Inanna, Queen of Heaven, is the Sumerian Great Goddess, perhaps the oldest deity for whom we still have an intact mythos. She descended to the underworld to visit her sister, Erishkegal. At each of the seven gates of the underworld, Inanna had to surrender one of the emblems of her earthly power -- her crown, her pectoral, even her gown. She entered the underworld naked.
This summer and fall, I supported a friend whose sister-in-law was dying of cancer. During her dying, this woman had to surrender all of her earthly power: her job, her possessions, her mobility, control of her bladder, her body, her brain, her lover, her friends. I saw then that Inanna's journey is one that we all face: we all must surrender our earthly ties when we leave the circle of this life.
Inanna is resurrected with the water of life, something that doesn't fit into the idea of the myth as metaphor for death. This week, I've realized that mourning moves by the same process of surrender. When we lose someone we love, we need to surrender every earthly tie to that person. Anything that we hold onto creates suffering. Only when we surrender the last tie (and water our grief with our living tears), can we emerge from mourning. As we emerge from mourning, our loved one is also released from our grief and we can remember her with love and joy.
12 April 1999