Inanna and Ego Death Notes by Dr. Honora M. Finkelstein Of particular importance is Inanna’s trip to the underworld, allegedly for the burial of the Bull of Heaven, husband of her sister Ereshkigal, Queen of the Underworld. The descent is similar to the phenomenon so well attested to in modern psychological literature of the near death experience (NDE); Inanna dies but comes back to life.  According to reports from 1990 (yes, I know this isn’t very recent, but it’s the latest study I could find), over eight million adults in this country had had NDEs.  This statistic did not include reports from any other country; and it did not include teens, children, or babies who may have had NDEs in preverbal states. About three quarters of these experiencers had positive, Heaven-like experiences; about a quarter of them had negative or Hell-like experiences. (Examples of the positive and negative NDE are presented well in the movie Ghost.  Examples of the negative NDE are presented in the movie Flatliners.)  But in the vast majority of cases, whether the experiencer has a positive or a negative experience, the result is generally the same:  the person comes back with changed attitudes.  The positive experiencer has generally lost all fear of death; the negative experiencer generally mends his/her ways as a means of protecting the self from ever having to undergo that negative experience again.  (NDE researcher PMH Atwater has catalogued a variety of possible after-effects in several books.)  In any case, the result for the experiencer is what is generally referred to as “ego death”; it has the same result as the classic experience of going into the desert or on a vision quest for a period of time; the person comes back changed, with a new mission, and often with a new name.  But any experience that has a profound effect of change on the individual could be considered “an ego death”; we’ll see this phenomenon again in the literature we’ll be studying, because it is part of the hero’s journey and is an archetype. Inanna’s journey to the underworld therefore predates other literary ventures to the underworld, some of which we’ll study (e.g., Persephone, Orpheus and Euridyce, Aeneas, and Dante, among others) and all of which mythically represent a dying to self, in order to be reborn into another, wiser state. Made with Xara Website by Susan Smily