10/28/2008

Goddess of the week - Ereshkigal

Name: Ereshkigal
Sphere of influence: The Underworld
Location: Mesopotamia
Famous portraits: The portrait on the left is quite famous - but it is not a hundred percent certain that is a portrait of Ereshkigal.

Ereshkigal was the goddess of the land of the dead for Sumerians and Akkadian, Irkalla. She is described as dark and terrifying - befitting her role. She is the daughter of Anu and sister of Ishtar.

She appears in the texts of Ishtar's descent to the Underworld - one of the more famous Mesopotamian texts there is - but also in another that describe her meeting with the plague-god Nergal.

There are different versions of this story, but the main theme is that Nergal comes to her domain and a mutual attraction arises. When he has to leave her realm she gets really upset and threatens to let the dead return to earth and the living if Nergal is not returned to her. He comes back and rules Irkalla together with the goddess - in some later versions he just takes her as his wife and rules himself.

As a goddess of the dead she received offerings made to the dead. Her main shrine was located to Cuthah.

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