Inana: Sumerian Goddess of love, fertility and war

Inana is the most important goddess in the Sumerian Pantheon. She is the goddess of love, fertility and war. Inana is also the queen of heaven and earth. Her Babylonian equivalent is Ishtar.

Similar to Ishtar, she visited the underworld, the domain of her sister Ereshkigal. She did the complete ritual of divesting a piece of clothing at each of the seven gates, including her priestly office and her sexual and royal powers. She was then promptly put to death and became part of the underworld.

Both Enlil and Nanna refused to get involved but Ea took pity and created the sexless creatures Kurgarra and Galatur from the dirt under his fingernails. Being sexless, they were allowed entry into the land of infertility. They sympathized with Ereshkigal's endless pain of continued rejection and convinced her to release Inana for their efforts.

When the reborn Inana emerged fromm the underworld, only her faithful handmaiden was waiting for her. When she reached the temple she was aghast to find her husband Dumuzi having a ball and in vengeance appointed him as her substitute in the underworld.

Dumuzi was dragged off to the underworld by the demons that accompanied Inana from the dead. His distraught sister offered to share his sentence and Inana granted them eternal life and death. Half the year Dumuzi lived with Inana whilst his sister took his place in the underworld. The milk flowed, crops ripened and the trees blossomed. The other half he had to return to the underworld and everything died.

Important sanctuaries of Inanna were in Uruk, Zabalam, and Babylon