Uncursing the Dark

     The myth of Inanna's Descent to the Underworld weaves together a collection of essays in this book. In the myth Inanna boldly descends into the Underworld. She seems to have in mind gaining possession of the throne of her older sister Ereshkigal, Queen of the Great Below.

      Inanna! Ereshkigal invites her in, strips off her crown, her jewels, her emblems of power, and finally her royal robe. Naked and bowed low, Inanna attempts to sit on her sister’s throne. For this offense Ereshkigal beats her into a piece of meat, hangs her rotting fles on a peg.

     The themes of descent, suffering, and transformation, experiences that are part of our human lot, inform the subsequent essays in the book. A contemporary Navajo ritual, Blessing Way, and the ancient Greek ritual, the Thesmophoria, each are presented in separate chapters. Doris Lessing’s mythical novel, Memories of a Survivor, tells a tale of a woman’s transformative meeting, at the end of an arduous series of encounters, with a sweet female presence, like that of a divine woman. Judy Grahn’s poem “Descent to the Butch of the Realm” describes the bottom rung of the ladder into the underworld. The book’s section “Beyond the Underworld” contains excerpts and thoughts about the spiritual meaning of the poems of the Mesopotamian high priestess Enheduanna.

     Uncursing the Dark attempts to articulate a variety of paths toward fulfillment outside traditional western religious practices. The book describes harsh realities and flickers of insight from a number of sources that may resonate to contemporary souls searching for meaning and direction.

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