Inanna-Ishtar, Isis, Mary Magdalene – Recovering the Lineage of the Lost Goddess and Other Stolen Stories

Inanna-Ishtar, Isis, Mary Magdalene – Recovering the Lineage of the Lost Goddess and Other Stolen Stories.

‘If you want to be spiritual, ask uncomfortable questions,’ Goddess News, Spiritual Blog, Divine Feminine,

Dr Joanna Kujawa, Spiritual Detective :).

Goddess News

This blog is intended as a follow up to my earlier blog Isis, Mary Magdalene, Dark Madonnas as the archetypes of the ‘Other’ Goddess

In my research on Mary Magdalene I have found many unusual links to feminine divinities of the past. It is almost if Mary Magdalene, throughout the ages, has become a focal point for lost goddesses and their presence in our lives. Despite the tragic and untrue ‘confusion’ about her status as a ‘prostitute’, there is a link in this to ancient, sexual ceremonies of sacred marriage. The stories of the resurrection of the young king  in the presence of a Goddess  (which seemed so uniquely Magdalene) have been previously recounted ages ago in Ancient Sumer, Babylon and Egypt – with a Goddess as a resurrectrix. And they all seem to lead to the Sumerian Goddess Inanna, also known as Ishtar (in Assyria) and Isis (in Egypt).

These stories were perpetuated for centuries and eventually re-used in the Bible. By ‘re-used’ I mean  that  much older versions of the same story-lines were included  in the Bible  but without the female component which had featured in a prominent way in original versions.

The story of Inanna the Sumerian goddess is at least 4300 years old and is mostly known not only through archaeological discoveries but also in a far more sophisticated way – through the poetic hymns of Inanna’s High Priestess, Enheduanna, the daughter of King Sargon of Sumer.

But who was the Goddess Inanna?

According to Sumerian stories, Inanna was the great granddaughter of the gods An and Ki (and there are interesting possibilities relating to extra-terrestrial beings here which I might discuss in future blogs if you are interested). She was a goddess connected to the Tree of Life and the resurrection stories, several hundreds of years before the Biblical Genesis was written. For comparison, Enheduanna’s hymns to Inanna were written at least 500 years before Abraham was born and the worship of this goddess can be dated back to at least 3500 BCE.

Betty De Shong Meador, the author of Inanna Lady of  Largest heart. Poems of the Sumerian High Priestess Enheduanna, found that both the imaginative Van Dijk and mainstream scholars such as Simo Parpola connect the origins of the Tree of Life to Inanna. In mythical tales and sculptures, Inanna is often portrayed with a ‘reed post’, which is interpreted as a symbol of ‘the ultimate point of orientation’ connecting ‘heaven and earth’. This image implies a very positive spiritual interpretation of the unification of the earthly and the spiritual through the Goddess and mentions no sin or punishment.

For the Sumerians, as a Goddess Inanna was a unifying force between all deities, a force which cancelled out the debate between monotheism and polytheism. She was All, both the ‘curse’ and the ‘blessing’ as the translator of Enheduanna’s Hymns to Inanna, Meador claims. And she is the ‘divine matter’ from which all Life has sprung, which also makes her the Divine Mother – and she was worshiped as such.

And being All, she was both light and darkness and quite capable of mischief. It was she who stole the ‘Me’ – the Sumerian tables of Law and civilisation from Enki, according to Joy F. Richard in Celebrate the Divine Feminine: Inanna. This story is very similar to the Biblical version of Jacob stealing the ‘blessing’ from his brother, except that, again, this version happened much earlier.

Other researchers, such as Richard (2013), say that Inanna was often depicted with lions at her feet to represent her power, which brings to mind the Hindu Goddess Durga.

Inanna has had many incarnations and represented several archetypes apart from the Divine Mother (associated with fertility). She was also the Warrior Goddess (like the Greek Athena) or the Lover Goddess not ashamed to show her sensuality and delicious erotic high for her bridegroom and beloved, Dumuzi.

For example:

He shaped my loins with his fair hand … filled my lap with cream and milk,

He stroke my pubic hair,

He watered my womb,

He smoothed my black boat with milk,

He caressed me on the bed  The Courtship of Inanna and Dumuzi

A far cry from  Adam and Eve, shamed by their naked bodies!

These pleasures were not only Inanna’s. Her temple priestesses, Richard says,  participated in ‘sacred sexual acts to ensure the fertility of the crops’  when the priestess were engaged in a ritualistic love making with the chosen men.

