Original Ereshkigal, Dark Goddess of the Underworld Shadow Self Integration
This is one of my personal top favorite pieces we have ever offered. This beautiful, very old ring has the most stunning, absolutely gorgeous patina I have ever seen. Dating to the 1770’s, at about 250 years old, this ring is well travelled and beautifully, naturally time worn from decades upon centuries of daily wear and use. I honestly do not know what metal(s) this is made of, it is most likely a mixture, that may have been plated at one point. Its not often one finds such an exquisite example of natural patina. This truly is a stunning piece, which, is far more attractive than it would be without the hands of time slowly transforming its aesthetic, one oxygen molecule at a time.
In Ancient Sumer, which had advanced systems of government, jurisprudence and trade, women were extremely powerful, serving as Queens and Priestesses. Later patriarchal influences led to gross misrepresentations and deliberate false interpretations to female roles within the epics, which eventually became the norm.
One such Female whose lore has been subjected to such patriarchal revisions, yet whose essence has reached across the realms to stand the test of time like her powerful spiritual sisters Lilith, Hecate, and Isis, is Queen of the Great Below, Ereshkigal, who has been worshiped for 5,000 years.
As Goddess of the Underworld (or, Kur, Irkalla or Attalu), the reach of her Power surpasses far beyond its Seven Gates. While she is confined to the Realm of the Dead, her Power is felt in all Realms, and gives her Knowledge of all things.
“After Ki, Mother Earth and Queen, was separated by Enlil, Lord Air, Master of Winds, their firstborn, from An, Skyfather and King, and the primal Unity of Heaven and Earth was forever lost, in the Heights Above, An wept for Ki, longing for her embrace and kiss. His heartfelt tears met Nammu the Sea. She reached out for the Sky Lord, and Mother and grieving son made for the first time sweet Love. From the mingling of their bodies a Boy and a Girl, Divine Twins were born. Enki and Ereshkigal, they were called.
As time went by, Ereshkigal and Enki grew with the blessings of Creation’s dawn. Curious and sometimes wise beyond their years, brother and sister played especially in the Watery Deep of Nammu the Sea. Enki would float here and there, whereas Ereshkigal swam and dived everywhere.
'Ereshkigal, I can't see you! Come back to the surface, will you? Why do you have to hide within the waters when there is so much to see and do without?’ asked Enki with a sigh.
'A rhetoric question, young brother, without doubt', countered Enlil amusedly from the shore, where he kept watch over the Duke, the Holy Mound of Creation, and Mother Ki, his eyes gleaming with fond laughter. 'Just let Ereshkigal be for a while. At least I could do without her whys and wherefores for a minute or so!'
'I heard you, Big Brother!' replied Ereshkigal. She came out to the surface riding a wave, and immediately put all her efforts together to raise a mighty wall of splashing water towards the rock where Enlil watched over the Earth and Enki's floating body. Both Enlil and Enki ran for cover. They were going to succeed and escape Ereshkigal’s watery rage... perhaps this time?
"Not as yet", thought Ereshkigal with a satisfied grin, dripping with water and as fresh as the purest springs of Mother Urash. She sat by Enlil’s and Enki’s feet.
'So I ask too many questions, brothers of mine? Of course I do! I want to Know and to Know I must ask first! At least this is what I feel it should be!’ Ereshkigal ignored the resigned amusement of Enlil and Enki and proceeded with confidence: ‘ There is a whole world within the Sea and I suspect in everything there is. Moreover, there must be things beyond and below I feel I should know, and I will, one day. While you, Enlil, devise the Plans of Creation, and you, Enki, busy yourself with forms and shapes these plans may take without, I am concerned with the power within that binds these plans and images together in combinations of all sorts. I don’t know how to explain it, but I simply feel there is a refulgence within, there is a Pattern that binds words and shapes together, beings and things, and it is this pattern I want to know. I will know. I just need to find out how.‘
A fleeting shadow crossed Enlil’s smiling face.
