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An ongoing series of informational entries

Ereshkigal

Queen Of The Sumerian Underworld

Queen Of The Great Below

Sept, 26 2019

Ereshkigal, in Mesopotamian religion, goddess in the Sumero-Akkadian pantheon who was Lady of the Great Place (i.e., the abode of the dead) and in texts of the 3rd millennium BC wife of the god Ninazu (elsewhere accounted her son); in later texts she was the wife of Nergal. Ereshkigal’s sister was Inanna (Akkadian: Ishtar), and between the two there was great enmity. In the rendezvous of the dead, Ereshkigal reigned in her palace, on the watch for lawbreakers and on guard over the fount of life lest any of her subjects take of it and so escape her rule. Her offspring and servant was Namtar, the evil demon, Death. Her power extended to earth where, in magical ceremony, she liberated the sick possessed of evil spirits.

Ereshkigal’s cult extended to Asia Minor, Egypt, and southern Arabia. In Mesopotamia the chief temple known to be dedicated to her was at Cuthah.

Ereshkigals Realm 

The ancient Mesopotamians believed in life after death and that the souls of the dead traveled to the Underworld. To the Sumerians, this place was known as Kur, whilst the Akkadians referred to it as Irkalla. This was a dark, gloomy place, where the dead were believed to drink from muddy puddles and eat dust. The ruler of the Mesopotamian Underworld was Ereshkigal, whose name means ‘Queen of the Great Below’, or ‘Lady of the Great Place’. ‘Great’ in this instance is a reference to the vastness of her realm

Irkalla

The Sumerian Underworld ( The Shadow Lands)

Ereshkigal

Here Is A Photograph Of Ereshkigal Mourning Nergal

The Origins Of Ereshkigal 


In some myths, Ereshkigal is said to have been the daughter of Anu, the supreme god of the Mesopotamian pantheon and the personification of the sky. According to one myth, when Anu’s tears, which were shed for his separated sister-lover Ki (the personification of the earth), mingled with the salty water of the primeval sea goddess Nammu, Ereshkigal was born.


This goddess became the Queen of the Underworld after she was abducted by the dragon Kur, who was the half-brother of Ereshkigal. The dragon brought the goddess to the Underworld, and although the gods tried to rescue her, they were not able to do so, as no one, not even the gods, were able to return from the realm of the dead.

Innannas Descent Into Irkalla 

Ereshkigal plays a prominent role in the myth known as Inanna’s Descent to the Underworld . The main character of this myth is Inanna, the Queen of Heaven, Ereshkigal’s younger sister. In the myth, Inanna journeyed to the Underworld to observe the funeral rites of Gugalanna, Ereshkigal’s husband. Although Inanna was allowed to pass through the seven gates of the Underworld, Ereshkigal instructed her gatekeeper, Neti, to remove a piece of clothing or jewelry from her sister as each gate was opened. This may be interpreted as the gradual removal of Inanna’s power as she progressed deeper into the realm of her sister. Finally, when Inanna reached Ereshkigal’s throne room she was completely naked and therefore powerless. After the Annuna of the Dead passed judgment on her, Inanna was killed by Ereshkigal and her corpse was hung from a hook on the wall. The gods, however, succeeded in rescuing her, and brought her out of the Underworld alive.

Inanna

The Goddess Inanna (Meridia) Preparing For Her Descent To Irkalla The World Below

Ereshkigal And Nergal

The Union & Marriage Between Nergal & The Goddess Ereshkigal

Marriage To Nergal 

Another myth in which Ereshkigal appears is that of her marriage to Nergal, her fourth consort. In this tale, the gods held a banquet which Ereshkigal was not able to attend. Thus, the Queen of the Underworld sent her son, Namtar, as her representative. As Namtar arrived, all the gods, except Nergal, the war god, stood up out of respect for Ereshkigal. Namtar felt insulted, and when he returned to the Underworld, he complained about this to his mother.

Enraged, Ereshkigal demanded that Nergal be handed over to her so that she could kill him. The gods complied with this demand, though Nergal was given 14 demons to aid him at each of the seven gates. Ereshkigal instructed that the gates be shut after Nergal passed through each of them and when the war god arrived in the throne room she would kill him.


Nergal, however, posted a pair of demons at each gate to keep it open. When the war god reached Ereshkigal, he overpowered her and her son. As Nergal prepared to decapitate Ereshkigal with his axe, the goddess pleaded for mercy, promising to be his wife and to share her power with him. Nergal appeared to have felt sorry for what he had done, and spared Ereshkigal. Although Nergal remained with Ereshkigal in the Underworld, he only did so for half a year, as he was the war god, and war is a feature of human existence that cannot be removed permanently.