Returning From Eleusis

I’m home. And yet I feel like I am in a strange place.

Eleusis, spring mysteries, spring mysteries festival, journey to Eleusis

It’s always difficult returning from extended magical space – whether it is a festival or a course or just time with loved ones – and moving back into the mundane day to day life. Returning from Eleusis is no different.

I was in a world outside of time and space, a world apart from the concerns of daily life. It wasn’t that time didn’t exist – there was definitely a sense of treasuring and honoring the moments that I had with the family that was not of my blood, serving my community in such a unique and special way.

I’ve been home nearly a week. I’m back at work, and done (most of) the laundry. Not everything is put away yet – there are still a few bits to get put back in their homes. I’ve even had an opportunity to rest. I was forced to rest, really. My body decided it was going to get sick and make me take a day to do nothing.

The most challenging part of coming back is reflecting on the lessons and integrating what I’ve learned. Once out of the magical space, it starts to fade, like waking from a dream.

One thing that doesn’t fade is the connection that I worked so hard to establish with the Goddesses I worked with in the months leading up to Spring Mysteries – Hekate and Ereshkigal.

These two work very well together. I even learned that in the Greek Magical Papyri, they were event conflated as Hekate-Ereshkigal. Many people are afraid of the Dark Mother and the Underworld. And I’ll admit, if you are not ready to meet Her, or your own Shadow, She can be frightening. She is not soft and gentle, though She is beautiful. Terrifyingly beautiful.

Hekate, and Ereshkigal, will hold you accountable. She will kick your butt to keep you going. She pushes you to grow. And I love Her for that. She pushed me a lot. She is STILL pushing me to be more, be better, keep growing, and keep serving.

If you’d like to meet these Dark Mothers, you can go for A Walk with Hekate, or A Walk with Inanna (to see Ereshkigal). Are you ready for the lessons She has for you?



I Give Up!

I’ve created a schedule for myself that is very demanding, which means it is also exhausting. I’ve been feeling guilty about many things that I haven’t been doing, including writing a blog post in several weeks.

The lessons of the Dark Mother have been on my mind as well (probably has something to do with working with Hekate and Ereshkigal). The main thing I’ve been hearing is “surrender”. It’s a theme I have cycled through before (a couple of times!).

In looking at The Power Path Monthly Forecast for March, I had a giggle: the theme of the month is SURRENDER!



Learning More about Ereshkigal

It’s been a very busy week. I’ve pretty much completed my costume for Ereshkigal for Hekate’s Sickle Festival. In my spare moments, I’ve been reading up on Sumerian history and mythology, as well as Greek history and mythology because I start teaching the Intro to Greek Mythology course at the Wiccan Seminary this week.

Hekate's Sickle Festival featuring Ereshkigal(Quick plug – you can still register for Hekate’s Sickle Festival, either for the whole weekend, or for one of the days. Click here and use code HSF09 to receive 10% off. You can also enroll for classes at the Seminary by clicking here.)

I’ve been reading a very interesting web comic about Sumerian myths called the Dingir Comic, Adventure of the Gods. It really confirms my thoughts that Greek myth and deities are definitely related to Sumerian.

Sumer, in Mesopotamia between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, is the cradle of civilization. It is where people shifted from being hunter-gatherer nomads to farmers and craftsman. It is where the first written language developed. And so the Gods of Sumer are the first ones we have stories about.

Ereshkigal’s story is very similar to Persephone’s story. Or more accurately, Persephone’s story is very similar to Ereshkigal’s.

Ereshkigal was a beautiful young Goddess. Some say she was the child of Enlil and Ninlil (and therefore an aunt to Inanna), while others say she was a child of Ningal and Nanna (which would make her Inanna’s elder sister).

She was kidnapped by the dragon Kur and taken to the Netherworld. Like most underworld locations, once you go there you can never return. Enki, the god of wisdom was able to travel there and help defeat Kur. Enki then turned Kur into a throne for Ereshkigal.

Rather than being depressed about being banished from her early home in the heavens, Ereshkigal asserted her will over the Great Below and made it into her own kingdom. She was the only one who could make and enforce the laws of Irkalla, the land of the dead.

Eventually, it did get lonely. She could send her minister up to gatherings in heaven, but she could not go herself. Once, Nergal, the god of pestilence and war, disrespected her minister. As punishment, he had to go and spend several days in the Great Below and make his apologies. Though he was advised not to enjoy Ereshkigal’s hospitality, they ended up having a passionate love affair. Nergal left before his stay was supposed to be up, and ended up coming back out of love.

Many people find Ereshkigal to be frightening, and as a Goddess who is in complete control of herself and her realm I can see how that could be intimidating.