‘I wish I saw things your way, Ereshkigal, just to understand and explain the unexplained. Take Kur, for example, and our dark little brothers and sisters who followed him to the land’s end. It is true Kur and the others looked different from us. But why did they leave the safety of the Duku, the mound of creation, why did they go beyond the Waters of Mother Nammu.'
‘You are worrying about Kur and the Dark Guardians again, Enlil. Why don’t you take them and Kur for what they are? Whatever and wherever they are?’ asked Ereshkigal.
‘Had you laid your eyes on Kur, you’d understand my concern. He and the others are different from us, from our younger sisters and brothers. '
But why should we all be the same, Older Brother? Indeed, I believe we are all very, very different. In Form and Essence, despite some Resemblance in Appearance. I may be very wrong, Enlil, but I feel that if you keep fixing your eyes on but one thing, you’ll miss out what could be the other side of the same thing. Or person and being,' remarked thoughtfully Ereshkigal.
'Wise words, little sister! The point is that I take my Guardianship over the Earth too serious', agreed Enlil. 'But there is something odd I cannot understand about Kur. And I for sure wouldn’t like to visit the place where he chose to dwell either, at the entrance of the Underworld’, countered Enlil.
‘I am sort of curious about these unknowable things. And I don’t fear what I don’t know. Even this Kur you don’t understand, Enlil. Indeed, I am curious about Kur,’ replied Ereshkigal. ‘And where is this Underworld, by the way?’
‘None have gone there yet', answered Enki. 'It is beyond the edge of this world. Mother Nammu says that it spreads itself as deep below as the heights of Father An stretch above.’
'This sounds really interesting! A whole new realm nobody has been to or knows so much about!’ exclaimed Ereshkigal.
‘O, sister, sometimes I wish you showed more respect for what you don’t know. Just for safety’s sake’, supplied Enki.
‘I am careful. And Inquisitive and Curious.’ In her mind, Ereshkigal added silently "even about this mysterious Kur and the Underworld."
And so it was that Ereshkigal, the daughter of Nammu the Sea, born of the bittersweet loss that the Skyfather felt for Ki, twin Sister of Enki, grew with the Desire to Know the Unknown and Reveal Patterns Unseen. Everyday she would play with Enki, her Companion and Best of Friends, and pester Enlil with countless questions. Everyday Ereshkigal would dive into the deep waters of the Mother and swim longer distances to resurface energized, with more and more questions in her mind and a deeper resolve forming inside.
One day, Ereshkigal chose not to return to the Middleworld. This was the day she had found Kur (or he had found her perhaps?), and the little dark half brothers and sisters of theirs. They looked ugly and threatening, scattered over the edge of the world, at the entrance of the Underworld. They seemed to be lonely too, for all kept to their spaces, alone and isolated, but looking pretty menacing.
"So much pain and loneliness, such rage and hunger for what they know not what. Such desire to belong, but they know not where or how", she thought, but didn’t say a word.
Faithful to herself, Ereshkigal didn’t flinch at Kur’s features or at the misshapen faces of the dark little ones. Yes, he did not look like any of the other Anunnaki Ereshkigal knew very well, but this didn’t make him threatening to her. Kur was... different. Indeed, with his huge scaly body and wings, Primeval Snake and Dragon, Ereshkigal felt he was like the raw power of Mother Ninhursag-Ki. A Beast, but she knew there was beauty within him... or it? Still, Ereshkigal l felt no fear for the Unknown and a longing embrace it and make her it own.
‘I am not afraid of you. Of any of you’ she said out loud, and she meant it. ‘ You are my half brother, Kur, and so are the dark little ones. And somehow I feel there is beauty within you all, even if you and others don’t have eyes to see. But I have. Dive into your Essence, brother, search for the seed that brought you, me and all into being. I also came from that seed. There you will find what unite us, what make us One of a Kind with the One who is All Kinds.’
