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Mesopotamia / Religions / Gods and goddesses /


In Mesopotamian religions, goddess of the underworld, known as Irkalla or Aralu. She was a dark and violent goddess, ruler over the shades, the deity receiving the mortuary offerings given to the dead.
Ereshikigal emerge with Sumerian religion, and seem to survive well through all Mesopotamian religions.
In early myths, her husband is Ninazu, later it is Nergal. Her son was Namtar, the demon (or god) of death.
She forced Nergal to become her consort, threatening to kill all life on earth if he didn't agree. Together, the two ruled the underworld. Other myths make them real lovers, and in order to make the other gods permit Nergal to stay with her, she had to threaten to send all dead back to earth.
Her sister was the goddess Inanna/Ishtar, and in Sumerian cosmogony, Ereshkigal was carried away to the underworld when heaven and earth separated. Although sisters, Ereshkigal and Ishtar were enemies, this representing the conflict of life versus death.
The animosity causes the famous myth where Ereshkigal catches Inanna/Ishtar in the underworld, not releasing her until she sacrifices her husband Tammuz. This is they central myth to the New Year festival. In another version of this myth, Tammuz rests with Ereshkigal half the year, the other half he is together with Inanna/Ishtar.
Together with Nergal, she had her cult centre was in Cuthah.
Her cult would become popular far beyond Mesopotamia, reaching Asia Minor (Anatolia), Egypt and southern Arabia.

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By Tore Kjeilen