Venus is a planet that has been tracked by many ancient civilizations for thousands of years. Humanity's fascination with her is palpable and can be seen across cultures. Venus is associated with the Goddess of love, beauty, sensuality, sexuality, divine justice and abundance, her Greek name is Aphrodite. but what many don't know is that Aphrodite has much older origins. The ancients often attributed a God or Goddess to the stars and planets, adding myth to their movements. Venus' first attributed Goddess was the ancient Sumerian Goddess Inanna, she was the first incarnation of Venus, Inanna is also the Babylonian and Akkadian Goddess Ishtar. It is said that Venus came down to Earth from the heavens as a woman, Inanna, therefore she is the personification of the planet Venus. Inanna/Ishtar was one of the most worshipped and revered goddesses of the ancient world, she was known as the "Queen of Heaven" and many temples were dedicated to her across Mesopotamia. Her cult flourished until the first to the sixth centuries AD when Christianity swept the world, patriarchal religions grew and the Goddess along with her temples and teachings were destroyed.
Her most popular myth written in the form of a poem 'Inanna’s Descent to the Netherworld / Underworld' begins like this “From the great heaven she set her mind on the great below. From the great heaven the goddess set her mind on the great below. From the great heaven Inanna set her mind on the great below. My mistress abandoned heaven, abandoned earth, and descended to the underworld. Inanna abandoned heaven, abandoned earth, and descended to the underworld." (I can't help but notice how this correlates to the disappearance of the Goddess after patriarchy took over). Inanna decided to go into the Underworld in order to extend her power there, where her older sister Ereshkigal
'Queen of the Underworld' resides.
When she arrives at the gates of the Underworld, Inanna tells the gatekeeper, that she has come to witness the funeral rites of Ereshkigal’s husband. When Ereshkigal receives this news, she is not at all pleased, and ordered that the seven gates of the Underworld be bolted against her sister. Inanna is only allowed to pass one gate at a time, and before each gate, she is required to remove a piece of her royal garment.
By the time Inanna reaches the throne of Ereshkigal, she had been stripped naked, and was powerless. Inanna is then killed and remains in the Underworld for 3 days and nights until her father Enki sends help, Inanna is then reborn and returns to Heaven, as she crosses each gate, she is given back each piece of her royal garment. But Inanna is never the same, she has been transformed. Her descent was an initiation into the mysteries of Life and Death.
In this myth, the movements of Inanna correspond to the movements of Venus in the sky, as she too, descends and ascends. Some cultures thought of Venus as two different stars due to her setting in the west when she is on her Evening Star phase and rising in the East when she is on her Morning Star phase. But the Sumerians and Mayans knew it was the same planet as tracking Venus was extremely important to them.
Inanna's crossing of the seven "gates" refers to the Venus-Moon Conjunctions that happen when Venus is in her Evening Star phase of Ascent and Morning Star phase of Descent. A Venus-Moon Conjunction is a gate or portal into greater spiritual power, transformation and Divine Feminine healing. Each gate of descent in the myth represents something that Inanna had to give up, sacrifice or shed from her being. Each gate of ascent represents what Inanna gained back or a gift she was given as a tool for reclaiming her queenship and sovereignty.
Therefore, each time we have a Venus-Moon Conjunction when Venus is on her Morning Star phase we are given an opportunity to release and shed a part of us that's stuck in illusion, limiting beliefs, trauma and whatever is holding us back from achieving our highest potential. In turn, when we have a Venus-Moon Conjunction with Venus on her Evening Star phase we are given the opportunity to reclaim our power, sovereignty, purpose and potential. We all must descend in order to ascend, and this motif is seen across myths of Gods and Goddesses across the world.
The seven gates not only correspond to each Venus-Moon Conjunction in the sky but also to our seven chakras (energy centers). When we look at the myth as a map to the body and our inner self, the descent represents the clearing of each chakra as we travel from the crown (heaven) to the womb (underworld) where our shadows, suppressed emotions and trauma reside waiting for us to go and release them. The ascent represents the activation of a virtue for each chakra as we travel from the Underworld (womb) back to Heaven (crown).