Befriending the Feminine — Myths, Mysteries, and More

In my previous post, “Open the Gates!” — Inanna, the Female Sex, and the Venus Archetype | Astrology and Myth, I wrote about my quest for the first deity associated with planet Venus. It’s been almost half a year since I published that article, and my interest in diving deeper into the cycle and symbolism of Venus/Inanna has continued. What happened in the past six months?

Training

When I first learned about the significance and beauty of the geometrical pattern Venus creates through her alignments with the Sun and Earth, I was mesmerized. I soon found Arielle Guttman’s book Venus Star Rising: A New Cosmology for the 21st Century. After reading the book, I signed up for Arielle’s Venus Star Point® Training Program at the end of July. This would be the beginning of an unforgettable time filled with studies around Venus’ cycle and myths.

The dance of Earth and Venus around the Sun creates what is known as the Rose of Venus. It takes eight years to form this magnificent pattern. The Rose of Venus pattern is also called the Pentagram of Venus because when you connect the loops in its center (Venus’ retrograde loops in the animation) in order of their creation, you get a pentagram. ★

This outstanding animation by Hendri Yanto Li, posted on Twitter @hendriyantoli, March 28th, 2019, shows the creation of the Rose of Venus in a geocentric model. Animation shared with permission.

In August, I signed up for the exam to become a certified Venus Star Point® practitioner. What I learned during that phase was much more than it seemed when I started with the training program. The time I spent with the different sections of the exam felt like an initiation. During this part of my studies, I realized the cycle of Venus bears insights much more meaningful than I could imagine a few months back. I finished the training and certification program in October, receiving my Certificate of Proficiency on the 5th day that month.

Social media

I have been quite active on Instagram during the past weeks. In October, I created an account dedicated to Venus and the Venus Star Point system. I invite you to join in tuning into the Venus cycle and its symbolism @venus_star_astrologer.

I also made a few videos, which I uploaded to my YouTube channel Living in Cycles. Among these are a retelling of Inanna and Enki (from Diane Wolkstein’s book Inanna, Queen of Heaven and Earth) and a short video showing you how you quickly find your personal Venus Star Point. This year, I also discovered the Finnish mythology-based Mythologia Fennica Tarot deck and book by Susanna Salo. I made a review about this enchanting deck a couple of weeks ago. Pssst… the review and the deck feature the cosmic egg 🥚.

Ancient mythology

The myths of Sumerian Inanna—the first deity in recorded history associated with planet Venus—have been in my mind since I became aware of them in spring this year. These stories reflect the different phases of planet Venus’ cycle. However, there is no mutual agreement about what story is related to what phase of the Venus cycle. I can find value in all the different associations I have come across.

By now, I have several books and papers about Inanna’s stories. Besides Samuel Noah Kramer’s works, I found a dissertation by Gertrud Farber-Flügge (1973) about the story of Inanna and Enki. This dissertation’s core is a transliteration of the Sumerian text and a German translation. It also includes background information about finding the different pieces of the tablets and the meaning of the word ‘me.’ This kind of work shows you what parts of the myth are preserved, what is missing, damaged, etc., and is, therefore, most valuable when reading modern-day retellings of the stories of Inanna, which for the sake of readability and poetical means, have been more or less modified.

The Adda seal. A hunting god (full-face) has a bow and an arrow (?) over his shoulder; a quiver with tassel attached hangs on his back. On the left hand mountain stands a small tree and Ishtar (full-face) who is winged and armed with weapons including an axe and a mace rising from her shoulders. She is holding a bush-like object, probably a bunch of dates, above the sun-god’s head. The sun-god Shamash with rays, holding a serrated blade, is just begining to emerge from between two square topped moutains. The water god Ea stands to the right with one foot placed on the right hand mountain. He stretches out his right hand towards an eagle, probably the Zu bird who stole the tablets of destiny. A couchant bull lies between his legs and streams of water and fish flow from his shoulders. Behind him stands his two-faced attendant god Usimu with his right hand raised. All wear the multiple-horned head-dresses of deities. © The Trustees of the British Museum. CC BY-NC-SA 4.0.

