you are an apple, a garden
a single seed
knowledge bought dearly
by sacrificial deed
you are an apple, a garden
you are an apple, a garden
a single seed
knowledge bought dearly
by sacrificial deed
To you who are lost, I say this: follow the morning star, bright burning Venus. It will lead you to the throne of holy Inanna, Queen of Heaven, intersex goddess of women and queers. Inanna ruled over ancient Sumer more than six thousand years ago and she remains today a powerful ally for all those crushed under the bootheel of oppression. Her grand temples were once staffed by transgender clergy and during her festivals people crossdressed and danced in the streets. A goddess of decadence and bloodshed, sensuality and sovereignty, generosity and volatility, Inanna understands intimately what it means to contain multitudes. The Queen of Heaven surrendered everything to face her own death in the underworld and return transformed; she can guide you through the darkness of your own metamorphosis and into the light of rebirth. Call on Inanna and let her inspire you with her ferocious will. Let her empower you with her confidence. Let her place a sword in your hand and teach you to fight for your freedom, for your future, for the person you are destined to become. Call on exalted Inanna, lost one, and trust her to lead you to victory.
Anger is a gift, Inanna tells me. It keeps you moving when you want to give up. It keeps you fighting on the battlefield. It keeps you demanding better for yourself when everyone tells you to accept their scraps. Her rep lips peel back in a sneer to show sharp white canines. Your anger is a threat to them; that is why they try to take it from you. They trick you into feeling ashamed of it, or guilty for it. They call you selfish, arrogant, petulant. They dismiss you as a child and condemn you as a monster. I imagine the men who slandered Her priestesses as harlots, who twisted Her myths, who destroyed Her temples and named Her Whore of Babylon. Yet still Inanna persists, over five thousand years later, as powerful today as She was when She ruled an entire civilization. They will spout any lie to rob you of your righteous anger, She says, pressing one pointed nail to my chest, because they know they will fall before it like wheat before a scythe. Hold tight to your anger, child. Do not let it be taken from you, or turned back on you, or redirected to another more vulnerable. Your enemies are cowards who prefer the deceit of silver tongues to the honesty of steel swords. Believe nothing they say. Trust your anger to guide you rightly. Then She smiles, a grin full of hunger and destruction. And trust mine.
Inanna comes to me as the Whore of Babylon, naked as the dawn with golden goblet of wine in hand. In her wake she leaves a trail of red footprints from the battlefield where she danced on her enemies’ corpses, men who thought her pendulous breasts and round hips were theirs to covet. Plump ruby lips pull back from grinning white teeth as she leans down to spear and hold my meek gaze with her gleaming starlight eyes. You owe them nothing, child, she pronounces in a voice which shakes all of existence from heavens to underworld, not gender, not desire, not beauty. You don’t owe them answers or obedience, please or thank you, respectability or humility. The goddess straightens, taking a long drink from the goblet, then licks wine off her lips like a lioness cleaning blood from her fur. She fixes me with her hard stare once more and points at me with her free hand as she adds, And you sure as fuck don’t owe them silence. Go loud.
like a maiden plucking flower petals, so idly did She cast her raiment off
striding naked into the pit of the underworld, proud head held high
to welcome Her death with a queen’s grace, arms wide and eyes alight
through seven gates descend
surrendering ego to the inertness of death
and rise again a unified whole
You left me lost and disoriented
but Wepwawet guided me safely back to the path.
You left me stripped of all your gifts
but Inanna taught me to stand proud in my nakedness.
You left me barren as a desert
but Hetheru grew overflowing gardens in my parched soil.
You left me exiled in my own soul
but the Morrigan thrust a sword in my hand to win back my sovereignty.
You left me dead and cold
but Bast coaxed a roaring flame from the last tiny ember in my chest.
You left me
but kinder gods, better gods
In my dreams, Her lips
Red as ripe pomegranates
the Queen of Heaven
You whose body feels like a cage
She will break the lock and set you free!
You whom society cast out as unclean
She will embrace you skin to skin!
You who are judged for how you love
She will exalt you in her temples!
Rise up, weary one
Inanna is with you!
Rise up, grieving one
Inanna is with you!
Rise up, wrathful one
Inanna is with you!
Inanna is with you!
They broke your throne, my queen
And destroyed your holy temples!
They tore the sacred raiment from your priestesses
And cast them into the street to starve!
I weep, my queen
I weep for your loss!
I weep, my queen
I weep for our loss!
Then I hear your voice like thunder
Crying I am the Queen of Heaven!
Then I hear your voice like thunder
Crying I am the Morning and Evening Star!
The great dome of the sky is my temple
And my throne is my own sacred body!
My priestesses dye their hair with rainbows
And dance in the streets in the name of love!
I no longer weep, my queen
I sing your praises with joy!
I no longer weep, my queen
I call your name with pride!
