I spent a few hours this morning at Nathan Homestead to see an exhibition of paintings inspired by the Goddess Inanna by Agnes Ishak.

It was such an honour to meet Agnes Ishak, Assyrian, born in Iraq, who has lived in Aotearoa since the ’90’s. She feels the deep pain of her motherland where so many of the ancient artfacts and ruins have been destroyed in the years of war.

Agnes feels a deep connection to the Goddess Inanna (or Ishtar) and is on a mission to bring Her to the public’s notice as a symbol of peace and tolerance.

Many of the paintings tell a story of displacement, of the pain of refugees told they have to leave but have nowhere to go, the abuse of women (and men), the ruins where once stoof ancient monuments and buildings that inspired and spoke of a deep connection to the earth, the ancestors and the knowledge and wisdom of past civilizations.

The paintings are prayers to Inanna (Ishtar) to be present and to reign in these times again.

Shaft of Light

Ishtar, the song of all time,
you live in our hearts over the ages.
Your light shines over the hills,
illuminating our eyes,
to connect the past with the present.

(Agnes Ishak)

Inanna was the principal deity of ancient Sumer and was later revered by the Akkadians, Babylonians and Assyrians under the name Ishtar.

The paintings are “a call for the awakening and rising of Inanna to break free from the deep under the ground, after thousands of years, stuck behind seven gates. A call to connect and interact with our past and learn about the messages that our ancestors have left for us through art, structures, buildings, symbols and myths …” (from Agnes’ book about her art)

I too have a deep connection to the Goddess Inanna and have worked with the myths surrounding Her since the 1980’s. In 2003, I performed my play, Kur, that told Inanna’s story interwoven with my own, which I had been working on for 2+ years.

Inanna, Godess of love and sensuality

In the story, Inanna, Queen of Heaven and Earth journeys to the Underworld, Kur to see her sister Erishkigal, Queen of that Dark realm. To get there Inanna must pass through seven gates, at each She must remove another layer of Her finery so that She finally arrives in the underworld naked.

My understanding of Inanna’s story is that it is a story of letting go the masks we wear to protect or bolster us in the world. It is a story of going deep within ourselves and reconnecting with lost neglected, forgotten parts of ourselves. It is a story of rebirth, of returning to the world of Light with a deeper authentic inner authority and a sense of our place in our own lives and in the universe. Like the ‘Hero’s Journey’ illuminated by Joseph Campbell, Inanna’s task back in Her realm is to share the cycle of death and rebirth She has experienced and the wisdom She has gained.

Jacquie as the Goddess Inanna in ‘Kur’

After the play, I spent the next two years running Heroine’s Journey workshops. Over the last decade I have felt a call from Inanna many times to work with Her story again.

I, like Agnes, believe Inanna is as relevant now as she was 4,000 years ago.. She has depth, power, leadership qualities and a connection to Her sensuality and sexuality as a woman. She can inspire and challenge us to step into our own Inner Sovereignty

Perhaps Her time has truly come. Agnes – let’s keep talking!

I would love to hear your thoughts