Can We Honor Inanna and Her Gifts? by Judith Shaw

Judith Shaw photoSpring has arrived and my garden begins to emerge once more.  The world greens and blooms all around, reminding me that Mother Earth remains constant in Her desire to bless us with Her bountiful abundance. I am also reminded of Inanna and Her love for humanity.

Inanna, Goddess of Heaven and Earth, a Sumerian Goddess who encompasses all aspects of life, was greatly revered by the  people of Uruk as she brought them the gifts of civilization.

Inanna painting by judith shaw

Inanna in Her Boat of Heaven, pastel and beeswax on paper

This part of her story begins when she visits her father, Enki, God of Wisdom.   As they share drinks and a meal, Inanna proceeds to drink Enki under the table.  Once he’s well into His cups He gives Her the sacred me, the gifts of civilization.   Inanna rejoices as she claims these gifts for Her people, gifts such as:
kingship, the divine queen priestess,
the art of the hero, the art of treachery,
the rejoicing of the heart, the art of lovemaking,
the craft of the builder, the perceptive ear,
fear, dismay,
the kindling of fire, the making of decisions.

Inanna gathered the me, which embrace all aspects of human civilization, the light and the dark, and set out for Uruk in Her Boat of Heaven.

Inanna and the gifts painting by judith shaw

Inanna and the Gifts of Civilization, watercolor and ink on paper

Shortly after her departure, Enki begins to sober up and regrets having given the me to Inanna.  He sends out his wild-haired creatures,the enkum, to retake the gifts from Inanna.  Inanna with the help of her servant, Ninshubur, fights the enkum in five separate attacks.  Inanna is victorious.  She arrives in Uruk to the cheers of her people, giving them the me, the gifts of civilization.   Enki was reconciled to the event, proclaiming the people of Uruk as allies to his people of Eridu.

And yet in these times, we the people seem to be thwarting the blessings of the Goddess.  At first glance we appear to be abundant with things, energy, experiences. But in our mad desire for more and more and always more we neglect the balance of the very earth who provides us with all. We upset the balance which is inherent in maintaining and honoring the gifts of the Goddess.

We clamor for more oil from Canada with the new Keystone XL project. The raw product extracted from Alberta’s tar sands is different than the oil we’ve been extracting for years.  It isn’t in liquid form.  The tar sands are mined using strip-mining techniques which leave the land, our Mother devastated.  Furthermore, to remove the oil from the tar sands, extensive extraction, separation and refining are required, making the cost in terms of both dollars and environmental impact at least 20% greater than traditional oil sources.

(Tar sands mine in Alberta credit: Peter Essick/National Geographic)

(Tar sands mine in Alberta credit: Peter Essick/National Geographic)

In 2010, a pipeline carrying this oil from Alberta’s tar sands burst near Michigan’s Kalamazoo River.  This site is still being cleaned with a current cost of $800 million and rising.

With the new pipeline, Keystone XL proposes to transport the oil directly over the Ogallala Aquifer, an enormous  underground lake of water that extends from South Dakota to Texas. The Ogallala Aquifer provides drinking water for millions of people and irrigates  20 percent of America’s agricultural harvest. An oil leak into this aquifer would have devastating effects on residents, businesses and farmlands in the Great Plains.

Even if this project created good, long-lasting jobs, which it doesn’t; even if it made us energy independent, which it doesn’t, since it would provide only 5 percent  of U.S. oil needs; is it worth the price we have to pay in destruction to the Mother who gives us life?

And the new monster in our modern arsenal of technology is fracking.  Fracking or “hydraulic fracturing” is a process used to extract natural gas from shale rock layers deeper within the earth than we have ever gone before. In this process millions of gallons of water, sand and hazardous chemicals are blasted at high-pressure into these sub-surface rock formations allowing the extraction of this once unattainable gas.

Many dangers are posed to our Earth with this process. The most common problem involves the disposal of the toxic sludge waste. In 2010, in Pennsylvania alone, there have been 31 fracking-related pollution violations at 20 wells. But even more troubling is the fact that between 20 to 40 percent of the chemicals remain trapped underground where they can contaminate drinking water.  And perhaps the most troubling fact is that the water used in this process, once sent below the sub-surface mantle of the earth, remains trapped there forever, never again to be part of the ever constant cycle of water evaporation and precipitation which fuels life as we know it.  Are we willing to use up all the water the Mother provides in order to continue this life style of consumption?

Inanna queen of heaven painting by Judith Shaw

Inanna, Queen of Heaven, oil on canvas by Judith Shaw

My heart cries.  Our Mother cries.  She, who we worshiped in ancient times, we now assault daily with our methods of extraction and our release of toxins.  We have now reached 400 parts per million of carbon dioxide to oxygen which has never been experienced by human beings. Scientists tell us that this level will create an environment which does not support human life.  We stand on a precipice, with the means at hand to move forward in harmony and balance or to continue on the same path of extraction, destruction and ultimate extinction.

May we gaze on the beauty of Inanna as She, in Her love for humanity, brings us the gifts of civilization.  May we understand the need to honor and protect Her, our Mother Earth, on whose well-being our well-being is dependent.  May our hearts and our minds be opened to a new way of being in which we leave behind the role of conquerors and once more claim our place as Her children and Her protectors.

Judith Shaw, a graduate of the San Francisco Art Institute, has been interested in myth, culture and mystical studies all her life. Judith makes art, dances with abandon and experiences the world through travel and study. Her work, which expresses her belief in the interconnectedness of all life, can be seen on her website at

Judith’s deck of Celtic Goddess Oracle Cards is available now.  Celtic-Goddess-Oracle-cards-by-judith-shawYou can order your deck on Judith’s website. Experience the wisdom of the Celtic Goddesses!

Categories: Activism, Climate Change, consumerism, Earth-based spirituality, Ecofeminism, Goddess, Myth

8 replies

  1. It’s hard to look this environmental devastation in the face, to look at how we are scarring our Mother Earth, how we a fouling the one and only home we have. But we not only have to look at this problem, but become much more active in turning back these crimes against us and our future. Write a letter to Obama and your newspaper (he hasn’t decided on Keystone). Get involved in Join the Sierra Club’s “Beyond Coal” campaign. Put up solar panels on your house. If you’re buying a car, buy a Prius. Let’s stop this craziness.


    • So very true Nancy. We all need to do the most we can to stop the insanity and protect our Mother Earth. Grow a garden, compost, sign petitions and if you are brave enough put your body on the line.
      I just read that the government of British Columbia said no to the pipeline the oil company wanted to build to the Pacific. Good on them – now we must do the same.


  2. Reblogged this on Journeying to the Goddess and commented:
    “May we gaze on the beauty of Inanna as She, in Her love for humanity, brings us the gifts of civilization. May we understand the need to honor and protect Her, our Mother Earth, on whose well-being our well-being is dependent. May our hearts and our minds be opened to a new way of being in which we leave behind the role of conquerors and once more claim our place as Her children and Her protectors.” ~ Judith Shaw


  3. This was hard to read, but so important. Thanks.



  1. Inanna and Her Gifts | Judith Shaw - Life on the Edge
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