The oldest recorded example of the archetype of the death goddess is Ereshkigal of Sumeria. Ereshkigal was once an upper world goddess, but she was repeatedly raped by Enlil, a God. The Gods punished Enlil by sending him to the underworld, but out of love she followed him. Ereshkigal is the darkness of Inanna. When her fundamental nature is not respected, Ereshkigal is the result. Ereshkigal’s name means “lady of the great place below”. She was a grain Goddesss before she came to be queen of the netherworld. She is the seed below and dying to sprout again. To a matriarchal point of view she is the continuum in which different states are simply experienced as transformations of one energy. To a patriarchal view she is a rape of life, a violence to be feared and controlled as much as possible with distancing oneself from it and a strict moral order. She is pictured as having life freezing eyes. She is very primal, full of fury, greed, fear of loss and even self-spite. She is raw instinctually split off from consciousness, the need and aggression that exist in our own personal underworld that is often denied out of social mores.
Ereshkigal is active destruction but she is also the slow cell by cell processes of decay and gestation, that are invasive and depending on the case against a person’s will. She is pitiless and destructive of the individual. She is the hopeless, empty, shattering, numb, barren void and chaos. Her energy can be seen in black holes, infinite gravity and magnetism that even light cannot escape from. Her energy is the energy of X-rays, which see through all to the very core and are also emitted by black holes. Her energy is the disintegration of elements, radioactive decay, cancer, fermentation. She rules the functions of the base chakra, the earth chakra, peristalsis, menstruation, pregnancy. She without remorse grinds down life to its constituent parts, yet heaves forth new life. The abyss of Ereshkigal is both the source and the end, the ground of all being. She is the natural order of things, attended by her vizier “Fate”.
The Dancing Begins
Several dark moons ago, I traveled to the realms of shadows and pain. The darkness where her forbidden and naked rawness lays. I met Ereshkigal, the Great Judge, Goddess of Death, Queen of the Underworld. I saw her push the boundaries of those around me. I witnessed them shed their very souls. Tears. Blood. Black holes. Emptiness. Her words were whispers and yet they pierced into the very core of me. She was devouring someone else, yet her piercing eyes were upon me. She smiled enigmatically. Feeling more than a little bit overwhelmed, I prepared myself for what was surely to come . . . my turn to dance.
A circle thrice and the heat of her breath was upon me. She was gentle with me. I was a bubbling vulcano preparing to erupt, yet the words would not come. Tears. There were only tears. She caressed me with an embrace of fire that burned through my core. Her words were soft yet they echoed in my loins. I swayed in the night’s air in a ballroom of blackness to the sounds of her song. My spoken words had finally come and relieved me of the pain I carried in the pit of my being.
Ereshkigal will never go away. Her lessons are harsh, but she is to be honored, not banned.
The pain that poured out of me that dark moon night, released a terrible weight. I’ll return to different versions of them forever. But I’m at a different place with them, one that allows me more comfort. And just as there are sacrifices, there are rewards.
The gates are now open. More will come.