The story (ca. 4000 BC)
Inanna is the Sumarian Goddess of Love, War, Fertility and Lust.
The Queen of Heaven. Things are well for her in her realm, and yet, she hears a call to go down into the Underworld, where her Dark Sister Ereshkigal dwells. She asks her priestess Ninshubur to drum for her while she is gone, and to go ask the Sky Gods for help if she does not return in three days.
Then she descends, and has to go through 7 gates. At each gate, she is asked to lay down something she is wearing , stripping away her power and identity one by one. After the last gate, she is naked. And when she stands before Ereshkigal, her Dark Sister sees she has offered everything, except the one doing the offering, Inanna herself. And she gives Inanna the look of death. Her body is hung on a meat hook to rot.
When the three days have gone by, Ninshubur goes to the Sky Gods and asks them for help. But they are not interested in helping Inanna – she shouldn’t have gone down in the first place. That’s what happens if you go against the rules and outside what is deemed normal.
So Ninshubut goes to Enki, the God of Water, who is willing to help Inanna. He creates two creatures from the dirt underneath his fingernails and they fly down to the Underworld.
These creatures, called the mourners, are small enough to go through the gates undetected, and when they get down, they see Ereshkigal in great pain. And they start to reflect that pain back to her, with warmth. So when She says: “Owww, my liver….”, they say “Oww yes, your liver…” And on and on it goes.
And when Ereshkigal has gone through her birthing process, she is so grateful to have been truly acknowledged in her pain, that she offers the mourners anything they want. They ask for Inanna’s body, and give her the water and bread of life. Inanna can then go back up, collecting her belongings at the gates, with the agreement that somebody has to take her place in the Underworld.
When she is up, surrounded by demons, she first sees Ninshubur, who is crying and so happy to see her. The demons want to take Ninshubur, but Inanna won’t let them. Than they meet her borthers, who have been grieving as well, and again, Inanna protects them from the demons.
When she comes to her palace, she sees Dumuzi, her husband once sheep herder. While she was away he sat on Her thrown, and now he is partying, drinking and having a good time. After an internal struggle Inanna said to the demons to take him down to take her place in the Underworld.