Hail the Queen of Heaven!
Hail the Morning and Evening Star!
Bast’s love comforts
Hathor’s love energizes
Inanna’s love ignites
The Morrigan’s love challenges
They slew the goddess
Buried her temples and name
Yet still she rises
She wears rubies crimson as menstrual blood
And garnets dark as the battlefield’s gore
She is Astarte, She is Aphrodite
She is Ishtar, She is Inanna!
She licks pomegranate lips with a dawn-pink tongue
And between her thighs grows a red, red rose
She is Babylon, She is Lilith
She is Venus, She is Inanna!
they say “fake it ‘til you make it”
so here I am, a child playing dress-up
wearing my mother Bast’s smile and poise
Inanna’s confidence and Hathor’s positivity
and the Morrigan’s steel spine underneath it all
if I walk like them, talk like them
will I be strong like them?
will I be brave like them?
will I be good like them?
I will never have words enough to express my love for the divine, nor ways enough to express my gratitude and honor to live in its presence. If I repeat my praises too often, or if I reuse the same phrases because no others seem as worthy, please forgive me; I am just so often overflowing with awe that if I do not release some of it into the universe I may drown completely. Oh, the stunning beauty of Hathor! The humbling benevolence of Bast! The terror of the Morrigan, the ferocity of Inanna! Oh, to bathe my modest mortal soul in the pure glory of their divine radiance! How can I not sing their praises ceaselessly when everywhere around me I see evidence of their blessing? A word for every breath I take, every moment I live, every year, every decade, every life, still would never be enough!
Even as Eden’s gates opened to cast Eve out, on the other side stood the Goddess to welcome Eve into Her arms.
Hetheru, be my armor!
Morrigan, be my blade!
Inanna, be my strength!
Bast, be my courage!
Dua Bast, Lady of the East, Lady of Flame, Lady of Truth
Vengeful Eye of Ra, Protective Mother Cat!
Dua Het-heru, Lady of the West, Sweet Sycamore
Bearer of Joy and Bringer of Prosperity!
Dua Wepwawet, Opener of the Way
Shepherd of the Path, Unique and Adorned One!
Hail Inanna, Queen of Heaven, O Radiant Star
She Who Descended and Arose Again!
Hail to the Morrigan, Phantom Queen and Prophetess
Sovereign of the Battlefield, Carrion Crowned!
Hail to the Sun and Moon, Lords of Darkness and Decay
Lords of Light and Love, of Sacrifice and the Solstice!
Hail and thanks to all!
What did You do, O Queen of Heaven, for those three long days You hung dead on the hook? Christ probably ascended to Heaven and returned once more in his three days, and Odin must have been absorbing all the knowledge of the universe in his nine nights, so what about you? While Ninshubur wept at Your absence and Ereshkigal writhed in birthing pains, where were You? Were You in Your heavy body experiencing for the first time how mortal flesh rots and decays? Or were You, like Odin, stretching out Your consciousness to touch the vast unknown? If myth be true, death buys the most precious secrets, especially if that death be a willing one bargained for truth. You must have learned something, for there are times when I can see the white skull grinning beneath Your skin or all the darkness of the underworld condensed into Your heavy-lidded eyes. But that is the reward of walking Your road, isn’t it; what knowledge You gained in death can be revealed only if we make such a sacrifice ourselves.
The gods appear to us in the forms they choose for a reason.
Bast appears to me close at hand as if I’m a small child and She’s holding me in Her arms. She is an older woman with a face graced always by a gentle, loving smile. Freckles are scattered across her cheeks like stars and perpetual laugh lines gather at the corners of her golden eyes. She is muscled yet soft, in the way a woman who has given birth to many children is simultaneously rounded and strengthened. Her dress is of white linen, Her jewelry of gold, amethyst, and lapis lazuli. Her dark hair is woven through with beads and charms which jingle softly when She moves. She is the quintessential mother goddess with a soft breast to cry on and strong shoulders to lean on. I can feel in Her embrace the latent energy of the war goddess, and know She could change in a heartbeat if any danger came my way, yet to me She always appears in this maternal form.
Inanna appears to me veiled in red silk and firelight so I may only see Her soft belly and pendulous breasts and that sacred place between Her hips for which songs were sung. Sometimes I catch a glimpse of red hair, full lips, a proud hawk nose, but otherwise Her specific features remain uncertain. She is almost close enough to touch but always just out of reach, the way a dancer moves away from your embrace with the fluidity of water. Her face is hidden in shadow and because of this She might be any of the wild, unbound goddesses men have tried to shame for eons: Inanna, Ishtar, Lilith, Babylon the Great. She takes this form so I must face Her innate physicality; if I want to work with Her, I cannot avoid Her divine flesh.
