We all live through the same myths and stories that have been told since the beginning of time, each of us a hero in the retelling of the struggles of eternity and the quest for meaning. Astrology has always been a vehicle of myth, reflective of multiple realities in a single symbolic language.
As we have been going through Venus Retrograde and the Venus Cazimi, that is its journey into the heart of the Sun, I have been contemplating the myth of Inanna’s descent into the underworld. Inanna in Sumerian Myth is the Goddess symbolized by the planet Venus. This myth is the original delineation of the retrograde motions of Venus and its journey into being obscured by the rays of the Sun as it retrogrades, changing from the Evening Star to the Morning Star.
This Myth describes how Inanna is compelled to go to the underworld, where the Goddess of Death, Ereshkigal, tricks her into disrobing and fastens upon her the eye of death. She dies, is flayed, and her body is hung on a meat hook. Her attendant Ninshubur then sets about to save her, and receiving instructions from Enki (Mercury) recovers Inanna and helps her escape the underworld. To escape though, Inanna has to fasten the eye of death on another God. She does so on her husband who then dies.
When approaching understanding a myth Sallustius (a 4th Century Roman Philosopher) in his treatise “On The Gods and the World” suggested an intelligent approach. He noted that of ancient myths some are Theological, some are Physical, some are Animistic, and some are Material. The Theological has to do with archetype, eternal matters. Eternal matters indicate they are a basic function of the universe, his example is how Chronos(Saturn) represents the intellect, as the intellect bears its children and then absorbs them into itself.
The Physical has to do with the energy the myth is describing. In the case of the physical, to not confuse it with matter or the material, it may be better to say the energetic. Sallustius himself says the physical has to do with the all-pervasive energy of Being. For instance, Saturn represents the energy of the soul as Time. Saturn as Chronos or Time generates the archetypes of experience by steady measure, dividing experience into portions, distinct experiences in and of themselves.
Without time, or Chronos, we would not have distinct experiences by which we would measure our being and passing of being. The energy of Chronos is needed then to make distinction between our own lives, from birth to death, as well as the distinction of history and culture. Saturn is an incredibly important component of the experience of life, but because this principle of time involves leaving that with which we have grown comfortable, it is feared.
the Animistic has to do with how myth describes the soul’s journey. The root of the word Animistic is Anima, to animate, or that which animates, indicating how the principle of animation is the Soul, or life force, or mind. The soul is the force that sets in motion. As an example again Sallustius uses Chronos saying: ” Because the intellections of our soul, though by discursive energies, they proceed into other things, yet abide in their parents. Again we are playing with the visual of Saturn eating his own children, while we have discursive thoughts that cause us to engage with the outer world as a container and contents, but they arise within our own mind and resolve into our own mind.
The material has to do with the actual substance of the gods employed or described by Myth. Here we find the bodies of the planets themselves. Is the planet Saturn a God? We know from modern astrophysics it is a material body, but it is an expression of time, Chronos, and the Archetype itself. There is no contradiction here. The Material of the myth extends to correspondences of the deity, such as the sea for Saturn.
In the Myth of Inanna’s descent to the underworld the Theological is expressed in that it describes the ongoing generative and degenerative nature of sensual matter in that Inanna is born, emerges, dissolves, and remerges as all sensual experiences do. This is an eternal process of life and experience, the wheel of life as is so eloquently outlined by Buddhist Philosophy, it is a fundamental way that the universe works.
The Physical is the process where as we age and then die we are stripped away of the vestments of our bodies and their sensual beauty, and as we are born we grow into our bodies and their sensual beauty in an eternal cycle.
In terms of the Animistic, this Myth portrays how a Soul is compelled to shed its skin and attachments to revitalize its own energies, but to do so, it has to let go of its attachments in a continuous process, that is the very foundations by which it might identify itself.
in terms of the Material, the myth describes a process by which Venus cycles the sky in a 584-day cycle where she is invisible for 54 days and visible for two periods of 256 days, one as the morning star, and one as the evening star.
There are many other shades, depths, and symbols we can use to interpret this myth. I hope this example though can give whet your appetite for delving deep into how every myth is multifaceted. They are like astrology itself, scrying mirrors rather than truths. Meant to be explored into the fathomless cave of eternity, one guiding rope at a time. Each Planet has its own method of being divided into myth like this, each revealing itself deeper and deeper the more we peer into the depths of space.
If you would like to explore the myths of your life, book a reading.
In this Blog Post I refer to “Sallust on The Gods and The World” by Thomas Taylor 2017 Strigoi Publishing page 19.