaceted and duplicitous in nature.  There are the parts of ourselves that we keep in the light, show off to others.  Then there are those parts that we keep locked away in dark dungeons, so far down deep in our subconscious that we, ourselves do not remember that they exist.  We ignore them or try to battle them, slaying them over and over yet they never die.  Eventually their cries are impossible to ignore, and they can even raise their terrifying heads into the light, to our own horror and the horror of the people who are close to us.

These monsters are parts of us, and need nurturing too. 

My Erishkigal is terrifying.  Hateful, Grotesque; an Ogress crying toxic tears.  She is rage compounded by many lives.  She is wounded and bleeding from betrayal.  She is bitter from disappointment.  She loathes the people who hurt us, even if I’ve forgiven them.  She wants vengeance, violence, to beat them into bloody pulps.  “They need to be sorry!” she screams in my head and scorches my heart.  She would swallow the world whole, for her appetite is insatiable.  When she is particularly unhappy, her rage turns inward, “You aren’t good enough!” she screams, “You can’t do anything right, you fat, lazy, stupid bitch! No one could ever love the likes of you!”

This dark moon that approaches lunar Samhain, is the time that I dig for those oversized, rusty keys and unlock her cage.  I do this when I’m alone, because I would never want to unleash her on my family.  When she screams in pain I acknowledge why we are hurting.  I thank her for taking on the wounds that don’t heal and I wipe the blood from her brow.  For a moment I hold her and tell her that I love her.  In all of her grotesqueness I love her.  Then I set her free.  She is rude and eats everything in the house.  She watches horror movies and bondage porn and gets off on the blood, humiliation and submission.  She curses the world and fantasizes about destroying it.  Eventually, she gets tired and falls asleep.  Before she leaves, she whispers something in my ear.  She is satiated, for the time being, and her screams no longer keep me up till the wee hours.  I feel stronger, peaceful and powerful.

The wild woman is the one who dares, who creates, and who destroys...Anyone close to a woman is in fact in the presence of two women; an outer being and an interior criatura, one who lives in the topside world, one who lives in the world not so easily seeable.  The outer being lives by the light of day and is easily observed.  She is often pragmatic, acculturated, and very human.  The critatura however, often travels to the surface from far away, often appearing and then as quickly disappearing, yet always leaving behind a feeling: something surprising, original, and knowing. ” ~Clarissa Pinkola Estes, WOMEN WHO RUN WITH THE WOLVES