The Morrigan appears to me only from afar as a shadowed figure backlit by heavy red skies. I cannot make out Her face but I can feel the weight of Her gaze, the immensity of Her presence. She is tall and thin as a finely honed blade, and like a blade there is a patient tension in Her form, a promise of deadly grace. She has long, dark hair, I think, and pale skin. She is not young; if I could get closer I would see lines on that gaunt face, especially at the corners of Her mouth and between Her eyebrows. Neither, though, is She frail; beneath Her dark cloak is a body spare yet strong as steel. This is all the Morrigan will let me see just now: the sovereign of the battlefield, the goddess of war and bone.
The gods appear to us in the forms they choose for a reason. What these forms show us – and do not show us – always hints at what we have to learn from them. Bastet is my mother; Inanna is my mentor; the Morrigan is my guide down a dark road.
It was all there on the table. The candlestick. The rope. The lead pipe. The wrench. The knife. The gun. He trailed his fingertips along each weapon with veneration. Clue had always been his favorite board game. He loved the idea of giving six people unique opportunities to kill one another. When he played the game as a child he often concocted complex scenarios that resulted in the deaths of all six guests. He’d been sent to Sister Reverence’s office more times than he remembered. It was always the same.
“Young man, this is becoming habitual.”
Habitual. Habit. Like that stupid thing she wears everyday. It would be so easy to grab her by it and pull. Up, up, up. A widening grin. Until she turned purple, like that bitter chalice offered every morning.
(STOP TELLING IT. YOU’RE TELLING IT WRONG.)
Rain falls hard as hail in the night; in the heavy sky above lightning flickers and thunder sends shudders vibrating through the air. The guests enter the mansion beneath an arched front doorway over which is written, “Do not die before your death”. There are six of them, not including their absent host, and each carries a golden envelope in which the mysterious invitation sits.
Tanim arrives first, of course, in a navy blue suit over which he has draped a pale blue scarf with gold tassels. He bides his time by the fireplace, whiskey in hand, staring into the bright flames until another guest arrives. There are two this time, Bast and Wepwawet, both dressed in layers of desert silks and gold adornments. Wepwawet introduces himself as Anubis; Tanim does not comment on the deception. The three trade amicable conversation until Inanna arrives, her spools of red-gold hair commanding attention as they capture the firelight. Tanim nods to her in greeting and steps to the side, continuing his conversation with Wepwawet as the goddesses greet each other. Soon they are joined by the Morrigan, her blood-red dress offset by a gold collar draped across her clavicles. She is polite yet aloof until Mage swaggers in, almost unfashionably late though highly fashionable in her black leather and gold piercings, and then the two fall to discussing something gruesome. They could be sisters with their pale skin, black hair, and cold eyes.
Their host enters last of all, dressed in his customary black. Daren’s only concession to the formality of the occasion is a single gold ring on his left hand. He looks to each of the guests in turn, noting their placement in the room, their dress, their body language both before and after they notice him. “Now that you have all arrived,” he says once the conversations have ceased, “shall we begin? Come this way.” He turns and leads them across the wide marble-tiled hall and into the dining room. Exchanging glances that communicate a variety of emotions, his guests follow in silence.
THE DINING ROOM
The long table is set for seven, three seats on each long side and the seventh at the head. Crystal and polished silver gleam amid candlelight, the china white as bone. Upon each dinnerplate is a weapon: a candlestick; a rope tied into a noose; a lead pipe; a wrench; a knife; and a handgun. The seventh is empty. Daren stands behind the empty seventh seat and rests his hands on the back of the chair. “I assume you know why I’ve called you all here,” he begins, “and thus will not waste time with explanations. Every window and exterior door in the house is locked, save for a single window – though I would be careful, I imagine the roof is quite treacherous right now. There are six weapons and seven of us. You have two hours.” He gestures to the table’s deadly spread. “Good luck.”
Wepwawet stands in the center of the observatory, watching the raindrops light up in silver strands every time lightning cracks across the sky. Inanna enters, bearing the lead pipe, and approaches him from behind. “Do you know why I’m here?” she asks. Wepwawet smiles, neither surprised nor concerned at her presence. “Because you came,” he replies, turning to face her. He stretches out both of his arms, kneeling down on one knee, and lowers his head reverently. Then he then raises his head again and looks up at her, his dark eyes filled with a humble peace, and says, “As you will, Queen.” Inanna nods once. She strikes him across the jaw with the lead pipe; the sound of his neck cracking echoes through the room. She then kneels down beside the god’s prostrate body and caresses one slack cheek. “The Duat has missed you,” she murmurs. As she walks away, his body turns to gold and drifts away on a wind that does not stir her hair.
