Inanna’s descent (ascent) to the nether world
Inanna, the ruler of the heaven and earth one day set her mind on the nether world. She abandoned her status as a priestess and abandoned the many temples that were built for her. Instead she took with her seven “ME” (divine powers) and proceeded to the nether world.
The nether world was known as “the land of no return”. Once entered, none can leave alive.
Upon her departure, Inanna instructed her minister Ninshubur, “Plead with the deities to save me if I fail to return in three days and three nights”
Inanna arrived at the gate of the nether world where she met the gatekeeper, Neti. Erishkigal, the ruler of the nether world instructs Neti to “close all seven gates and let Inanna open them. At each gate one “ME” should be removed from her one by one”
Inanna was stripped bare of her clothing and of all seven “ME”s. Ereshkigal and her seven judges glared at Inanna with the “eyes of death” that turned her into “weak meat” and Inanna was hung on a hook.
Ninshubur visits the deities and Inanna arises
After three days and three nights, when Inanna had not returned, Ninshubur pleaded to the deities for their help. The deities were unsympathetic towards Inanna’s selfish actions.
Ninshubur visited the last of the deities, Enki, who created from his fingernails two genies, kurgarra and galatur, to whom he gave the “plant of life” and the “water of life”. Enki instructed them to go to Ereshkigal in her sick bed to open up her heart and request for the body of Inanna so they may feed her the “plant of life” and “water of life” to bring her back to life. The two obeyed their orders and Ereshkigal and Inanna both arose.
The premier performance at the “Yama no schule” will end here.
Searching for a substitute
The nether world was “the land of no return”. To ascend from the nether world, a substitute needed to be provided. On her journey back to earth, Inanna was accompanied by demons who planned to take back with them Inanna’s replacement. The demons tried to convince Inanna to give to them her son or her minister Ninshubur as her replacement but Inanna commended their loyalty and refused.
Their final visit was to Inanna’s husband Dumuzi. Dumuzi joyfully sat enjoying his days, with no sign of grieving over Inanna’s absence.
Inanna glanced at Dumuzi with “the eyes of death” and Dumuzi ran to Inannas’s brother Utu crying for help. Dumuzi was disguised as a snake and escaped the hands of the demons for a while but was eventually found and taken to the nether world.
Dumuzi’s sister becomes a substitute
Dumuzi’s sister, Gestin-ana searched for her brother who was taken to the nether world. So Inanna decreed Dumuzi to stay in the nether world for half the year, and for Gestin-ana to take his place for the remaining half.
This is how holy Inanna made Dumuzi her substitute.