Inanna’s Journey: Courageous Descent into the Shadowy Underworld

The ancient tale of Inanna, the Sumerian goddess, is not merely a narrative but also a symbolic portrayal of the “Great Round,” a principle stemming from Jungian psychology that mirrors our own journeys of transformation and personal development.

In the eyes of Jungian theory, the Great Round signifies an ongoing, cyclical process of growth, where self-discovery and self-realization intermingle, eventually leading to the union of the conscious and unconscious realms of our psyche. It encompasses various stages, each symbolizing different facets of our psychological experiences and human condition, such as the cycles of life and death, consciousness and unconsciousness, creation and dissolution, and growth and decay.

The Descent of Inanna captures the essence of the Great Round vividly. Inanna, the Queen of Heaven, embarks on a transformative journey into the underworld. Her descent is akin to a metaphorical death or surrender. It’s her brave plunge into the unconscious, her ‘shadow’ as per Jungian terminology.

Once in the underworld, Inanna comes face to face with her sister Ereshkigal, an encounter that ignites her internal transformation. This meeting embodies the interaction with her shadow, the confrontation with the unconscious, which is a critical component of the Great Round.

The shadowy depths of the underworld strip Inanna bare, removing her royal attire and reducing her to her most primal self. This disrobing symbolizes her shedding old roles, identities, and patterns, marking a rebirth or re-emergence. At the end of her descent, she has acquired new wisdom and understanding, completing the cycle of the Great Round.

But the story of Inanna doesn’t stop here. Like the perpetual motion of the Great Round, Inanna’s journey, too, is continuous. The cycle of her descending to the underworld, confronting her shadow, gaining wisdom, and emerging transformed happens over and over again.

This cyclical process, which is the heart of Inanna’s story, echoes our own life journeys. We, too, dive into our personal underworlds, grapple with our shadows, gain insights, and re-emerge transformed, only to start the process again in our pursuit of wholeness and understanding. The Great Round, thus, symbolized by Inanna’s journey, represents the archetypal process of human transformation.


Inanna’s Odyssey into the Shadows of the Underworld offers an inspiring journey into the depths of our unconscious. The saga underscores the transformative power of self-compassion and the courage it requires to embrace and transcend our shadows, leading to personal growth and spiritual awakening.


  1. Inanna, Queen of Heaven and Earth: Her Stories and Hymns from Sumer by Diane Wolkstein and Samuel Noah Kramer
  2. Sumerian Mythology by Samuel Noah Kramer [1944, 1961]