Thus she dived into the immensity of Kur’s anguish and loss, for she accepted Kur for what he was, ugliness, pain, rage and loneliness to find out his all whys.
‘I vowed to challenge and fight to the very end all who dared to fare to the world’s end’, said Kur.
‘And I take up the Challenge’, answered Ereshkigal. ‘But I’ve traveled long and far to come to you. You are a Challenge to me. I need to understand you. And myself along the process.’
"Why are you doing this?"
Ereshkigal heard the question in her mind, as she held Kur closer and closer to her own self.
'I myself don’t know very well why, but I simply need to. Perhaps to grow in Understanding of who I am, of who and what you and your own are. To learn and Share, out of a Desire for Love and Healing that comes from the bottom of my heart, mind, body and Soul. And may this way, when I am wise about these things, may I perhaps earn my crown in a brand new Realm‘, she replied loud and clear.
Kur’s features must have shown the equivalent to a smile, for his voice sounded also light-hearted and interested.
‘You are strange, half sister. I won’t fight you... as yet. Tell me about this new realm where you want to conquer your crown’, said Kur, his curiosity stirred.
‘How... I still must find out. Where...’
Ereshkigal turned round pointed at the distance, where the Unknown lied yet unexplored.
‘There,’ she said, ’the Unknown, the Underworld, the Depths Within, where Appearances don’t count, just Essence. Perhaps I’ll go further by going deeper. Who knows?’
Kur came closer and closer still. Ereshkigal kept her ground, just waiting. So although he might think he was seizing her, indeed it was she who had captured him. To stretch his and her boundaries of being. Heart pounding, but keeping very still outwards, Ereshkigal felt her awareness grow as she experienced the wounds Kur had inside, his desire to belong anywhere, to fit in. Suddenly, she also realized how different she had always felt. Even from Enki and Enlil, whom she loved with all her heart, mind and soul, but who could never dive into the depths she longed to thread upon.
Ereshkigal sighed deeply, and glanced into the distance for a brief moment, in the direction where Enlil and Enki sure were. Maybe her Quest was another. She turned to Kur.
' What I will be from now on, I must discover’, was her cryptic reply to Kur’s unspoken question, but she knew he understood what she still was unable to say out loud.
‘It may be a long task,’ Kur replied.
‘Perhaps if I let each day bring what it has to offer, and see what I can do with what it brings, I will be able to accomplish something different. To learn something different and grow likewise. Will you do this with me?’
Thoughtfully, but with an engaging smile, Ereshkigal stretched her hand to hold Kur’s scaly paw. Together, they crossed the threshold to the Underworld.
Ereshkigal had always felt the pull to feel and experience the Unknown. Now she chose to go where no one had gone before, to stay in the uncharted realms of the Great Below, to fill up its Emptiness with her Being. Her voice then resonated loud and clear in all worlds of Creation, Heights Above, Middleworld, over the edge of the Earth and, for the first time, echoed in the Depths Below: ‘I claim the Realm of the Depths, the Underworld as my domain.’
She had found her life’s Quest. Not looking back, Ereshkigal crossed the threshold to the Below, never to come back.” - Ereshkigal's Choice, by Lishtar
As the Goddess of Boundaries, who upholds the Laws of Heaven and Earth which she has set for herself and the world, she cannot give tolerance for disrespect, illusions, or deceit, and she does possess the unconditional love of the divine.
Ereshkigal is the true essence of a Dark Goddess – the dark, the unseen, the shadow self; what Jung described as the undesirable parts of our consciousness – the things we deem as evil, inferior, or unacceptable, the emotions, desires, and understandings we deny in ourselves, which become part of our shadow.
This is a role Ereshkigal accepts. It is a role none other dared even ponder as she did, let alone enter and claim domain. Her work is to integrate the unconscious shadow mind with the consciousness light mind, in both mortals and deities alike.
She understands that only through this assimilation can a soul be whole and complete.
She actively sought out that which she did not know, that which she had not seen, that which she had not felt, she sought out the “different “, the “ugly" and the Unknown.