“The ways of the underworld are not your ways. The ways of the underworld are perfect and not to be questioned.”

Ereshkigal challenges us to be more fully who we are, including facing the parts that are below the surface, in the shadows, and that is not generally an easy or pleasant task. And yet examining and accepting those parts of us can help us grow. Seeing more depth in Ereshkigal’s archetype has certainly helped me to relate to her better.



Back to Ereshkigal

It’s been a crazy week for me – dealing with jet lag and airline crud and having a pretty full schedule that didn’t allow for much down time.

I’ve said before that when I am sick and/or overtired, the first things to fall out of my routine are the things that are healthy. This week, I have noticed that my meditation practice has been suffering. There has been a lot more sleeping than meditating. And I’m mostly ok with that. I needed the sleep.

Now, though, as I am recovering, I definitely feel the need to recharge my meditation practice. I’ve been missing the connection time with my higher self and with Deity. That connection with Deity is really important right now as I prepare for Hekate’s Sickle Festival next month because I’ll be holding the energy of Ereshkigal.

Ereshkigal with InannaI’ve had a connection with Inanna for a very long time. As I’ve worked with different Greek goddesses over the past few years for Spring Mysteries Festival, I’ve been able to increase my connection with each of them by relating them to aspects of Inanna. I see the progression from one region of the Middle East through to the Mediterranean – the names of the goddesses may change, though their aspects and many of their myths stay remarkably similar.

Most of what I know of Ereshkigal is through the myth of the Descent of Inanna. Ereshkigal is often referred to as Inanna’s dark sister. To work with Her more closely, though, I need to develop a connection with Ereshkigal directly, and not through Inanna.

To do that, I’m going back to the source – Sumerian Mythology. Sumer was the cradle of civilization. It’s mythology, culture, and society had a large influence on the generations that followed. Even after the Akkadians (Babylonians) had conquered Sumer and it’s kings ruled no more, the Sumerian written language – cuneiform – was used for legal and religious texts.

I’m reading the works of Samuel Noah Kramer, who was one of the foremost experts in Sumerian history and language. I’m thoroughly enjoying learning about the cosmology of this ancient people who developed one of the first systems of writing. And as I am reading the stories, and fragments of stories, I’m starting to get a better picture of the world that Inanna fit into and the other deities that She interacted with.

And more importantly for this moment, I’m getting a fuller image of Ereshkigal. She’s not just the goddess of the dead and a hard task master. She’s had her loves and losses too. She can be scary, yes. And she’s so much more. I’m looking forward to deepening my relationship with the Queen of the Great Below.



Visiting Ereshkigal

I know, you’re probably wondering who or what exactly is Ereshkigal, unless you’re up on your Sumerian Mythology. 🙂

Ereshkigal is the Queen of the Underworld, who the goddess Inanna goes to visit in her most well known saga, the Descent of Inanna. Inanna decides she wants to visit Ereshkigal, to go where no human or god has ever returned from.  Inanna must lay down all of her adornments that identify her as the Queen of Heaven and Earth to enter the Underworld.

Once there, Ereshkigal hangs her on a peg, where she withers and dies. Inanna witnesses Ereshkigal’s misery and pain as she labors to give birth.

EreshkigalAfter three days, two tiny creatures arrive to rescue Inanna.  They moan and groan and sympathize with Ereshkigal, who is shocked – no one has done this before.  In gratitude, she offers them a gift.  They choose Inanna’s corpse, and bring her back to life.

There is more to the story, but this is where I was this last week: moaning and groaning and crying out in misery. Several events had combined to pull me off my normally positive center.  I felt stuck, trapped, and I couldn’t see a way out.  Well, that’s not entirely true.  I just couldn’t bring myself to take the one action I knew would bring change because I don’t know for sure if it will bring a positive change.

For three days I quivered and cried, and wanted to shut myself away from society. My despair was so deep it even pulled my husband and children in briefly.

And then I remembered the lesson from the myth that has been speaking so loudly to me the past several months.  I sympathized with Ereshkigal.  I felt her pain to my very core. And I allowed myself to just be there. I scheduled some time off from work, and nurtured myself.  I took the time to actually figure out what had sent me to the Underworld, and began taking steps to clear up some incompletions.

I still have some more work to do, and I can feel that Underworld energy running below the surface. Just like Inanna needs Ereshkigal to be complete, I need my shadow to be complete. I am on my way back out, and I am starting to feel a lot better. I will keep investigating the mysteries of Ereshkigal and Inanna, because I know there is much more there for me to discover. And I know this is a cycle that will come around again.



PS. This quote helped me as well.  I have no idea who said it.

Depression is not a sign of weakness, it is a sign that you have been trying to be strong for too long.