The application of the title ‘sacred prostitute’ has been just another way of demeaning this ancient Goddess that preceded Biblical stories. In the fourth century Saint Augustine and other neurotic patriarchs called fertility rituals an ‘abomination’; these men misinterpreted what they did not understand. I tend to believe that other, much later, association of the Divine Feminine with prostitution, such as the myth of the Gnostic Sophia and, even later, Mary Magdalene as a supposed ‘prostitute’, were made from the remains of ancient fertility rituals associated with sacred marriage, or Hieros Gamos. So, ironically and not intentionally, those Christian patriarchs connected Mary Magdalene with the ancient goddesses.

There are other connections between Inanna and Mary Magdalene. The strongest of them is the notion of resurrection.

It is not known how old the notion of resurrection is but it is certainly older than Christianity itself.  Joseph Campbell in Goddesses: Mysteries of the Feminine Divine, says that he has often lectured on the old topic of the pre-Christian stories of resurrection in Jesuit seminaries – and no one has been surprised! They already knew the story, Campbell admits, but they believed that Jesus’ story was ‘more unique’. I am not sure what this means exactly, except that perhaps the same story has been repeated in the Cosmic Consciousness, with historical figures re-enacting  over and over again until we fully understand its meaning.

In Inanna’s story, she descends into the Underworld to attend the funeral of her sister’s husband – one of the rulers of the Underworld. But after Inanna reaches the Underworld, she is not allowed to return and dies. However, through the divine intervention of the God Enki, her grandfather, she is brought back to life but needs to find replacement for herself. She chooses her beloved Dumuzi, who, in her absence, has usurped her throne. Eventually, Dumuzi, too, is allowed to return to earth but only in the spring and summer; in autumn he must die again (Richard 2013).

Another version of this story was re-enacted in Ancient Egypt, in the persons of Isis, Horus and Osiris. And in Ancient Greece, in the story of Persephone and Demeter (mother and daughter), complete with the same ending and partial resurrection. And again, most notably, in Christianity in the story of Jesus and Mary Magdalene, who both anoints Jesus and finds him resurrected.

So why was Mary Magdalene’s role as the High Priestess and Bride diminished in the canonical Gospels?  Apart from being due to the general misogyny of the times, that is.

Independent Irish researcher Michael Hearns in his book, Mary Magdalene – The First Pope, has an interesting theory. Hearns argues that the position of Mary Magdalene as the High Priestess was encoded in the description of the events of Jesus’ Resurrection but that this knowledge was available only to those who knew how to interpret the events.

Hearns argues that even the canonical Gospel and the Gospel of John in particular, include this encoded message regarding Mary Magdalene. After Mary Magdalene tells the disciples that the body of Jesus is not in the tomb, Peter and (presumably) John run to the tomb.  They see nothing but Jesus’ clothing wrapped up in a bundle (John 20:6), so they leave. However, Mary stays behind and firstly sees two angels and then, as she ‘turns herself back’,  she sees Jesus but does not recognise him (John 20:11-14).

Hearns claims that this description is an encoded acknowledgement of Mary Magdalene as the High Priestess, as the setting of the story mimics the setting of the Holy Tabernacle in the Old Testament, where regular priests (such as Peter) can only enter the first room of the tabernacle. Only the High Priest can enter to the Holy of Holies, which houses the Ark of Covenant, with two angels ‘sitting on either side of the Lord’s seat’.

In the Gospel of John, it is only Mary Magdalene who sees the two angles and the Resurrected Jesus and thus she, in an encoded text and only for those in the know, represents the High Priestess – the only one allowed access to the Holy of Holies.

I love this interpretation as it aligns with the Gnostic claim that Peter only received basic teachings and it was Mary Magdalene who received the secret and esoteric teachings of Jesus. I also love that, despite the way Mary Magdalene was misrepresented as a prostitute by the old patriarchs, they unknowingly, yet again, connected her with the High Priestess of Sumer and all the other goddesses, who through the millennia have played an essential role in the story of resurrection.

This and many other stories combined  an uninterrupted succession of goddesses and high priestesses, from Inanna-Ishtar to Isis to Mary Magdalene, who have resurrected not only themselves throughout the millennia but who also make the story of resurrection alive for us.