The daughter of Nammu (Goddess of the primordial sea), and Anu (God of the sky), she has a twin brother, Enki, who is the Lord of Magick and God of the Watery Deep, and a sister, Inanna, Goddess of Love, Light, and Sex.
Her first husband, Gugalanna (the Bull of Heaven) was slaughtered by Gilgamesh due to the actions of her younger sister, Inanna (also known as Ishtar), who, in most Ancient texts, often thinks only of herself and her own desires, often at the expense of others. In The Epic of Gilgamesh, Gilgamesh denies her sexual advances, so, Inanna sends Gugalanna to destroy Gilgamesh's realm. After hundreds of people are killed in the rampage, Gugalanna is killed by Enkidu, the friend and comrade-in-arms of Gilgamesh. Enkidu is condemned by the gods for killing a deity and sentenced to die. Gugalanna's death provides the background and pretext for one of the most famous Ereshkigal myths, “The Descent of Inanna”.
Within this myth, Inanna, chooses, in her pride and Queenly status, to descend to the Underworld, the place of no return, wearing all her finest garments and jewels, as representations for her Power, even though she knows there are clear boundaries for man and Deity alike. Her intentions as to why she descends to the Underworld are thought to be to offer condolences to Ereshkigal….even though her husband's death was the fault of Inanna's actions.
Ereshkigal escorts Inanna into true darkness and vulnerability, where, at each of the seven gates, she must remove one of her precious adornments, rendering her powerless once she passes through the final gate.
The Annunaki, the judges of the underworld, surrounded herThey passed judgment against her.Then Ereshkigal fastened on Inanna the eye of deathShe spoke against her the word of wrathShe uttered against her the cry of guiltShe struck her.Inanna was turned into a corpseA piece of rotting meatAnd was hung from a hook on the wall
Ereshkigal kills her then hangs her body for 3 days – not out of hatred or wickedness, but so that both may expand their conscious Awareness.
Ereshkigal goes through birth/death pains, lamenting and mourning the death of all she thought she knew, giving birth to their new, fully conscious selves. The role Ereshkigal had to take for this to happen was inexplicably difficult and painful, and it is this great responsibility which made Ereshkigal’s heart moan, but it had to be done; stripping away all that was needed to put her through darkness and pain so that she may grow and become more than what she was. And she did.
After 3 days, two sexless beings are sent to revive and retrieve Inanna thanks to Innana's clever planning. They offer sympathy for Ereshkigal, and for this, says they can have whatever they want.
Under the agreement with Ereshkigal that someone replace her, Inanna is given the Food and Water of Life and returns to Heaven, only to find her lover Dumuzi has not only failed to mourn her, but rather, has taken it upon himself to celebrate, perched upon her own divine throne!
Having become whole, she takes this much differently now. His blatant lack of respect, this degradation of her boundaries is unacceptable. Inanna looks upon him with the “eye of death” and thus sentences Dumuzi to be her replacement in the Great Below.
Ereshkigal is often portrayed as a demonesque, cruel, and heartless antagonist in most interpretations of this over the past 2,000 years, as though she is a jealous, impulsive sister who kills Inanna in a fit of rage. The Spiritual purposes are typically absent from the narrative completely.
However, this is because the shadow self can be an uncomfortable subject – there is far more to her character than what one may initially perceive. This is, actually, a prime example of the Power, Fortitude, and Wisdom of Ereshkigal. This is the integration of shadow and light; the true self and the shadow self are confronted, birthing Greatness.
This piece is your direct connection to Ereshkigal. With this piece, her Power and Wisdom of Integration will guide you to becoming the truest version of your own self. The Goddess of the Underworld can be influenced when you can offer an exchange. If you wish to make sure your time in the Underworld is not too bad, you might consider honoring the Goddess Ereshkigal while you can. You can honor her by offering her your Respect, and Trust, and offering your true, raw Self, unmasked of facades.
