Dance of the Seven Veils
The Entrance into the Underworld
Passing through the Gates
The Dance of the Seven Veils originated with the tale of the goddess Ishtar and the god Tammuz of Assyrian and Babylonian lore. Ishtar decides to visit her sister, Ereshkigal, in the underworld, frequently thought of as the land of the dead. As Ishtar approaches the gates of the underworld, the gatekeeper lets Ishtar pass through the seven gates, opening one gate at a time. At each gate, Ishtar sheds an article of clothing. When she finally passes the seventh gate, she is naked.
Queen of the Underworld
Enraged, Ishtar attacks Ereshkigal, goddess of the underworld; but Ereshkigal orders her servant Namtar to imprison Ishtar and unleash sixty diseases against her. After Ishtar's descent, her absence from the earthly plane causes all sexual activity to cease.
Papsukkal, the messenger-god, reports the situation to Ea, king of the gods. Ea creates and sends the eunuch called Asu-shu-namir to Ereshkigal. Asu-shu-namir invokes "the name of the great gods" against her and to ask for the bag containing the waters of life.
Ereshkigal, having promised to grant Asu-shu-namir's wish, is furious to hear the demand, but gives him the water of life.
Asu-shu-namir sprinkles Ishtar with this water, reviving her. Then Ishtar passes back through the seven gates, getting one article of clothing back at each gate, and is fully clothed as she exits the last gate.
Her release is, however, granted only under the condition that she find someone to replace her in the underworld. Tammuz, Ishtar's husband, has been making merry while she has been dead, and so the goddess sends Tammuz to Ereshkigal.
All Things Esoteric
After many years of teaching meditation, world religions, advanced apprentices with masters, and an exploration of many hidden or esoteric mysteries, the Amarjah Wisdom School offers over 300 short articles to stimulate contemplation or to point the finger in a new direction. We host retreats and seminars throughout the year. Click here for the index.
Myth, Story & Metaphor
When we enter into the unknown, our skills, trust, and abilities are tested. At times we find the journeys of others to be of value, or an archetypal myth provides meaning, or a trusted guide.
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