The warm glow of antique light bulbs is reflected by a myriad antique mirrors and the polished wood panels in between. In one corner a piano plays Moonlight Sonata, though no one sits at its bench to press the keys. No one dances with Inanna, either, and yet her raised arms and twirling form suggest an unseen partner. So does the way she suddenly stumbles back, a hand clasped to her red cheek as if she’s been struck. She glares up through the hair fallen into her eyes and hisses, “How dare you defy me!” In response, something throws her backward as easily as a discarded toy; she crashes into the piano with a discordant shriek of keys, scattering bits of polished wood and ivory across the marble floor. She lays unconscious in the wreckage of the instrument as red blood trickles along the curls of her fiery hair. Above her the wrench floats for a moment before something brings it crashing down on her temple. Once the golden ashes of her body have drifted away, all that remains in the middle of the broken piano is the rusty wrench.
THE BILLIARD ROOM
Daren finds Mage in the billiard room, sitting cross-legged atop the pool table with a drink in hand. She doesn’t seem particularly concerned about the knife in his hand even though she does not have a weapon herself, unless you count the 8-ball she rolls back and forth across the felt. She cocks her head as he comes to stand in front of her, her green eyes to his black. She asks, “Do you think it will work? Will you learn what it is you wish to learn?” and he nods. “I’m confident I will, yes.” And then he sinks the dagger deep into Mage’s right thigh, moving so fast she doesn’t even have time to retaliate before he pulls away. The dagger stays behind.
“Motherfucker!” Mage bites back a grunt of pain as she grips the dagger’s hilt. “I knew you were going to do that.” Daren only gives her his ghost of a smile and leaves. Mage downs the last of her drink, briefly considers pouring another but decides she doesn’t have the time, then yanks the dagger out and begins cutting strips of cloth from her pants for bandages. When she has staunched the worst of the bleeding and can put at least some weight on the leg she grabs the dagger and goes in search of the single open window. She is just passing into the hallway when every light in the house extinguishes at the same moment, plunging the labyrinth of rooms and hallways into darkness. Her swearing is hushed but prolific.
Bast is in the library, perusing the shelves of leather-bound books, when the lights go out. Firelight catches her eye and she turns to see the Morrigan walking in, a tall white candle set in the candlestick she bears. Its flickering flame is the only light in the room. “What happened to the lights?” she asks. The Morrigan removes the candle from its holder and approaches. “Here,” she offers, proffering the light. Bast accepts it with a nod and returns back to the books. Behind her the Morrigan raises the candlestick and whispers, “The weight of the world,” before striking Bast in the back of the skull. The goddess collapses to the carpet and lays unmoving in a widening pool of blood. Then her body begins to glow, transforming into something like golden ash, and then the ashes blow away as if by a strange wind.
The Morrigan never sees her killer. She has found her way through the darkness to the cellar where she searches now along the cool walls for the circuit breaker. She cannot see the two hands which appear out of the darkness behind her, nor are they accompanied by any sound of footsteps or breathing. Between them they hold a length of the untied rope taut. Just as she locates the circuit breaker the hands bring the rope down over her head and pull it tight around her neck. The goddess struggles against her assailant, nails scrabbling at the thick rope, but to no avail; her vision flashes with brilliant fireworks of pain as she runs out of oxygen. Once she ceases fighting and goes limp, the hands let her fall to the cement floor. After a moment her body turns to gold ashes which blow up and away.
Tanim stands in the doorway to the study, the gun lowered at his side. Across the room Daren stares into the fireplace, his form silhouetted by the red glow of the coals; these shed the only light left in the tomb-like mansion, just as these two men are the only living things left in it. He does not move as Tanim approaches, nor when the man stops a few feet behind him. Instead he merely asks, “Is it done?”
“Yes,” Tanim raises the gun to the back of his lover’s head. “Are you satisfied with the state of things?”
“Almost,” Daren strikes just as lightning illuminates the room for one stark, white second, its attendant thunder a cacophony all around them. With one arm he pushes Tanim’s out of the way so the shot goes wide; with his other he sinks the dagger deep into Tanim’s chest. Darkness reclaims the room and the two men fall still. Then the gun falls from Tanim’s limp hand and with a folding of his knees he follows it soon after, collapsing on his back as a red stain blooms about the hilt of the blade still lodged in his chest. Daren kneels at his side and smooths the hair from his face. “Now I am,” he says softly. “Goodnight, brother.”
Inanna is the essence of divine autonomy – one may even say divine selfishness. Hers is the supreme confidence to say yes! and the innate audacity to say no! She neither dissembles nor waivers, neither gives up her standards nor gives in to another’s. She does all She desires and nothing She does not desire. She is beholden to no one and thus Her every action is made with absolute freedom of will. The Queen of Heaven has not broken Her chains because She never suffered them to exist in the first place. Inanna is the only sovereign of Inanna, and She can teach you to be the sole sovereign of yourself as well. Every time we exercise our right to self-care by saying yes to something we want or no to something we don’t, we tap into Her willpower. Her road isn’t easy, but it’s the path along which we regain our authority over ourselves and come out the other side wiser and stronger.
