God And Goddess Symbol Meanings – Inanna
The Goddess Inanna made quite a name for herself in ancient Mesopotamia. Traditionally seen as the Queen of the Sumerian Pantheon, she was also believed to be the goddess of love, fertility, abundance, and war. Inanna can often be found being called by other names, including Ninanna (Queen of the Sky) and Ninsinanna, when she is viewed as the personification of Venus.
In ancient Babylon, she was known as the great Ishtar. Various myths from ancient times portray her in a fairly fickle light. It was told that she was vengeful, specifically with her discarded lovers. She was also selfish and vain, appearing in a legend that explains her demise. Ruling the upper world became unsatisfactory for Inanna, who descended upon her sister’s territory in the underworld and attempted to take over.
Having been found out by the sister, Ereshkigal, Inanna was turned into a corpse. Although she was eventually rescued, the goddess damned her husband to spend six months of each year in the miserable place, feeling that he did not show sufficient signs of distress at her disappearance. Fittingly, she is not considered a sky goddess merely because of her link to Venus: her wrath gained her the title of goddess of rain and storms. Thus, Inanna had both a fear-mongering strength and a flawed weakness. Although she was a ruler who others feared to cross, her fickleness and tendency to get bored with her many lovers led her to disaster.
Goddess Inanna Symbolism
Still, she was certainly worshipped and praised, even if it was out of sheer terror and the inclination to beg for fertility. Her primary symbol is agriculturally based, as she was thought to control abundance and fertility. In fact, she was typically incorporated into the ancient Sumerian wedding ceremonies. Performed at the Sumerian New Year celebration, the sacred rite included the invocation of Inanna in order to bless the newlyweds with fertility and abundance. Accordingly, her symbol of a spiral or twisted knot of reeds speaks of this connection to reproduction in nature.
Across Mesopotamian societies, Inanna was a symbol of the divinity and dominance of feminine energy and its power in ensuring creation. The “bundle” of reeds was considered a fairly sacred symbol for a multitude of reasons, but its connection to Inanna pertains to one particular legend. It states that Enki was planning to annihilate mankind with a great flood, but Inanna built a great vessel out of the reeds – think Noah’s Ark, for clarification.
Although vengeful, wrathful, and, at times, seemingly insatiable, Inanna was worshiped for saving the human race. Her connection with rain and storms also plays out in a calmer and more relaxed fashion, with people deeming her the River of Life.
Reeds grew in the water, after all, meaning she must have had a connection to purity symbolism, even if she didn’t behave in an overly pure way herself. As stated above with the mention of Noah’s Ark (in Christianity and Judaism), many ancient cultures of the time developed stories of creation in which life emerged from the waters after the destruction had passed. If she facilitated this, it makes sense why she was viewed as so powerful and mighty.
In addition to saving humanity and traveling along the great rivers of the world, this goddess symbolized more general traits and qualities, all of which can be interpreted through her bundle of reeds. Themes such as protection, purification, a sense of purpose, and clarification were sung in her name.
All of the themes continue to find common ground in water element, which is interesting, as humans are largely made up of water. As such, all of the stories concerning her and water can be easily related to our lives (and the lives of the ancient Mesopotamians who created her image). By including the spiral in her depiction, the ancient people who worshiped her made a symbolic representation of the natural flow of life. From the center outward, people must learn to grow and evolve without ever forgetting the seed or core that is the soul.