#2171

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.

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#2091

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.

#2064

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.

#2049

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.

#1935

Hail Inanna, Queen of Heaven
Hail Inanna, the Morning and the Evening Star
Hail Inanna, She Who Descended and Arose Again
Hail Inanna!

Great Lady, look down on Your devotee with favor
I who come to you naked and humbled
praying You will make me as You are.
Protectress of Harlots, Goddess of Queers
teach me to lust, help me to desire
awaken my spirit to the joys of the flesh.
You who sing the praises of Your own body
and take such delight in the bodies of others
teach me Your dances and Your songs.
In return I offer You my blood
that red river which flows with the cyclic moon;
may its monthly resumption honor Your fiery passion
and renew the unbreakable bond between us.

Hail Inanna, Queen of Heaven
Hail Inanna, the Morning and the Evening Star
Hail Inanna, She Who Descended and Arose Again
Hail Inanna!

[ TMI explanation: I recently decided I need to do something about my low libido. Maybe I can’t change it, but I feel like I at least have to try for my sake, my partner’s, and our relationship. To that end, I’m starting to work with Inanna in the hopes of nourishing that little seed of lust that sleeps (very) deep inside me. My first step on this journey was to stop taking birth control. I’ve been on hormonal birth control for many years to ease my period symptoms (and cut down my period to 4 times a year), and I think it’s time to go off it and see how my body does without it. I don’t know if my birth control has any effect on my libido, but I think it’s worth trying. When I made that decision, I realized I could, and should, offer the restarting of my natural cycle to Inanna. What better to offer the goddess of war, sex, and raw female power than menstrual blood? So above is the prayer I wrote for this dedication. It could also easily be adapted to the use of any blood, for those who may not menstruate, or to any other deity, should anyone else be considering something similar. ]

#1893

Amid snakes and bullets, crystals and rose petals, She watches. Her dark eyes are circled with white skull makeup; She wears Her death with easy arrogance. I fear that gaze. I fear Her, even as I light Her candle and cry Her titles. Hail Inanna, Queen of Heaven! Hail Inanna, the Morning and the Evening Star! Hail Inanna, She Who Descended and Arose Again! I fear Her as I fear Her sisters Kali and Sekhmet, Ishtar and Morrigan, Scylla and Charybdis. I fear Her wrath, Her pride, Her fickle love and frightening affection – and yet She calls to me. From Her corner altar draped in red, She waits with infinite patience as I alternately approach and shy back from Her path. It leads down deep, dark roads, and I fear above all what I will have to surrender to walk its length. But She tells me such satisfying stories, tales in which a woman can tear down mountains and sit naked and proud on the throne of death, and She whispers such sweet promises that taste like the salt-sown ashes of our enemies. She reminds me that things were not always this way, the bones of justice ground beneath the boots of our oppressors, and it does not have to remain this way. She reminds me of the goddesses who danced on the battlefield, laughing, howling, rejoicing in the thrill of bloody triumph, and that they remain with us. From Her altar, through Her death’s mask, Inanna watches and waits.