by Hazel Loveridge
Inanna was the deity revered as the planet Venus in ancient Sumer, located between the river Tigris and Euphrates, in present-day Iraq. Known as Ishtar to the Accadians to the north, she held an enduring appeal for the people of ancient Mesopotamia, her cult lasting nigh on 4000 years. She was goddess of love, sexuality and war.
Accompanying her brother Utu the sun god, appearing now at twilight now at dawn, she governed the borderlands, the magical, liminal realm between day and night, darkness and light. Radiantly beautiful yet bloodthirsty and voracious, impatient yet serene, callous, heartless yet loving spouse, it’s easy to see why Jacobsen refers to her as ‘of infinite variety.’(1) But before embarking on an analysis of the cultural icon that is Inanna, a brief introduction to Sumerian cosmology and cosmogony is in order.