There are a few direct pointers to astronomical incidents in the myths of Inanna. These are the key to figuring out what part of the Venus cycle the stories refer to. Unfortunately, the translations seem to allow different interpretations. For instance, in the myth of Inanna’s descent, the gatekeeper Neti asks Inanna who she is. Samuel Noah Kramer’s translation (Sumerian mythology: a study of spiritual and literary achievement in the third millennium B.C. Revised Edition. University of Pennsylvania Press, 1972) reads, “I am the queen of heaven, the place where the sun rises.” In Inanna, Queen of Heaven and Earth: Her Stories and Hymns from Sumer, Harper & Row, 1983, a joint work by Diane Wolkstein and Samuel Noah Kramer, the passage reads, “I am Inanna, Queen of Heaven, on my way to the East.” Of course, the latter focuses on poetical delivery, so the part “on my way to the East” is an interpretation of “the place where the sun rises” in Kramer’s earlier work. The Electronic Text Corpus of Sumerian Literature (ETCSL) has “I am Inana going to the east.” William R. Sladek (1974) has “I am Inanna, and (I am going) to the east.” If this is the correct translation/interpretation, it would mean Inanna/Venus is about to transition from Evening Star (ES) to Morning Star (MS). The story would then relate to Venus’ retrograde cycle.

But couldn’t that passage also mean “from the East”? I am thinking of that possibility because of a passage I found in Kramer’s book mentioned earlier. There, the myth includes the lines, “Upon the corpse hung from a stake direct the fear of the rays of fire, Sixty times the food of life, sixty times the water of life, sprinkle upon it, verily Inanna will arise.” This is not part of the translation I found in the ETCSL. But assuming it belongs to the text, the rays of fire are, of course, a reference to the Sun. The number sixty is significant here because it is related to the part of the Venus cycle when Venus is transitioning from MS to ES at her exterior conjunction. Venus goes through two phases of invisibility in one synodic cycle. This is when she meets the Sun. The interior conjunction, where Venus is between Earth and Sun, gives birth to Venus as the Morning Star. The exterior conjunction, when Venus is behind the Sun as seen from Earth, gives birth to Venus as the Evening Star. The occultation of Venus during the interior conjunction, however, is only about a little more than a week, but the time of Venus’ invisibility during the exterior conjunction is, at latitudes close to the place the stories of Inanna were written, around sixty days. Meaning, sixty days, Inanna/Venus is “under the rays of fire.” This part of the story would suggest that the Descent of Inanna is related to Venus becoming the Evening Star after her exterior conjunction.

Ni 368 (Nippur 00368) is the upper half of a large four-column clay tablet artifact that contains a significant portion of “Inanna’s Descent to the Netherworld” in Sumerian cuneiform. The other half is known as CBS 9800, and provides many lines towards the afterlife myth. This tablet was the basis of Samuel N. Kramer’s subsequent translations of the myth. This half was cataloged by Stephen H. Langdon and Edward Chiera as part of an archaeological survey in the late 1800s by the University of Pennsylvania. The tablet is located at the Penn Museum in Philadelphia. This artifact contains lines 3-57 (column I) and 58-84, 89-113 (column II). CBS 9800 contains lines 114-167 (column III), and 168-211 (column IV) of the Sumerian afterlife myth. Source: “Ni 1.368.” OMNIKA (OMNIKA Foundation). April 28, 2019. https://omnika.conscious.ai/artifacts/nippur-368-clay-tablet.

There are other parts of the underworld story that make me think of it being related rather to the exterior than the interior conjunction. Of course, the story could also represent the entire synodic cycle, including both phases of invisibility and the retrograde period.

At this point, I wish I had knowledge of the Sumerian language. Maybe a goal for my next life? If you are versatile in ancient Sumerian cuneiform and have some ideas about the mentioned parts of the story, or if you know some illuminating sources, please leave a comment below. There is also one line in the myth of Inanna and Enki, where it says (ETCSL), “Since she said that she would not yet depart from here for Unug Kulaba, that she would not yet depart from here to the place where Utu…” Unfortunately, the word(s) after Utu, the Sun, is missing. Does it say rise or sets? Of course, this part of the text would be the missing link to know whether the story describes the MS to ES or ES to MS transition!

Well, I’ll stop here with my confusion around the correspondences of Inanna’s myths with the cycle of Venus. I will continue searching for further material on the subject, hopefully getting some clarification soon. And, of course, I will tune into the Venus cycle with much more consciousness than before. I’m sure the mystery will reveal itself at some point.

Rebirthing the Goddess

I mentioned the book Inanna, Queen of Heaven and Earth: Her Stories and Hymns from Sumer, by Diane Wolkstein and Samuel Noah Kramer, Harper & Row, 1983. If you are interested in the stories of Inanna, related to planet Venus, I would recommend getting a copy of this book and starting from there.

