This is a collaborative piece for Dark Goddess Collective. The authors are Tania Ciolek, Nini Bee Honeywolf, and Kaycee Reeves.
Each one of us has a unique thread to follow. Our threads may cross or tangle, they may align and seem to merge with others, but the individual thread we each carry is ours alone in this world and in the underworld. When we’re brave enough to follow our thread deep into the Great Below to come face to face with Ereshkigal, Mother of Dust and Bone, the driving force is usually a deep need to feel aligned with our soul path.
To willingly merge with the energy of Ereshkigal to bring death to our blockages takes great strength of will.
To face ourselves in the mirrors of the underworld and take responsibility for our lives, our selves, and our next steps forward as we live out the remainder of our time here is a monumental achievement.
Life and Death
I find it hard to connect with Ereshkigal without mention of Inanna. As is the way of myth; in some accounts they’re sisters, in others they aren’t. Either way, they are representations of life and of death. What makes life precious if not the ever-present force of death that we all will face. Life ultimately leads to death and death in turn leads to life. Life and death are intimately connected. They’re entwined in a romantic embrace. They feed and nurture each other. They have separate identities yet remain balanced and respectful of each other.
Life is meant to be in a partnership with death but let’s be honest, here in this realm life is what should reign.
Death isn’t meant to be the driving force of humankind. And too often that’s what we see when we look around, genocide, global famine, death. Death demands respect but it never demands worship. Death wants to be recognized for the immense power that it holds but doesn’t want to be glorified and used as a force of manipulation and control.
So why do we immerse ourselves in this difficult work?
As witches, we are the ones called to heal the collective and some of us get this call through the voice of the Dark Goddess. Keeping a balance may seem a small contribution but each person that helps heal themselves and begins to walk their path in alignment with their soul is adding healed and powerful energy to the collective force. And Gaia needs that energy right now.
7 Gates Within, 7 Gates Below
We learn most of what is known about Ereshkigal, Great Queen of the Land of the Dead through the experiences of the living. Death may be inevitable, but few people want to call it into their inner circle. The very alive and breathing epic tales of Gilgamesh and the story of Inanna’s Descent give us a glimpse at the Mighty Ereshkigal.
Through the story of Inanna’s descent, we learn that there must be a sacrifice at every one of the seven gates of Irkalla. To reach the throne room of Ereshkigal one must be stripped to their essence.
Seven is a powerful number. There were the 7 divine powers, the 7 Gates of Irkalla, Ereshkigal is joined in the underworld by the 7 judges.
What if we added an association to the 7 main chakras?
We can easily think of each Chakra as an energy center, a conductor, a spinning wheel of power. The beauty of being a modern witch is the ability to weave meaning into your experience. For me, the seven gates can represent the seven main chakras and I’ll briefly explain how.
Traditionally when one works on their chakras the root is where you would begin. Not in this instance, we aren’t trying to ascend anywhere. We are in a cleansing descent deep into the underworld and we need to be bare, down to our very roots.
For this reason, we are going to use the chakras to descend and remove any blockages that appear on the way down (stay tuned, there will be more on this in an upcoming piece on divination, but I want you to start thinking about the chakra association).
- The 1st Gate of Irkalla is where the descent begins. Innana removes her turban which is a symbol of her heavenly power. The Crown Chakra.
- The 2nd Gate Inanna lays down her scepter, her rod of power. The Third Eye.
- At the 3rd Gate she takes off the lapis beads that adorn her neck. The Throat Chakra.
- The 4th gate is when Inanna removes her breast plate. The Heart Chakra. We must approach Ereshkigal with an expansive heart center.
- The 5th Gate is when Inanna removes her golden rings of power. This is the Solar Plexus.
- At the 6th gate Inanna removes the sacred egg-shaped beads from her breast. The Sacral Chakra.
- The 7th Gate is where she removes her royal robes of power. The Root Chakra.
Here we stand naked as well, with our heart open and expansive. Full of respect, not fear. We may be fearful in that we don’t know what to expect, but our hearts will be free of fear and open to receive the wisdom of Ereshkigal, knowing that it may be painful but also necessary. She will show you what you have been trying not to see.
Spiral of True Self
These gates exist in a nonlinear spiral. Each one marked by its corresponding chakra energy center. Each one demanding a sacrifice of some kind so that the descent down the spiral can continue. It’s a serpentine flow of energy which matches the fact that the kundalini resides here in the root chakra.
The divine Shakti.
Think of it as your deeply guarded true and shining inner self meeting up with your outer self. Are you ready to stand face to face with your inner serpent and bring a balance between her and the person you are in the outer world. This is what Ereshkigal brings. Ways to release all that holds us back from being pure forces of life and love.
She is the boundary keeper and the obstacle destroyer.
She demands honesty and an open heart but not just for herself. It is a gift for you. She wants you to be honest with what is holding you back because that leads to being honest about what propels you forward. As you contemplate release remember to also think on what brings you joy. What do you wish you had more time or energy to do? Ereshkigal can help plant the seeds for the you and the life you want but you must be able to look at yourself with the eye of truth and speak to yourself with words of compassion and then act from a place of love.
Shedding Our Layers
The magic of Ereshkigal is in the things that need to be let go of in order to reach the bottom of the downward spiral that leads to her world. The things she guides and forces us to leave behind to get in front of her, at the core, resides in the bones. The key to this process is to trust her guidance in choosing what needs to be left at each of her gates. We must be open to allowing her energy to unlock and mark the memories, habits, thoughts and defence mechanisms that are not serving us, her, or the whole process of shedding and rebirth she is leading us through.