I am recording the following for my own reference but I welcome any insights or questions anyone may have. I’m not yet sure what lesson or conclusion I’m supposed to reach in all this. On Friday, October 12th Tanim and Daren (though mostly Daren, I suspect) borrowed my wife (okay, she used the word “hijacked”) for a session of unwitting automatic writing while at work – by which I mean she thought she was taking notes on a patient and looked down to see she had actually written the following with her non-dominant hand:
“It was all there on the table.
The candlestick. The rope. The lead pipe. The wrench. The knife. The gun. He trailed his fingertips along each weapon with veneration.
Clue had always been his favorite board game. He loved the idea of giving six people unique opportunities to kill one another. When he played the game as a child, he often concocted complex scenarios that resulted in the deaths of all six guests. He’d been sent to Sister Reverence’s office more times than he remembered. It was always the same.
‘Young man, this is becoming habitual.’
Habitual. Habit. Like that stupid thing she wears everyday. It would be so easy to grab her by it and pull. Up, up, up. A widening grin. Until she turned purple, like that bitter chalice offered every morning.
STOP TELLING IT. YOU’RE TELLING IT WRONG.”
At this point the writing stopped, but she could still see a scene unfolding very clearly in her mind. She provided me with the following notes:
We discussed it all and here are some of our combined observations:
So that’s where I am now. More to come, I guess??
A maw of darkness gapes before me. Beyond the cave mouth a pathway descends steeply into the cold, primal earth. There is no light to be had down that trail, nor heat, nor companionship. I am finally here – the mouth of the underworld, the first gate of seven through which I must pass. At the end of this journey awaits my death… and, if I am very lucky and very brave, my rebirth. I need only take the first step. Why can’t I take the first step?
I always knew Inanna’s road would lead me here, though not for what purpose. I believe I finally understand, however, and now I the fool who a year ago swore to run boldly in Her ancient footsteps tremble in fear at the threshold. I’m not ready. I’m not ready. How did She do this? How did She walk into the waiting darkness knowing that at every gate She must surrender a piece of Her identity? I don’t know how to let go so easily as She. I don’t know how to leave behind the things which I have dragged with me all the years of my life: internalized misogyny, unattainable beauty standards, self-hate and self-doubt and self-sabotage. I know how to love someone else’s flaws but not my own.
I’ve wondered for years why I could never quite grasp Inanna’s full appearance, why She came to me naked and unadorned with face hidden in shadow. The answer is obvious in hindsight; She was forcing me to look past Her silk robes and glittering jewels, Her golden headdress and lapis lazuli scepter, past the various trappings of the Queen of Heaven and instead to the plain flesh beneath. I had no choice but to stare at Her round hips, Her soft stomach, all Her folds and curves which were so lovingly depicted in devotional art over 5500 years ago. She wants me to understand – and truly embrace – the fact that what I find beautiful in Her I cannot vilify in myself. I must respect my body for what it is: an extension of the divine.
My body issues feel insurmountable sometimes. I’m not sure I can even make it through the first gate of this journey the goddess intends for me, let alone all seven. I asked Inanna how I can learn to love my body; She gave me the tarot card Justice as a reminder that I am my own judge and jury and therefore control the harshness or leniency of my sentence. To make any progress I must learn to see my body through a loving lens, not one warped by society’s impossible standards and my own insecurities. Is that, then, the first sacrifice on this journey? Should I – can I – surrender that broken mirror so I may pass through the gate?
I lift my foot. I take the first step.
The mother comes to me first, bearing open arms and unconditional love. In her embrace I learn to be vulnerable with myself so that I may to listen to and follow my intuition. She sets me upon the path which leads to the others yet remains always at my side as I walk it. She is a goddess of war and she teaches me to fight for what I know is right.
The maiden comes to me second, walking naked out of the underworld with head held high. She shows me the beauty of curves, the haughtiness of folds, the rebellion and freedom inherent in self-love. In the mirror I see her staring back at me, daring me to find flaw in this sacred form. She is a goddess of war and she teaches me to fight for myself above all else.
The crone comes to me last, dragging war in her wake. Under her fierce gaze I learn how to live when all the earth’s become a battlefield, how to survive and thrive on death like her black-winged children. She kindles the witchblood in my veins so I may face the darkness without flinching or giving ground. She is a goddess of war and she teaches me to fight, to fight, to fight.
Me two years ago: Should I worship Sekhmet too, since I already worship Bast?* …no, the war/death goddesses are scary. Gonna stick with Mamma Cat.
Me a week ago: At least Inanna is the only war/death goddess I worship, She’s more than enough to handle on Her own.
