A little known fact about me is I am a history nerd. My love of history, specifically ancient history, began in fifth grade. Mr. Weir, my teacher, was a fabulous storyteller. He made history come alive with his behind-the-scenes tales. Because of Mr. Weir, I pursued history as one of my majors, even though I had no plans to be a historian. (Shoutout to Gary Weir for making learning fun and interesting!)
In preparation for this week’s newsletter article, I pursued my love of ancient history as I researched one of the oldest recorded civilizations, Sumer. Sumer was a Mesopotamian collection of city-states in present-day Iraq. Sumerians are credited with inventing writing (cuneiform), the plow, law codes, literature, and the sexigesimal system (Base-60 math, e.g. 60 minutes in an hour) among many other inventions. [Source]
As most historians will tell you to understand a culture’s values and norms look to the way people worship and govern. With a significant amount of female deities, the Sumerian pantheon reflected back a culture in which women from the upper classes had permission to sign contracts, own land, and run a business. Some women even had leadership positions, the most famous of which is Kubaba, a tavern owner, who ruled the Sumerian city-state of Kish around 2,500 B.C.E. [Source]
One Sumerian goddess, in particular, received a lot of attention and later was adopted by conquering civilizations. This goddess is Inanna, who initially was worshiped as a vegetation/fertility goddess. As Sumer moved from a primarily agrarian society to urban city-states, Inanna was elevated to “Queen of Heaven” and was associated with sexuality, passion, fertility, love, prostitutes and war. [Source]
The most famous story about Inanna is called Inanna’s Descent and was written by Enheduanna, the world’s first author known by name. Enheduanna was the daughter of Sargon of Akkad, who conquered Sumer, and brought all the city-states under his rule. Sargon appointed his daughter as the regent of Ur where she served as the High Priestess of Inanna. Enheduanna was instrumental in helping her father stablize the region and build his empire.
A big THANK YOU to my sons, Reed and Liam, for painting the front porch at Shakti. Come checkout the fresh look at Makerspace this Friday (2-5 pm).
How fitting that the first author known by name is a woman who writes about the heroine’s journey – the plot of Inanna’s Descent. In this story, Inanna leaves her home, her consort, and her identity to travel to the underworld, a kingdom ruled by her sister, Ereshkigal.
Once naked, Inanna stands before Ereshkigal who holds Inanna accountable for her misdeeds. Holding Inanna responsible for the death of her consort, Ereshkigal nails Inanna to the wall and leaves her to die. Through a convoluted series of steps involving Inanna’s father, husband, and sister-in-law, Inanna is allowed to return topside as long as someone takes her place in the underworld. Inanna’s unfaithful consort, Dumuzi the god of fertility, and his sister, Geshtinanna, take Inanna’s place, each spending six months of the year in the underworld. (This arrangement explains the change in seasons. When the fertility god is underground, humans experience fall and winter.)
Inanna’s Descent is more than a story to explain the seasons or a cautionary tale for cheating partners, rather this story is about the importance of going within to examine one’s shadow. Ereshkigal represents the part of us that is regulated to the dark: the part of us we only see when we divest ourselves of the things which support our ego. To return to her home, Inanna must confront what has hurt her (cheating husband) and reclaim her innate power – the power that is not dependent on external resources.
This descent and subsequent reclaiming is a story that has been repeated throughout human mythology. Isis and Osiris and Persephone and Demeter are two such examples. Whenever a myth features the divine feminine entering the dark, then know you are receiving a lesson about the importance of confronting your shadow and reclaiming your authentic power.
Venus, the planet which represents the divine feminine aspects of love, beauty, and justice, stationed retrograde last Saturday (July 22). For the next forty days, the planet goes dark and is not visible in the sky. (Venus is experiencing a descent.) If you wish, you could view the next forty days as an opportunity to embark on your own heroine’s journey. Just like Inanna, you could divest yourself of your ego defenses to find love, beauty, and justice that are not dependent on other’s expectations or demands.
If you choose to investigate the messages found in the shadows, then please take extra good care of yourself. Give yourself the space to be quiet and do not be afraid to ask for help/support. If you would prefer to engage in this type of exploration as a member of an interdependent, intentional community, then know there will be an opportunity to participate in a Shadow Work series this fall.
Wishing everyone a wonderful week.
Kim Bushore-Maki is a soul-driven entrepreneur who understands the undeniable urge to create a business and a life filled with meaning and purpose. Her vision of opening a center where people could heal and grow led her to open Shakti in the Mountains in Johnson City, Tennessee: a place where the creative, feminine energy is nurtured and valued.
Kim is a licensed professional counselor and a yoga teacher. She completed the Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy program as well as the Shake Your Soul Yoga Dance program. Kim is very interested in somatic expressive therapy, archetypal psychology, gardening, herbalism, astrology, wisdom traditions, and regenerative economics.
Kim continues to build and to support inclusive, vibrant communities. She spends most of her time mentoring leaders, guiding healing programs, and providing mental health counseling.
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Shadow Work: Uncovering our Unconscious Needs
A 6 week series
To support emerging leaders, the Shadow Work series is being offered this fall to build resilience and freedom. The goal of this series is to unearth your unconscious needs so you may eliminate limiting beliefs and healthily address your needs.