Inanna, Queen of Heaven and Earth: Her Stories and Hymns from Sumer, 1983, is the result of the joint work of folklorist Diane Wolkstein and assyriologist Samuel Noah Kramer. Besides stories and hymns about Inanna, and insightful commentaries on them, the book includes many pictures of Sumerian art with annotations.

Here is some background info about Diane, gathered from the Library of Congress (retrieved December 5th, 2021): “Diane Wolkstein, storyteller, author, folklorist, street performer, and feminist scholar. Diane Wolkstein was official storyteller of New York City beginning in 1967. She performed stories in Central Park at the foot of the Hans Christian Andersen statue near 72nd Street and Fifth Avenue. She helped found the Storytelling Center of New York City, training volunteers as storytellers. In 1983, she collaborated with scholar Samuel Noah Kramer in writing “Inanna, Queen of Heaven and Earth,” a retelling of the 4,000-year-old story of the Sumerian goddess of fertility, love and war, which she performed widely. She was the author of two dozen books. Diane Wolkstein was born November 11th, 1942, in Newark, N.J. and died January 31st, 2013, in Kaohsiung, Taiwan, while researching a book of Chinese folk stories.”

I found an interview with Diane Wolkstein by Melissa A Rosati, published on March 27th, 2012, to which you can listen here. In this interview, Diane talks about the Descent of Inanna. She also retells the story of the Courtship of Inanna and Dumuzi.

As an astrologer, I am interested in the person behind a work that fascinates me. Luckily, I found Diane Wolkstein’s birth data, including her time of birth (Astro-Databank, Rodden Rating A). So, we have a timed chart for an author who did groundbreaking work in bringing the myths of Inanna in a readable, poetically pleasing fashion to the attention of the broader public. Of course, what interests me most is Diane’s Venus, the planet associated with Inanna. Besides Venus, I am interested in her Venus Star Point (VSP) because, unlike Venus in your chart, which is about how you outwardly connect with the world and what you seek in others, the VSP is about the creative energy within yourself that wants to leave its mark on planet Earth. Below is Diane’s chart. The Ascendant is at 4°18′ Gemini in the bounds of Mercury (Chaldean as well as Egyptian).

Diane Wolkstein, November 11th, 1942, 6:27 p.m., Newark, New Jersey, US. Scorpio 23°31’Evening Star VSP. Source of birthtime: Astro-Databank, Rodden Rating: A. There is an alternative time, 6:36 p.m, reported by another astrologer in 8/2021. Chart calculated with Planetdance Venus Star Point module.

Diane’s Venus is part of a four-planet-stellium in Scorpio, which includes the ruler of Scorpio, Mars, and the ruler of her Ascendant, Mercury. Most interestingly, Diane is born at the very end of an Aquarius Venus Star Point period, only five days before the beginning of the Scorpio Evening Star VSP phase. Arielle Guttman says that people born a week to ten days before a new VSP lean to be more influenced by the new VSP. Following Arielle, Diane’s Venus Star Point is part of the Scorpio stellium (marked by the eight-pointed star in the chart). This makes her VSP a “triple crown,” the situation where the VSP, Venus, and the Sun are all together in one sign. Individuals with a triple crown VSP are pure archetypes of that Venus Star Point. Diane has an even more pronounced VSP sign because, besides the triple crown, she has her Ascendant’s ruler and the ruler of that triple crown itself in the sign. How did the Scorpio Evening Star VSP’s creative energy unfold itself in Diane Wolkstein’s life?

Scorpio is a water sign of fixed quality ruled by Mars. It is associated with mystery, transformation, and renewal. Death and rebirth are themes closely associated with this feminine sign. Its energy is piercing, going deep down to the bottom of the matter, to the very core of whatever it finds interest in. The Scorpio VSP is about digging deep into the mysteries of life. It is more than appropriate that the mark Diane Wolkstein left in the world—the work she became known for most—is being a midwife to the rebirth of Inanna, the Queen of Heaven and Earth, who goes through an intense process of being stripped of all her powers finally being killed, but resurrected again, now wiser and more powerful than ever. Diane not only researched the myths of Inanna and wrote a book collecting her stories, but she also performed the Descent of Inanna widely, stepping herself into the role of the dying Goddess who eventually is reborn again. How appropriate for the Scorpio VSP!