So yeah, last week I dreamed I oathbound myself to The Morrigan. I have never worked with Her or anyone from Her pantheon, nor had I even been pondering the possibility. When I woke from the dream, though, I knew it was one I couldn’t ignore. As I sifted through information about The Morrigan, what struck me hardest was how many of the things I’ve come to associate with Inanna fit The Morrigan as well. This, combined with the fact that I’ve struggled since day one to figure out what Inanna wants from me, lead me down a confusing path of wondering, Was it always The Morrigan and never Inanna at all? Or are they both here? Could they be one in the same – and if not, will I offend them if I work with them both? Where’s the line??
To best analyze this new connection as it develops, I’m keeping track of the similarities between the Inanna I know and The Morrigan I’m coming to know, as well as of the things in my past which could also connect with this Celtic goddess. These include (in no particular order):
– I have recently felt extremely drawn to iron nails, knives, and jewelry; a few weeks ago I bought two poison-tempered iron necklaces, one with a skull stamped on it and one with a triskelle and the triple moon (I actually hesitated on buying that one because those symbols are associated with pantheons I don’t work with, but the calling was too strong to resist)
– I have always associated The Morrigan most with my character Mage, and have sometimes even felt like something bigger or older was “wearing” Mage like a mask
– Inanna has always appeared to me as a pale red-haired woman, which never made sense considering She should look Middle Eastern
– I associate ravens, skulls, bones, and bullets with Inanna, all of which also fit The Morrigan
– Since She came into my life, I’ve felt that Inanna wanted me to focus on the story of Her descent into the underworld – to the point that I see Her as a death goddess, though that was not traditionally Her role
– I’ve always been obsessed with crows and ravens; my first word was “caw” and my parents often called me a crow because of my habit for finding things
– I was raised on Irish and Celtic music and have always felt a connection with that land because of my father, who incidentally I dreamed about the same night
– My current DnD character is a champion of the Raven Queen, a goddess obviously modeled after The Morrigan; this was our DM’s choice and a total surprise to me
– My wife recently gave me her old set of runes and as soon as I held them I felt drawn to them despite not having any interest in runes before
– I recently started seriously studying witchcraft and identifying as a witch, and The Morrigan is apparently associated with witches; I’ve also been drawn to poisonous plants, though I don’t know if those are associated with Her too
– Since the dream I’ve seen crows everywhere, along with triskelles and other things associated with Ireland, and either the name Morrigan or names associated with that pantheon
Trying to clear things up, I did a reading with Bast about the situation and a deity reading with The Morrigan and made some additional interesting connextions:
– When I asked about Her omens, signs, and manifestations I drew the King of Cups; this confused me because the card is ocean-themed (seahorses, turtles, etc), which didn’t seem to make sense… until I realized the card reminds me of my father and the same night I dreamed about The Morrigan I dreamed about my father saving a turtle from a plastic bag
– I drew the 6 of Wands for the deity Herself, a card I once pulled when asking Bast how She felt about Inanna and one I pulled in the reading with Bast about this situation
– For The Morrigan’s personality I drew Strength, the card which Inanna first used to identify Herself
– In both readings I drew the 6 of Swords as something I’m not seeing clearly or not paying attention to; this card features storm crows
Many of these things could be pure coincidence or signs from Inanna Herself, considering She does have a war aspect and connections with the underworld, but I sense there’s more to this. I assumed Inanna was the one behind my sudden push into witchcraft, including the poisoned iron and my recent pull toward the darker aspect of the craft, but that assumption never fit quite right. When I imagine The Morrigan as being behind it I feel a sense of rightness.
What I suspect at this early point is that Inanna is in my life to help me master my body issues and self-love and that The Morrigan is the one who desires to help me become a stronger witch. I’m too much of a hard polytheist to treat them like they’re two sides of the same coin – and there’s no way I’m risking pissing either of them off! I always thought I’d stay away from the goddesses of war and death because I get such immensely powerful, scary vibes from them… but I guess that choice wasn’t in the cards for me.
(*Yes, I know Bast is a war goddess as well – but She’s my mamma, that doesn’t count.)
After completing the Bast FAQ I wanted to write one for Inanna. For all that She was an extremely important goddess in the ancient middle east, She doesn’t seem to have much of a following anymore – and often when She does, She just gets lumped in with other similar goddesses. It’s hard to find anything modern about Her worship so I hope my experiences can help anyone else who has been called by Her or is considering working with Her. Again, the following is all based on my own UPG (unverified personal gnosis).
What’s Her personality like?
Inanna shows Herself to me as a copper-skinned woman with dark red hair, very reminiscent of the Gerudo race from The Legend of Zelda. Her fierce warrior essence and proud sensuality give Her an alluring “don’t fuck with me” vibe that’s definitely intimidating – She is the Queen of Heaven and you won’t forget it when you’re in Her presence! In the beginning I saw mostly her warrior side, that part of Inanna which rejoices on the battlefield and destroys entire mountains for not bowing to Her. This aspect must be respected; Inanna’s temper is short and Her memory long. Over time, however, I have come to see Her ‘softer’ aspects more clearly. As a goddess of love and sexuality, She embraces all regardless of perceived flaws and encourages self-love and self-care. Though She may lead you through the underworld to face your deepest fears and secrets, She will also lead you back out into the light. Inanna is the embodiment of tough love, which we all need sometimes in our lives. She will expect a lot from you but never more than you can give.
