HOME Select the Hymns to Inanna and Ishtar:

     new link: Myth of Asushunamir

The Myth of Asushunamir

or The Origin of the Queer

Asushunamir was created by Enki to rescue Inanna from the "Land of No Return." Inanna, Queen of Heaven, was given great gifts by Enki the Wise. Wisdom, justice, love, the sacred women, and the fruit of the vine. The gift that saved her from death Enki fashioned from the dirt beneath his fingernails. A being of light called, Asushunamir. (S)he whose face is radiant, beautiful in countenance; Asushunamir (S)he, clothed in the stars, male & female, companion to Inanna; Asushunamir The spell of Ereshkigal, Queen of the Dead, could not possess this luminescent being. Yet she was charmed by  Asushunamir's beauty, moved by (he)r voice, amused by (he)r dance. Ereshkigal called for a great feast to be held in (he)r honor; the best wine, the finest meats, the most sumptuous of fruit. Ereshkigal dreamed of taking this beautiful being to her bed, and of keeping her forever with her in the Land of the Dead.

But Asushunamir was careful to pour the wine upon the floor and to eat no food prepared by the servants of Ereshkigal. When the Queen of the Dead grew careless from the wine, Asushunamir asked if (s)he might taste the water of life, kept locked in the cellar. This was the water of which Enki had spoken when Asushunamir came into the world, the water with which one must be sprinkled to pass through the seven gates of Irkalla, the water to renew one's life on earth. Ereshkigal cried out, "Namtar, bring the jug with the water of life. I shall grant the wish of this charming creature." Later, when Ereshkigal fell into a deep sleep, Asushunamir made (he)r way to the lampless cell where Inanna, captive, lay dying. (S)he sprinkled Inanna with the water of life and, as the drops fell on her inert body, Innana breathed easily as a child might breathe and then awakened. Beautiful and once more flowing with the energy of life, Innana quickly made her way through the seven gates of Irkalla, ascending to earth, causing the flowers to grow and restoring the trees to green. People returned to their planting, their weaving, their making of wine, their love making, and a great feast was held in honor of the return of Inanna.

Asushunamir was not as fortunate. Ereshkigal awoke as (s)he was approaching the seventh gate, and neither (he)r beauty, nor (he)r charm, nor (he)r dancing or songs, could extinguish the passion that had turned to hate. ``The food of the gutter shall thou eat,'' cried Ereshkigal, her every word a curse.``The water of the sewer shall be your drink. In the shadows you shall abide, despised and hated by even your own kind.'' Having pronounced the curse, Ereshkigal banished Asushunamir.

When Inanna learned of the curse placed upon Asushunamir, she wept and spoke softly that no one might here. ``The power of Ereshkigal is great. No one dares to defy her. Yet I may soften her curse upon you, as spring arrives to banish winter. Those who are like you, my assinnu and kalum and kugarru and kalaturru, lovers of men, kin to my sacred women, shall be strangers in their own homes. Their families will keep them in the shadows and will leave them nothing. The drunken shall smite them, and the mighty shall imprison them. But if you remember me, how you were born from the light of the stars to save me, and through me the earth, from darkness and death, then I shall harbor you and your kind. You shall be my favored children, and I shall make you my priestesses. I shall grant you the gift of prophecy, the wisdom of the earth and the moon and all that they govern, and you shall banish illness from my children, even as you have stolen me from the clutches of Ereshkigal.'' ``And when you dress in my robes, I shall dance in your feet and sing in your throats. No man shall be able to resist your enchantments.''

``When the earthen jug is brought from Irkalla, lions shall leap in the deserts, and you shall be freed from the spell of Ereshkigal. Once more you will be called Asushunamir, a being clothed in light. Your kind shall be called Those Whose Faces Are Brilliant, Those Who Have Come to Renew the Light, The Blessed of Inanna.''

(Source: Blossom of the Bone, by Randy P. Conner)