Inanna thus not only appears to be the first Cosmic Goddess of great complexity and sophistication but also a source of a variety of interesting archetypes of the warrior goddess, the sensual goddess, and the mother goddess. In all of these archetypes she speaks to us about our power, potential and great complexity – a much more interesting possibility than the slightly unreal mother archetypes preserved for us in the Western religious traditions of our times.

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Much Love,

Dr Joanna Kujawa

With much love,

Dr Joanna Kujawa

Spiritual Detective

Goddess News

Spiritual Blog

Would love to hear Your comments 🙂

©Joanna Kujawa

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8 Responses to Inanna-Ishtar, Isis, Mary Magdalene – Recovering the Lineage of the Lost Goddess and Other Stolen Stories

  1. Ian Robinson says:

    WOW Sundari!!! How good is this… and how very informative. Thank you SO much for all the research and hard slog you must have put into writing this. I’m very grateful.

    • sundari says:

      Ian, so good to hear from you again :). I am so glad you have found it interesting. And thank you for appreciation. Much love xxx

  2. mhearns says:

    I enjoyed reading about Inanna and how her position as an ancient goddess possibly influenced the gospel writers when they wrote about Mary Magdalene.

    But strangely it was with Mary the mother of Jesus who was perhaps most compromised in the gospel stories where somehow she became pregnant from “on high” and this Immaculate Conception was attributed to divine intervention. It placed Mary in a very vulnerable position because she would have been open to shame and ridicule as an unmarried mother, a position that women in her situation suffered until recent times. The term unmarried has given away to single mother but I doubt if that politically correct terminology would have meant anything at the time of Mary. However, the evidence suggests that the elite priesthood had prepared for this position with the single Mary getting pregnant where they had written the compromise of several women previously into the script.
    It began with that interlude between Sarai and Pharaoh who was led to believe by Abraham that she was his sister. The same thing occurred again with a king name Abimelech who took Sarai having been led to believe by Abraham that she was his sister. Later Isaac passed off Rebecca as his sister to King Abimelech. In both cases with Sarai and Rebecca the women were compromised by their husbands. Next was the episode where Leah was sent into Jacob in the bridal tent by her father Laban whereas it should have been Rachel, whom Jacob had just married.
    The compromising continued with Jacob’s son Judah whose own son was struck dead by God for behaving offensively to his wife Tamar. As was the custom Judah’s second son then had to marry Tamar but he masturbated in front of her and he was also struck dead by God for doing so. Judah had only one son left but he broke with custom deferring his marriage to Tamer so as not to lose him. Tamar dressed up in provocative clothes and sat in a tent near where Judah was attending his sheep. He thought the woman was a harlot and had sex with her and gave her his staff and emblems until he could find the money to pay her. Tamar conceived and had twins whose birth was almost identical to Rebecca’s delivery of the twins Esau and Jacob. Tamar’s action had saved the Messiah genealogy timeline where her son Perez providing the vital link.

    A harlot named Rehab saved two Israelite spies in Jericho and for that help she and her family were spared when the walls came crashing down and the inhabitants slaughtered. She was named as the mother of one of the men who appeared in both genealogies. It turned out that he was the first baby in the Messiah timeline to be born in the newly captured Promised Land of Canaan and it was to the harlot Rehab. Ruth was the next women to save the Messiah genealogy and appropriately enough, it was at Bethlehem. She was a widow who went to work for an elderly man named Boaz who was unmarried and thus had no children. One night Boaz fell asleep on the threshing floor and Ruth crept up to him and slept at his feet. It was obviously an amorous overture and it worked for they got married and she conceived and became the mother of Obed and the grandmother of Jesse. The story ended where there was a short genealogy, which began with Perez the son of Tamar and it traced the lineage to Boaz, Obed, Jesse and David. So Ruth became the great grandmother of David and notably, Tamar got her just rewards because she was listed at the head of the genealogy and that may have been because she had acquired the staff from Judah.

    Next was beautiful Bathsheba whom King David lustily admired. She was the wife of Uriah but that did not stop David who sent messengers to bring Bathsheba to his palace. He made love to Bathsheba and she was therefore compromised as an adulteress even though she would have had no say in the matter seeing that he was the king. David arranged to have her husband sent to the front line in battle where he was killed. Bathsheba got pregnant but God was angry and the baby died. She got pregnant again and her son Solomon was born.

