This is a very ancient myth from Sumeria dating back to 3,000BC
It is a story of courage, initiation, and transformation.
Inanna, the beautiful young woman from Uruk, is blissfully happy, married to Dumuzi, with 2 sons. But one day she begins to hear a voice which calls her to descend into the underworld to visit her sister Erishkagal. She tries to resist it, but the call grows louder until at last she gives in and prepares for a life-changing journey.
Before she bids her beloved Dumuzi farewell she asks her faithful friend Ninshubur, should she not return in 3 days, to visit the God Enki and beg him to help.
She goes and knocks at the outer gate to the underworld and is told that she will have to give up one of her 7 most precious possessions at each of the 7 gates as she descends. Eventually after a terrifying descent she arrives at the very heart of the underworld, naked and with nothing.
Erishkagal, the Queen fastens the eye of death upon her, she is struck down, and her body hung up on a hook.
When Ninshubur, waiting patiently in the Great Above finds that Inanna has not returned she goes and implores the God Enki for help. With great compassion he sends the gifts of the water of life and the food of life down to the Great Below carried by tiny little creatures. They sprinkle these on Inanna’s body and she returns to life.
She makes to return to the Great Above but is told by the 7 demons that no-one emerges from the Great Below unchanged, and she must find a substitute. She chooses Dumuzi as he has apparently forgotten about her. He tries to escape but the demons come and carry him away. Inanna and Geshtinanna (Dumuzi’s sister) grieve for him and eventually they find his body.
Geshtinanna offers herself as half of the necessary sacrifice, she will take his place in the underworld for half the year. In this way when Dumuzi is in the underworld their love will lie dormant and it will be as Winter. When Geshtinanna is in the underworld then Inanna and Dumuzi will be re-united and their love will be rekindled and it will be as Summer.
This arrangement is acceptable to Erishkagal and she orders the 7 gates to be opened and Inanna ascends. At each of the 7 gates she is given back one of her precious possessions.
She emerges into the Great Above with wisdom and insight.