How did She come into your life?
About two years ago I dreamed about a goddess who was totally white – white skin, white hair, white eyes, like a marble statue – and who had a white snake coiled around Her neck so that it looked almost like ram’s horns. In the dream She asked me, “Why have I been summoned?” in a resounding, thunderous voice, and when I woke I had the name Inanna on my lips. I didn’t know She would be a real goddess; I’d never heard of Her before nor knew anything about the Sumerian pantheon. When I googled Her, though, I found out She was THE goddess of the ancient middle east, powerful and greatly worshiped for ages, and even connected with the earliest named author (a woman!!) in human history. Talk about intimidating…
What does your devotion to Her look like?
For the first year or so of my devotion to Inanna it was a lot of “hurry up and wait”. She indicated She had plans for me, but that I wasn’t ready yet. Therefore, for a good portion of that time I just had a small altar for Her at which I would pray and offer food weekly. Every month or so I’d check in to see if things were moving – and sometimes had Inanna AND Bast tell me I wasn’t ready! At the beginning of this year, 2018, things started to pick up. Inanna indicated She is in my life for two reasons: one, to help me better love myself (especially my body) and two, to assist me as I take up witchcraft. So lately I’ve been trying to honor Her by being kinder to myself physically, mentally, and emotionally, as well as allowing myself to really dive into my interest in witchcraft. Basically any time I stick up for myself or feel like a truly capable, badass person, that’s a tribute in part to Inanna.
Can I worship Her if I’m [insert race/orientation/diagnosis/etc]?
Since Inanna’s expertise covers such a wide array of topics – love, sex, war, government, knowledge, the underworld, fertility, freedom, gender equality, queerness, joy, wrath, courage, magic, and more – just about anyone could follow Her as long as they weren’t actively working against something that falls under Her purview. However, I believe certain groups are especially under Her protection and care, including women and queer people. Inanna has historical connections with gender-swapping, androgyny, and trans-ness, and Her role as a goddess of love and personal autonomy make Her a strong ally for anyone who’s queer or otherwise marginalized by society.
How do I go about initially connecting with Her?
Inanna is scary – and it’s okay to admit that! She wants to be scary. She wants to be intimidating. She wants to know that you’re ready to put the hard work in and that you can handle Her at Her toughest. Never forget that She’s a goddess of war who asks a lot from Her followers. Set some time aside to focus before you reach out to Her, then light some candles, offer up something nice (that won’t break your bank, of course), and introduce yourself. While you don’t need to grovel in the dirt or anything, try to remain formally respectful. Use some of Her epithets and state your intention politely. Inanna isn’t a goddess to go to with instant demands or only when you need a quick fix; everything with Her takes time. If your first connection is weak or it seems like nothing “happened”, just wait and try again. Perseverance will get you far with Her.
How should I communicate with Her?
Everyone will have their own method of communicating with a deity so experiment and see what works for you. I usually use tarot to speak with Inanna when I want a more in-depth answer and this works fine for me – though She can be very blunt! She is partial to the swords and pentacles suits and identified Herself to me as the Strength card. I have also had Her communicate with me through signs like finding crow feathers, certain songs, Day of the Dead imagery, and even several fictional characters. Once you make contact with Her, you might be surprised at all the ways and places She suddenly pops up.
What kinds of offerings does She like?
Inanna is a little picky when it comes to offerings, I’ve learned. While you can get away with the basics (bread, water, etc) if that’s all you have, She definitely knows when you can do better and She’ll make sure you know She knows. For Inanna quality is definitely preferred over quantity. Buy or make something for Her specifically and you’re much more likely to earn Her approval than if you make Her share an offering with other gods or give Her something thoughtless. Don’t worry, though, She’ll be sure to tell you when She wants something!
Some specific offerings I know She likes include: dark chocolate, baked goods, kombucha, apple cider, pomegranates, rose quartz, carnelian, garnet, lapis lazuli, flowers, skulls (especially bird skulls) or skull motifs, candles (I go with something spicy like frankincense and myrrh), bullets, nails, statues, raven figurines or artwork, moodboards, red and gold, witchcraft-related items (athames, cauldrons, mortar and pestle, etc), celestial motifs, dancing, and jewelry (especially snake-themed).
Does She require ritual purity?
Inanna has never required me to be ritually pure to approach Her altar, though I usually already am because I cleanse myself before talking with Bast. That being said, it’s probably not a bad idea – Inanna expects and appreciates respect, and adhering to ritual of any sort is a good way to show respect.
How does She feel about Her followers worshiping other gods as well?