    Therefore, there were six women who were placed in dubious circumstance by the biblical writers and they were Sarah, Rebecca, Leah, Tamar, Rehab, Ruth and Bathsheba. The seventh was Mary but her husband Joseph was told in a dream of the divine circumstances and so he married her and that solved the problem. There had to be a better way of writing this part of the saga even if it was made out in the story to be a real miracle. But the other women were part of the narrative for they were all part of the genealogies in Mathew’s and Luke’s gospel, which revealed the ancestral lineage of Jesus. The question is why? Joanna can you shed any light on the situation with those seven women relative to your studies on goddesses and fertility from ancient cultures.

    • sundari says:

      Thank you for your comment Michael. And, you are right in that that Mary Magdalene was not the only woman ‘compromised’ in the Bible. My interest in Mary Magdalene is related to her status in the Gnostic Gospels as the learned woman, the Wisdom Herself indeed, with the very special status that women and Goddesses of the past held. The position that was taken away from them. However, in all of these cases, I believe along with Joseph Campbell and many feminist scholars, that the underlying problem was the general misogyny of the times and the writers of the Bible – sorry to say so but why other5wise do they go to such extend to demean and dis-empower women? And why, to replace Her with one sole masculine God – the price of we are still paying in the imbalances in our society as well environmental destruction. The women were not only portrayed in a negative way – they were lucky if the were mentioned at all. Asherah, for example, was Yahweh’s wife but is she present in the Scriptures? She was edited out on the most part and only scholars like Barker manage to retrieve her steps and find the remains of her presence there. But the good news is, the times are changing – including your work 🙂

      • mhearns says:

        Of course the misogyny of the biblical writers was perhaps the greatest barrier to women in western society and the male obsession with sex and sin is unbelievable but that is not what I was referring to with those particular women who were compromised. In those cases it was the women who were the noble ones. For instance, Abraham was far from being a real man when he passed off his wife Sarah as his sister to Pharaoh and allowed the monarch the opportunity to take her for his pleasure. While the writer explained that Sarah was actually Abraham’s sister and it saved Abraham from being harmed or slain, it did not get over the impression that Abraham by his actions was weak and certainly not a role model to be admired. Then he repeated the position again where he passed off Sarah as his sister to King abimelech in case the king might kill him to acquire his beautiful wife. A generation later Isaac passed off his wife Rebecca as his sister to King Abimelech in case he would be slain. Why did the writers tell of these instances at all especially when they showed up Abraham and Isaac as having the courage of mice?
        The episode with Tamer showed how she triumphed over the male preserve where she outwitted her father in Law Judah by posing as a harlot and so got pregnant. In the act Judah gave her his staff and emblems and thus she certainly was on top. When Judah eventually found out the truth, the writer had Judah say that Tamer was more noble than himself.
        There had to be a purpose for the biblical writers inserting those peculiar stories together with the episodes with Leah, Rehab, Ruth and Bathsheba. It left some of the women open to be seen as harlots and they actually had Rehab as a harlot and Tamer adopting the role of a harlot. However, the writers had deflected criticism away from the women by showing them as the noble ones some of whom had little say in the matter. In contrast, the men involved can be seen to be unaware of their responsibilities in protecting women except for Boaz who treated Ruth as an equal.
        This is too bloody complicated to explain but there is a story beneath those stories that needs to be examined. I have tried to explain the lack of a chauvinistic outlook towards those particular women because each of them featured in the two genealogies, which led to Jesus. Had the writers prepared the way so that they could justify Mary getting pregnant by divine intervention?
        It could also be said that one of the writers was a woman who did some editing to give the female side of the stories. But even that does not add up for why included those compromising stories of those seven women at all? I think this is one of the most intriguing elements in the Bible…

        • sundari says:

          This is a very interesting notion, Michael, and worth exploring. I know that there is a book arguing that some parts of the Gnostic Gospels were written by women. Also, Margaret Barker, traces quite well the traces of the lost feminine especially in the Old Testament. So perhaps, this is the work you could continue doing as you did with Mary Magdalene?
          Thank you for your insightful comment,

  3. Desideria says:

    Thank you for your work! I would love to collaborate with you on something. Please contact me at You can check out my websites at and and I also have youtube channels. Hope to hear from you soon! XXX

    • sundari says:

      Thank you Desideria for your comment. I will check your youtube channel when I have a moment. Thank you for connecting – we are already in correspondence via my Public Facebook Page, right? xxx. Much love, Joanna xxx

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