“I read Inanna’s descent again and again. I was drawn to the story of the woman who gave up, at seven successive gates, all she had accomplished in life until she was stripped naked, with nothing remaining but her will to be reborn.”

Diane Wolkstein in Inanna, Queen of Heaven and Earth (1983)

In the introduction to Inanna, Queen of Heaven and Earth, Diane writes, “I read Inanna’s descent again and again. I was drawn to the story of the woman who gave up, at seven successive gates, all she had accomplished in life until she was stripped naked, with nothing remaining but her will to be reborn.” In the interview I mentioned earlier, Diane says she feels closer to Ereshkigal. She then gives a brief summary of the part where Inanna meets Ereshkigal: “The very last line in the book is ‘Holy Ereshkigal, great is your name. Holy Ereshkigal, we sing your praises.’ So, Inanna, when she goes to the underworld, who greets her, is the queen of the underworld. Not the king, not, you know, Pluto, but in the Sumerian mythology, it’s Ereshkigal—and the word means Queen of the Great Below—greets Inanna and is so infuriated by her because of her great gifts and fame and her accomplishments that she actually—and these are the lines—fastens the eye of death on her, and she speaks the word of wrath against her, and she kills her.”

It is important here to mention that Ereshkigal is Inanna’s older sister. She is often understood as a part of Inanna, her shadow, the neglected side of herself that she has to face and surrender to in order to gain a complete understanding of life, including her own vulnerability. Only through meeting Ereshkigal, her other side, Inanna becomes whole.

And look what I found, a mesmerizing picture of Ereshkigal! Surely, there is no escape from her stare of death! The illuminating poem next to it—a dialog between Inanna and Ereshkigal—is by Katie Heeran. Can you feel Ereshkigal’s rage, anguish, and despair?

Poem by Katie Heeran (AriaPhoenix) April 26th, 2014, on her blog https://eropoetry.wordpress.com/, shared with permission. Picture: Roland Nikrandt | Pixabay.

Btw, Diane Wolkstein started her quest for Inanna in spring 1979, during a Scorpio MS VSP period. Inanna, Queen of Heaven and Earth was published four years later on August 3rd, during another Scorpio VSP period, which would be an ES phase and Diane’s VSP return. Also interesting, when looking at Diane Wolkstein’s Zodiacal Releasing period, is that she had an L2 peak period in Cancer from October 12th, 1982 to October 31st, 1984, when Inanna, Queen of Heaven and Earth was published. Cancer is also the sign of her Lot of Spirit. Right after that peak period, she had a Loosing of the Bond in Aquarius lasting until March 25th, 1986. Since this is not supposed to be a full analysis of Diane’s chart, I will stop here and leave further interpretations for eventual future posts.

A house called Goddess

One theme clearly stood out this year, namely my enthusiasm to go deeper into studying the cycle and symbolism of Venus, which confronted me with my perception of the Feminine like never before. It strikes me that the time I became interested in researching the feminine aspect of the Divine coincided with a third house profection year, the house the Greeks called Thea, meaning Goddess. The third house is also the house where the Moon rejoices. The experiences I had this year broadened my understanding of the meaning of that house. Usually, we relate learning, communication, short-distance travel, and siblings to this house. But doesn’t the Greek name of the third house and its association with the Moon as the primary symbol for the feminine energy point to something bigger?

Names of the twelve places and planetary joys.

The third house is the opposite of the ninth house, called Theos (God), the place where the Sun rejoices, making it the polarity of the revelation through the mind. The third house lies below the horizon, the half of the chart associated with the body and the material realm. As mentioned, this is the house where the Moon is said to rejoice. Originally the Goddess was very much related to the earth. Her way of revelation is through the senses. We can feel her in our bodies. I had a very personal experience of this recently (read below). The third and ninth houses—Goddess and God—are polarities, the One expressed in two. There is a so-called “spiritual” aspect in both, but we try to separate them, thinking only of the ninth house related to spirituality. However, there is a mind-centered and earth-centered spirituality.

I’m beginning to understand how much modern society is imbalanced in understanding and living life. We see the creation’s polarity, diversity, and oneness when looking through the lens of astrology. Sun and Moon, God and Goddess, ninth and third house are two sides of the same coin. The Divine reveals itself through body and mind. There is a reason why body and mind are unified on this earthly plane. Who told you to despise one part of this union?

