Self-love in a woman is so radical it is akin to war. This is Inanna’s lesson.
The Queen of Heaven came to me painted in blood and exhaling ash; with every lightning crack the skull showed beneath Her proud face. She walked up out of the underworld carrying knowledge of life and death in Her curving flesh, and all the armies of man cowered before Her like dumb beasts before a lioness. I cowered too, for I was afraid of what She would demand of me. She is no gentle Aphrodite, no sweet-eyed Venus. She is Inanna, who dances on the battlefield, who strikes down mountains and laughs in Death’s face.
But, Stand daughter, She commanded and I obeyed. When I looked upon Her again, She was not half so terrifying. She wore red silk, not blood, and smelled of roses and myrrh. She was lovely as the dawn and dusk, and all the stars in the sky. Every gem has many facets, She said, and I will teach you to love all of yours. That is what it means to own yourself. That is what it means to fight back.
I begin to understand now. I ignored Inanna’s softer aspects, scornful of the vulnerability of femininity, and focused only on blood lust as Her mode of defiance. But men fear anyone with more power than theirs, and they gain power by making us hate ourselves. In this world, to be a goddess of love is as revolutionary as a goddess of war. Inanna does not rebel against patriarchal oppression with sword alone – She rebels by loving Herself, by taking ownership of Her body and treating it like the sacred vessel it is. Inanna shows us that all we need do to break our chains is embrace ourselves. Self-love is the shield with which we may protect ourselves as we walk onto the battlefield.
I do not know how to love myself. I do not know how to love this body. But if anyone can show me how, it is She who walked naked into the underworld, dressed only in Her self-love, and back out in triumph.