Inanna’s Trip as Archetypal Confrontation with the Shadow Notes by Dr. Honora M. Finkelstein One way of looking at Inanna’s trip to the underworld is an expression of the psychological need to encounter the Shadow self or mirror image and somehow to incorporate that self, which the sister Ereshkigal may represent. According to Jung (cited above), this encounter with the Shadow side is essential for personal integration and wholeness. The Shadow is the part of the greater Self that the individual represses and doesn’t want to acknowledge. But if one is truly to accept one’s full power, one needs to assimilate that aspect of personality. When Ereshkigal strikes her, Inanna dies and is hung on the wall like a piece of rotting meat. After her death, Inanna is in the underworld for three days and three nights (as was Jesus supposed to have been later, after his crucifixion, and as other dying and rising “vegetation” gods of ancient mythology were also supposed to have done). However, she has prepared her servant Ninshubur to go to the father gods for help should she not return. Ninshubur goes to the gods of the sun and moon, but they can’t help because they have no power in the underworld. But when she goes to father Enki, god of wisdom and of the water (supposedly associated in ancient Sumer with semen; associated in modern psychology with the subconscious and with emotion), he does help.  He makes two little creatures out of the dirt from under his fingernails and gives them the food and water of life to give to Inanna.  Then he instructs them to go to Ereshkigal, who is in mourning, and to repeat back to her whatever she says.  What is astonishing here is that the best way for someone in modern therapy to know s/he is being heard by a therapist is for the therapist to repeat back what the patient says; it is virtually the only kind of therapy recommended by psychologist Carl Rogers. Ereshkigal is pleased and offers them a gift.  They ask for Inanna’s corpse, and they resuscitate her with the food and water of life. So two healings have taken place in this confrontation with the Shadow—Inanna is ultimately reborn, and Ereshkigal’s mourning is heard and affirmed. Both are healed and made more whole than they were before. The confrontation with the Shadow was necessary; without it, the healing would never have happened. Made with Xara Website by Susan Smily