This year has also pointed me to my ignorance of this imbalance in the culture I grew up in and its impact on my worldview and beliefs. I feel it is time to balance understanding and living life equally through the mind and the senses. Yes, I feel. The body and the physical realm are not our enemies.

The rebirth of the God

If you think, only the Feminine has to face the underworld, you are mistaken. Inanna’s Descent to the Underworld continues with her husband, Dumuzi, being dragged down into Ereshkigal’s dark kingdom. There is an underworld for the Masculine, too!

His heart was filled with tears. The shepherd’s heart was filled with tears. Dumuzi’s heart was filled with tears. Dumuzi stumbled across the steppe, weeping. […] “Take off your holy crown from your head! Take off your me-garment from your body! Let your royal sceptre fall to the ground! Take off your holy sandals from your feet! Naked, you go with us!” The galla seized Dumuzi. They surrounded him. They bound his hands. They bound his neck.

Excerpt from The Dream of Dumuzi, Inanna, Queen of Heaven and Earth (1983), Wolkstein and Kramer

It seems that both, the feminine and masculine aspects in us need to be reborn. The god and goddess in us have to be brought low first and then rise again, now wiser, conscious, and with more compassion for ourselves and others.

Sensing her presence

I want to close this writing by sharing an unusual experience with you I had a couple of weeks ago. Until then, I had been so much in my mind trying to understand what I had studied this year, trying to relate this to my worldview and the beliefs I hold. Choosing what you believe in based on what you think is logical and reasonable is different from believing because of experience. I wrote the text below a week after this unexpected encounter and posted it on my Instagram on December 3rd.

“Sometimes we experience moments that feel set apart from our daily life. Such a moment I had last Friday. After only a couple of hours of sleep after a night shift, I woke up in the afternoon, wondering about the early wake-up. I was answering some emails, having a cup of coffee at the same time when suddenly a 𝒇𝒆𝒆𝒍𝒊𝒏𝒈 𝒐𝒇 𝒅𝒆𝒆𝒑 𝒄𝒂𝒍𝒎 settled in. I could sense it around me and—most surprisingly—in every inch of my body. I don’t recall experiencing anything like it before. It was magical. I looked at the book stack on the floor next to my desk, the bag with clothes that had to be unpacked, and a bunch of other things around me that filled the space. I like my environment clean, organized, and pretty. I hate clutter. That’s why all the things lying around have been disturbing me for quite a while. I am good at making the most out of small spaces, but now it felt the space around me has just become too little. Nonetheless, I gave it another try to make the dozens of books fit into my shelves and clothes into my closet. Amazingly, this time, everything quickly found its place. I went on cleaning, still sensing this deep kind of tranquility and peace. All the time I was rearranging and sorting my stuff, I felt – ceremonial. Finally, I heard her asking, “What do you wish for, what do you need?” I had an instant answer to this question. My mind, however, judged me right away. “Oh, that isn’t anything spiritual!” She replied, ensuring, “Well, that’s what I’m doing. I provide good things, stuff you need.” The next couple of hours with her—still physically sensing her presence—were most delightful and heartwarming.

This experience made me realize how hard it can be to accept and receive blessings. We may expect hardship and misery more often than happiness and ease, even considering such expectations as a sign of spiritual growth and humbleness. However, this evening left me with another thought. Could it be we reject the Goddess and her gifts because of our pride, false sense of worthlessness, or misconception of the Divine? She is loving, cheerful, and generous.”

The more I become aware of how differently the Divine has shown itself to me throughout various phases in my life, the more I understand how personal this journey is. My perception of the Feminine is different than yours, and in a couple of years, it will even differ from how I currently understand and experience it. We can only grasp parts of the whole at a time. This year, I began to see the hostility towards the Feminine in culture and religion throughout modern history, and most importantly, in my own head.

I don’t talk here only about womanhood, but about the Feminine in all of us, no matter how you identify yourself. There are parts within us we have neglected and banished because they don’t fit the picture of women and men that was presented to us, which I now see resembling more a caricature. This year, I became friends with the Feminine, the whole of her, of myself.

Thanks and wishes

I’m coming to the end of my last blog writing this year. I thank you all for reading and following along as I explore the mysteries of the Divine. We are at the turn of a new year for which I wish you, above all, peace of mind. Also, it’s getting cold. So make sure you keep your hearts warm.

Sindy 🕊️

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Sindy 🕊️

Astrologer | Hermit Soul | Keeper of Faith | 🇫🇮 🇬🇧 🇩🇪

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