Not only does Inanna come from a very large pantheon, She is heavily associated with other goddesses such as Ishtar, Isis, Venus, and Aphrodite. Given this connection, I don’t think She would have any issue with a follower of Hers worshiping other gods. That being said, I’ve noticed two pet peeves of Hers. One, She doesn’t seem to like sharing altar space if it can be helped – She is much happier with Her own dedicated space. Two, She wants to be recognized as Inanna Herself, not just a carbon copy of Ishtar or other similar goddesses. Every time I considered getting a statue of Ishtar for Her, since finding one of Inanna is rather difficult, I received a very strong NO. I think the similarities between Her and other goddesses can be appreciated and drawn upon in your practice, but you should remember that Inanna is Her own entity and not just an offshoot of any other deity.
I hope this helps!
Seven gates. Seven gates and seven items. Seven gates and seven items surrendered as payment to pass through until at last the goddess Inanna stood naked before Her sister’s throne; no dress, no crown, no jewels to mark Her as the Queen of Heaven, just flesh and bone and bravery. Yet still She was Inanna, even crownless, even when Ereshkigal struck Her dead and hung Her corpse on a hook for three full days. She knew what waited for Her in the underworld and yet She went there anyway in order to know Herself better. To follow Inanna’s path I too must pass through the seven gates, and thus I too must relinquish the seven aspects of my identity with which I define myself. But what are those seven aspects, and who am I without them? Will I like the person I meet beneath the layers of armor and artifice? I do not feel nearly brave enough for such a confrontation, yet I am taking my first hesitant steps along that path all the same. The first gate approaches.
I get the feeling Inanna wants me to do some shadow work, so I used this tarot spread to see where I need to focus.
Question: Your current state of balance
Card: Page of Cups
Interpretation: You’re currently in a new stage of emotional development, one which strengthens feelings of sentimentality and romanticism and leads to a better balancing of your emotions. The Page of Cups especially indicates that you are partway through this phase and have made good progress on the journey of emotional connection and intuition.
Question: Your light side
Card: The Empress
Interpretation: Your light side is represented by The Empress, a card meaning great creativity, abundance, and confidence. Your light side assists in establishing and strengthening emotional connections, especially those that provide positive guidance or support.
Question: Your shadow side
Card: Knight of Pentacles
Interpretation: Your shadow side is represented by the Knight of Pentacles, a card indicating you can be stuck in your ways, rigid, apathetic, and either ignorant of or unable to read others’ emotions. Your shadow side is more concerned with physical reality and the issues of the day-to-day than dealing properly with your emotions or spirituality, which causes these to be pushed away when your shadow side is in control.
Question: How your light side expresses itself in your life
Interpretation: Your light side shows itself in sweeping change and dramatic transformations, in burning the old to make way for the new. Your light side helps you let go of negative influences in your life and grab hold of new, healthier ones.
Question: How your shadow side expresses itself in your life
Card: 10 of Wands
Interpretation: Your shadow side shows when you are overburdened but willing to bear those burdens in silence, when you refuse to complain or ask for help out of stubbornness or martyrdom. You feel weighed down by reality and its restrictions, unable to move or grow, and by necessity you forgo the creativity and transformation generated by your light side.
Question: Advice for balancing your light side
Card: 7 of Pentacles
Interpretation: To balance your light side, take the time to enjoy what your sowing has grown, to reap the rewards of your hard work thus far. You are making steady progress, so don’t get discouraged by what seems like too slow of a pace. Harvest is coming; give your seeds the time to grow and don’t rush what only patience and diligence can produce.
Question: Advice for balancing your shadow side
Card: 5 of Pentacles
Interpretation: To balance your shadow side, strive to see the good all around you; don’t get so lost in your own pain that you see only darkness. Ask for help, admit when you’re tired or sad, and keep moving so the thorns of stagnation and discontent can’t tangle your feet.
Other thoughts: Though three of the suits, both the major and minor arcana, and both pips and face cards are represented here, there are no swords. The spread is dominated by pentacles, which show up as my shadow side and as instruction for balancing the light and the shadow; given my struggle to identify with this suit, obviously some work needs to be done. The presence of cups and multiple pentacles is also in keeping with my other recent readings with Inanna.
Kneeling before Inanna’s altar I eat a pomegranate with my hands, bloody juice dripping down my fingers and chin. Sweet, bitter, I swallow seeds and spit out half-chewed rind. Inanna’s self-love isn’t all rose petals and bubble bath; it’s stained lips, sticky hands, the crunch of firm flesh beneath your teeth. Inanna’s self-love is red, raw, naked and proud of it. It is both the throne and the meat hook, the body and the spirit. She would have me know all of myself, especially those dark depths into which I am afraid to descend. There can be no self-love without acceptance, no acceptance without understanding, no understanding without recognition.
In my dreams I call myself witch.