The Myth & The Queen We Face
In the Myth, her throne is behind a set of seven gates, each one demanding the sacrifice of layer of clothing and jewellry and ultimately forcing Inanna to face the Queen of the Dead naked, stripped of her powers and of the things that characterised and empowered her from the outside in.
There is such an important lesson to be learned, when working with Ereshkigal’s unforgiving, queenly, inflexible energy. There is a layer of consciousness within which we are allowed and able to chose what to leave behind. However, there is the next level of consciousness where the Divine comes in. She forces us to shed the dearest of our bad habits, our protective masks as well as the shackles of trauma, pain and grief that force us to act in a certain way without us being even aware of it.
Trauma coerces us into the avoidance of parts of ourselves, concealing them to us through fear and emotional scarring and depriving us to their power and joy, robbing us of our wholeness.
The journey of shedding and reclaiming those parts of our soul is an unavoidable, difficult part of spiritual growth and yet, only a phase of our descent into Ereshkigal’s realm. There is so much that conceals our soul to the outer world and we are requested to let go of all of it (that we can reach, as we always heal in cycles). The letting go will be in layers, in a slow but necessary process allowing us to discover the true foundations of our selves: our true nature, our true souls.
This is where we find our spiritual bones, their true shape, and what they are made of.
Trust is Not Optional
Ereshkigal demands trust, in this process.
Trust despite fear, trust through letting go of the hold we have on things that we believe are part of our identities but, truthfully, she knows (and we know) they are not. Her energy mercilessly points out the parts of our identities that we often don’t know are coming from the all sides:
- From family and peers
- From society
- From trauma
- From our own self protection habits
Our awareness of what needs to go is a measure of trust in order for us to access her realm and her presence. We remove the mask lest she remove it forcibly. Some of those masks we might have made ourselves, allowing pride and achievements to define us as people in the way society -and not spirit- wants us to. We forget that our soul truth needs to be cultivated in the darkness of our essence before we can reach an aligned outwards expression, an aligned course of action that nourishes our spirit as it nourishes others.
I am so grateful for this, as the uncomfortableness of shedding the layers covering and constricting our true selves holds the power of discovering and embracing our true soul and its purpose, to the embodiment of our true selves, our best and highest form, a sovereign life.
Ereshkigal is Hunger for Truth
We need to allow her hunger to become our hunger, her energy to envelop our energy and guide us through the descent into the darkness of her realms. It’s going to be scary and it’s going to be uncomfortable. But it’s also going to be freeing and exilarating and, most importantly, deeply transformative if we embrace the process and allow Ereshkigal to guide us through.
As Above, So Below
Many witches have been raised on an understanding of the reflections of the macrocosm and the microcosm. The mirrors of the world within us is reflected by the world outside of us, that which is above us is also below us. This includes patterns we find in behaviors and the seasons. As Tania and Nini have beautifully provided information on the 7 gates to Ereshkigal and the 7 gates of energy we hold within ourselves, where else does this serpentine energy reflect?
We see the serpent, an unbelievable ally of wisdom, cycles, and intuition, in so many places and spaces. These amazing creatures and their energy is found on land, sea, and sky. Here at Dark Goddess Collective we have discovered varying degrees of that wisdom with Tiamat and Medusa. We have uncovered it around us in symbols, such as the one mistaken for medicine: Caduceus (still takes us back to the understanding that the only difference between poison and medicine is the dosage).
Reflections in the Sky
There is also a reflection in the sky, in the Serpens Constellation. Aside from the Demon’s Eye, I have truly been curious about what speaks to me intuitively about the serpent in the sky. This constellation is a part of Ophiuchus, known as ‘serpent-bearer’. In Sumerian myth it was said to have represented Nirah (meaning ‘little snake’) as Lord of the Underworld, but that is also tied to such Gods as Ninazu and Nergal. Unsurprisingly, the myths put both of these Gods as connected to Ereshkigal.
While I felt I was onto something, this was not the thing that made me stop in my tracks.
The End…or The Beginning?
The Serpens Constellation has two parts, Serpens Caput (head) and Serpens Cauda (tail). At each end, there is beauty to behold, for it speaks of the end, or is the beginning? For me, it matches perfectly as both because that is the pattern of nature. At Serpens Caput, there is a galaxy that reminds me of both a crown and the Ouroboros named Hoag’s Object:
However, at Serpens Cauda, moving down to the tail, we find the Milky Way’s Galactic Plane passes here. Now this wouldn’t typically mean very much until we take into consideration that the Eagle Nebula is there. What does that Nebula Contain? The Pillars of Creation:
In Bone Season, as the Earth is going down and in, our own journeys take us in the same direction. If you are to map the constellation, head to tail, with your own body (crown to root), there will be a deep intuitive connection to the understanding of as above, so below. Ereshkigal and her gates map the same way, down and in.
We know that the serpent is a powerful symbol for it has driven fear as long as I can remember.
Faced with change, with the unknown, and with the void space found between the end and the beginning, it is not uncommon to be apprehensive. Here is the thing, behind that door of apprehension, after the void room, is the you that is woven powerfully, with wise serpentine skin filled with the magic only you can hold.
For Ereshkigal will call.
A Candle & A Key,
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Featured Image Credit: Pixabay