She is a Goddess of Reflection, seeing yourself for who you truly are.
Ereshkigal is a Goddess who wants your openness and willingness to become your true self; to learn, to grow, to deal with your shit.
She is a Goddess who wants to help you emerge empowered and Whole.
She is a Goddess of Fortitude and Strength, who, at all costs, maintains the balance that must exist.
She is a Goddess of Boundaries, who will not allow disrespect.
She is a Companion in Grief, who shares the pangs of sorrow that are inherent to our growth.
She is the Goddess of the Descent, guiding us through the Dark and Gloom of the inevitable hardships, helping us be strengthened and empowered, transforming into more than what you were, rather than being destroyed by it.
She is a Goddess of Metamorphosis, wrapping yourself in a chrysalis of all the undesired, hidden, buried, and growing from it into something that is beautiful.
When there's a loss of a loved one, problems at work or lack thereof,
When we are pounded with the storms of financial whirlwinds that leave our head spinning with grief,
When there are problems that cannot be fixed with a positive attitude, money, smarts, or loved ones,
When there's scars hidden, cut much deeper than skin from countless other pains and sorrows of life,
When we are burdened with the weight of the overwhelming chaos of the worst of what life can bring,
She can help us not merely survive and endure these difficult passages, but she can be a companion and guide when we are thrown into the abyss of despair so that we may navigate our way through to healing and transformation.
She supports you, answers your questions, and imparts the needed lessons through your journey in the dark. Although there is suffering, sacrifice and pain we endure, it is not without a great purpose, and is necessary at times, in order for you to move to the next level of your spiritual development.
She is the knowing within.
This is a very special piece to me, one that I have personally used extensively. It came to me from a Priestess of Ereshkigal, whose descendants had to flee their home to escape persecution for their ancient and traditional beliefs. This ring is hundreds of years old, and has travelled the world. It has been through peace and war, famine and flourish; it’s obvious long and travelled life in its wear and gorgeous patina is a visible, tangible symbolic representation of all that Ereshkigal has worked through this precious piece to guide its Keepers through the battles and scars of life; creating something beautiful and new.
With this piece, you will have a direct connection to Ereshkigal. You may summon her, however, it is not necessary to, as her Powers work through this piece regardless. In my personal experience and opinion, I find it best to summon her when you have libations and offerings for her, or, if you are in a really difficult situation and need help working through it. I would not call upon her for silly or frivolous matters.
She is the one who helps us hold the line when things get really tough, when we need help standing up for ourselves, when we need change, and strength.
Ereshkigal is always ready to help us release that which no longer serves us. She will encourage righteous anger when your rights are violated, or when others want to take advantage of you, or ask for more than you can, or wish, to give.
Ereshkigal can guide you through an intense form of Spiritual cleansing, what is known as Voluntary Descent. She walks with us to leave the people we’ve been behind, so that we can emerge anew, releasing all that has been severed into the Great Below to be transformed. This is undertaken when a radical change is needed – when we need to strip away those things and people which bind us to the past, cutting through illusion and denial with “a surgeon’s compassion and precision, cutting away that which must be removed, shedding blood of necessity and not flinching from her difficult, painful task. She has the compassion of the knife, her edge honed to cut cleanly when she strikes. Hers is the bitter healing, not the sweet.” – Clare Vaughn
Hail to you Ereshkigal,
Great Queen of those below,
Mistress of the shadows, lady of bones and dust,
Frightening one of the far places where men fear to go,
Strong one who builds the boundaries and knows how to tear them down.
Ereshkigal, your magic is powerful,
and all the demons tremble in your presence,
doing all that you command.
Ereshkigal, you know the broken heart,
and the painful way to mend it.
Ereshkigal, you tear the layers from us,
hateful but necessary work,
as your whip brings purification through our tears.
Hail to you, terrible and revered goddess,
known from Sousa to Alexandria.
Queen of the Great Below, An Anthology in Honor of Ereshkigal. Compiled by Janet Munin.