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I initially created this piece as part of three paintings for a book exploring mythology surrounding the Mespotanian goddess Inanna, written by Wyn Abbot. This piece is called “Ereshkigal Queen of the Underworld” and portrays her on her throne on the underworld with two giant guardian owls at her side, snakes entwined between columns of bones and vines. The image is a mirror of Inanna…  and as Inanna is standing on the shining walls of Uruk at the peak of her grandeur and power, so does Ereshkigal stand a top the walls of the dead, presiding over her domain with a merciless eye.

“Then Ereshkigal fastened on Inanna the eye of death

She spoke against her the word of wrath.

She uttered against her the cry of guilt.”

(Descent Of Inanna Wolkstein – Kramer)

Ereshkigal, is the Mesopotamian dark goddess, the Queen of the Underworld and sister of Inanna. She represents the dark aspect of the great mother goddess, symbolising death and rebirth. Similar to Persephone and Kali, she is both feared and revered for her role in maintaining the balance of life and death. Ereshkigal’s story parallels Inanna’s descent into the underworld, reflecting themes of sacrifice and resurrection. Originally known as Ninlil, she symbolised fertility and life until being banished to the underworld, where she became the keeper of souls. Inanna’s journey into the underworld to confront Ereshkigal results in her death and subsequent rebirth, mirroring the cycle of life and the changing seasons. Through various cultural interpretations and mythological incarnations, Ereshkigal embodies the primordial darkness from which new life emerges, symbolising the eternal cycle of creation and destruction.

“Ereshkigal was the Queen of the underworld, her name kigal or ki, means great earth.  Ki, Eresh-ki-gal means ‘Lady of the Goddess Earth’ and Ereshkigal is the representation of the great mother goddess, the older goddess of the earth, as with Inanna, and as part of Inanna, she is anthropomorphic.  So, Inanna and Ereshkigal are two parts of the same goddess.

Her position as dark goddess or queen of the underworld aligns her with the Greek Persephone, Egyptian Nephthys, and the Indian Kali, more besides including the Norse goddess Hel and of course the Christian Lucifer or Satan.

All of these deities are portrayed both as ruthless, and to be feared, but are also the keeper or protector of souls, and… they are said to be merciful, although that is not usually the first sentiment expressed about them.  Their role is to maintain the balance of life and death, to provide a space for those who have died, to prepare for new life to come.” (Inanna Queen of Heaven – Wyn Abbot)

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A3, A4, A5 Altar Card, A6 Mediation Card