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The Myth of Inanna

Adapted from Pam England’s “Ancient Map for Modern Birth” 

by Sio Tepper, Jenna Tico, and Joseph Velasco

Performed by Jenna Tico

     In discussions leading up to the project, we considered different themes and motifs that would ground the film in some way but we were still missing something that could tie the film together.  Then Jenna sent us a copy of the "Myth of Inanna."  Upon reading this ancient text we knew this  story could become the frame of the film as it spoke to the darkness we all faced in 2020 and are still coming to terms with.  When the LAByrinth Project SB was first conceived, Jenna had been asked to be a part of the film as a dancer but she was quite pregnant at the time and she politely declined. 

     However, by the time we got around to filming, she had given birth to a beautiful baby boy and crossed the threshold into Motherhood.  We were not deterred as we still wanted Jenna to be part of this process somehow. After her son was born it made sense to ask her to read the myth as the narrator.  After all, she had been in her own labyrinth and come out the other side.  We are so pleased she agreed as her voice has a gravitas which gave our film a center to work from.

Below is our adaption of the text.

Inanna’s Descent

For all of us who survived 2020...


“Inanna’s Descent” as it has come to be known, is the oldest story ever written. A story that takes twists and turns through a labyrinth of darkness. What treasures may we find should we accept the journey to the secret depths?


Inanna was a woman of power, 

a warrior, a queen, 

a poet, 

the priestess of seven temples. 

Inanna heard her Call 

from the Great Below. 

She knew that answering it 

would disrupt her life’s rhythms,


and bring uncertainty. 

Like hearing a drum beating in the distance, 

it’s possible to ignore such a Call 

for a while, 

but they persist until answered. 


So when Inanna’s heart was ready, 

she accepted her Call and began preparing for her inner journey.


Inanna’s first task of preparation 

was to abandon her seven temples. 

Her next task was gathering seven royal articles 

imbued with power that would offer her protection 

as she journeyed through the unknown. 


Inanna dressed for her rite of passage in her finest royal warrior clothes, 

arranged her hair and donned her crown. 

Around her neck, she tied a lapis necklace and blessing beads. 

To protect her heart, 

she tied on her warrior breastplate. 

Over her hand, 

she slipped a gold bracelet. 

Around her shoulders, 

she wrapped a royal robe. 

Lastly, she took up her lapis measuring rod and ring.


Inanna called on her trusted advisor, Ninshubur, 

to help her prepare 

for her descent 

into a place 

from which no one returns 


Fretting the worst to happen, 

Ninshubur tried to talk Inanna out of answering her Call, 

but Inanna would not be deterred.


Although they had fought side by side in other battles, 

Inanna knew she had to fight this one alone. 

She also knew she could trust her faithful advisor 

above all others 

with the task of ensuring her safe return. 


Inanna said, “My dearest friend and advisor, 

if I do not return in three days by my own efforts, 

go to the three wise elders 

and ask them to help me complete my return. 

Do not abandon me in the underworld.”

Having completed her Tasks of Preparation, 

Inanna walked away from the comforts of her ordinary life to begin her journey.


After many days 

Inanna arrived at the First Gate of the underworld. 

There Bidu, the Gatekeeper demanded, 

“Who are you?”


“I am Inanna,” she answered, 

“Queen of heaven and earth. 

I am a poet, warrior priestess, and wife. 

I have learned the body ways of birth, yoga, herbs, dances, and breathing.

Let me enter.”


Bidu asked, 

“Why has your heart led you here, 

to a place from which no one returns 


or unscathed?”

Inanna answered,

“I have been called by the One.”


“And who is the One?” Bidu asked.


“The One calls from down below.  

It is no-body…

and yet the Call is strong / for they are coming.”


As Inanna crossed the first threshold, 

Bidu took her crown. 

Inanna protested, 

to which Bidu explained, 

“The ways of the underworld are ancient and proven. 

Its ways may not be bargained away or questioned.”


Inanna continued her descent through a dark labyrinth

Gate after gate, Inanna encountered Bidu, 

the Gatekeeper. 

Each time, Bidu asked Inanna, 

“Who are you? 

Why has your heart led you to this place, 

a place from which you will not return 



Each time Inanna passed through a gate 

Bidu took something of value, 

something she had brought or worn for protection, 


or as a sign to let others know 

she was special. 

At the Second Gate, 

Bidu took her lapis necklace and blessing beads. 

At the Third Gate, 

he took her breastplate. 

At the Fourth Gate, 

he took her royal robe, 

leaving her cold and naked. 

At the Fifth Gate, 

he removed her gold bracelet. 

At the Sixth Gate, 

he took her shoes. 

And at the Seventh Gate, 

he took from her hands the lapis measuring rod and her ring.


With each small loss, the queen protested, 

“It isn’t fair! 

Give it back! 

I didn’t agree to this!”


Bidu reminded Inanna, 

“The ways of the underworld are ancient and may not be questioned. 

Keep going, Inanna. 

Find out who you truly are.”


Gate by gate, 

Inanna descended deeper and deeper 

into the underworld. 

The underworld was unfamiliar. 

She did not know her way. 

Only her resolve lit the path 

through the dark and twisting labyrinth, 

across thresholds of mercy, terror, and doubt.


Naked, humble, 

sweaty, and exhausted, 

Inanna crawled on her hands and knees toward the last threshold. 

She had given her all. 


Finally, she arrived at the Seventh Gate. 

The Gatekeeper had seized everything 

except for the one thing he could not take: 

Inanna’s determination to do what needed to be done next. 

Reaching deep inside herself, she mustered up a great push, 

and then another 

and another 

until the Gatekeeper opened the last gate.


And there, in the deepest, 

most sacred place of all, 

she saw the one who had been calling her 

and who was still calling to her, 


Her newborn baby. 

And all at once, in this moment, 

the person Inanna had died. 

In the next breath, 

Inanna the Mother, 

had been reborn.


Three days and three nights passed. 

Inanna was suspended between two worlds. 

She could not make it home. 

Honoring their agreement, 

Inanna’s advisor, Ninshubur, went to the elders. 

The third elder, Enki, god of Waters and Wisdom

created two allies in the form of moths.

They flew unnoticed down through the labyrinth

And past the seven gates

Until they found Inanna.

They revived her with the Water of Life and the Food of Life 

and she thanked them.


Once she had gathered her strength, 

Inanna began to hear another Call, 

this time from the Great Above, 

to return to her life. 

She began her slow ascent

With her child.


At each gate on her return, 

Bidu asked, 

“Who are you? 

What do you know now 

that you did not know 

before you made this descent?”


Innana replied each time, 

“I am the giver of life...I am whole.”


At each gate, 

the Gatekeeper took from Inanna 

something that belonged to the underworld. 

At the First Gate, 

he took self-absorption from her 

and gave her gratitude. 

At the Second Gate, 

he took worry 

and gave her relief. 

At the Third Gate, 

he took sleep from her 

and gave her stamina. 

At the Fourth Gate, 

He took the pain of her past

and gave her renewal. 

At the Fifth Gate, 

he took the weight of blame 

and gave her understanding. 

At the Sixth Gate, 

he stopped her mind from spinning

And gave her clarity

At the Seventh Gate, 

he took her pride 

and gave her humility. 

At the Eighth Gate, 

Bidu took her gathering basket 

and turned her attention inward. 

At the Ninth Gate, 

he lifted the weight of this story 

and gave her wisdom.


The warrior-priestess 

who had left on this journey 

was surely not the one who returned, 

for the descent 

into the labyrinth of the underworld

and her return 

had transformed Inanna’s Body, 



and Soul.

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