Tess I apologize for breaking the law

The Descent of Inanna
by that crazy lady Starhawk

The Storehouse

You are trying to remember something
It teases
your nostrils
like desert dust
Take a breath
Smell the dry air
and the mud
by the irrigation canals
and the moist earth
under the date palms
the play of water in the fountain
in the courtyard
where you walk
Remember your name
Lady of the Date Palm
Lady of the Storehouse
Its gate stands before you
From the doorposts
streamers fly
It is your temple
your body
This place
All comes here
to be gathered, counted
to be given out again
What is it you gather? What do you hoard?
What do you give?

This is a big place
You could get lost here
Searching through dusty corridors
where everything that ever was
still is
Whatever you have lost
you can find here
if you don't
lose yourself
Take care
Call someone to watch for you
Who would come after you
if you walked into danger?
Who helps you? Who cares?
See that person sit beside the gate
to wait
And if you know no one you can call
Ask the Mother herself to guard you
to remember you
and bring you back
Feel her hand touch your hand
Smell the breath of earth
as you push the gate aside
and enter
tess The Storehouse, cont

Inside, it is cool
You reach out your hand
touch the stone
smell the damp
feel the air on your skin
as you walk through dim corridors
Lined with oil jars, grain jars
baskets of dates, figs
pistachios, jars of honey
all the land's produce
You are the storehouse
You walk through your own bowels
room after room
Here are treasures
carved and molded images
precious stones, gold
Here is a loom and a tapestry
and the tattered shreds of history
to unravel and roll into yarn
What will you weave?
Feel the texture
See the colors
Here is the gathered up knowledge
of the ancestors
secrets piled like old bones
Search through them
among them
is the thing you need to know...
And here is a chamber that is yours alone
What do you find there?

There is still somewhere
you are trying to go
You hear a rustle
A snake
uncoils from a basket
glides along the floor
You follow
Deep in the storehouse a chasm opens up
A crack leads down
Put your ear to the crack
Do you hear a call?
Tess The First Gate

When you hear the call
from the Land Below
it sounds both strange and familiar
Like the chorus of a song
whose words you can't remember
Like the promise of a lover
you don't completely trust
Like a dare
It frightens you
Entices you
All the treasures of the Upper World
sunwashed groves
sky-mirroring fountains
hillock land, well-watered furrow
and the moon's narrow boat
All of that seems so shallow
You have heard the call
from the deep

You follow
Take a deep breath
and go down
feeling the weight of your body
as you descend
and the cool stone closes around you
Feel the heaviness of earth
above you
And the snake guides you
Down and down
following the path
that leads
to the Land Below

And at last you come
to the first gate
Look at it
see what it is for you
that walls off the depths
and blocks your way
What does it look like? Feel like?
What's there for you?
In front of the gate stands the
and you breathe deep
and walk forward...
And the figure of the Guardian
becomes slowly clear
You see what it is for you...
human, animal, or some other creature?
You begin to see its body and its limbs,
how it is clothed, its color
You begin o sense its size
smell its odor on the air
You walk closer
Now you see its head, its face, its features
You can hear its voice, you look into its eyes
The Guardian speaks to you...
Breathe deep, and hear what it says

The Guardian says
Who comes to the gate?
You answer
It is I, Inanna
I want to go
to the Land Below
The Guardian shrugs
You're not worthy
You're not qualified
You don't have the right
Who do you think you are?
You say
I am the Queen of Heaven
The Guardian replies
You're in the wrong place,

So you set out to convince the Guardian
that you are worthy of this journey
You list your achievemnets
Your skills
what you have produced, what you have accomplished
what you have stored in the treasure house
what's owed to you
The Guardian looks bored
The gate stays shut
And everything you name seems hollow
Behind you the way back has disappeared
At your feet
even the snake looks dead, torpid
her eyes glazed
You were stupid to come down here
Now you're stuck
Your great achievements
all the things you do
to prove your value
the emblems of your position
mean nothing down here
They all drop away
clatter to the ground
The snake rubs her belly on them
Her skin splits
She sloughs it
sliding free
It lies in a heap like an old rag
She has shed
as you have shed
The gate opens...

Beyond the first gate
you wander
light, unburdened
with the simple confidence
of a cat, or a child
That your life is worth something
Everything you pass, touch, see
is outlined in the clear light
of wonder
that it should be
what it is
You need only be what you are
All that is, has its being in you

Go down
Down and down
Tess The Second Gate

The Second Gate is fear
When you go down far enough
it arises
wearing a helmet, armor
wearing an enemy face
carrying weapons
it blocks the gate

Fear says
Go back
And you hear what it threatens you with
if you go on

Fear says
turn around
And you hear what it offers you
if you obey

Fear says
something you alone can hear
and you know what it is


To go on
you must take off your clothes
Lay down the cloak that keeps out the cold
and the shield that turns the spear
and the armor that turns the arrow's point
Take off your breastplate and helmet
Fear doesn't go away
but you walk toward fear
And the gate opens

Past the Second Gate you dance
fearless in the open
your skin one living organ
that embraces air
Tess The Third Gate

The Third Gate is silence
Earth eats sound
The Dead have no voices
And somewhere
you have lost yours
Words arise in you
songs, chants, poetry
pushed upward like fountains
by the shifting weight of
but find no outlet
Springs dry up

What keeps you silent
is a voice
that has stolen your voice
and sings continuously
in a low drone
that you are, indeed, alone
Even the snake has disappeared
the damn thing only hisses
To pass this gate
you must sing
Emptiness echoes around you
No one will hear you
But you breath deep and call
Your breath becomes a sound
that tries to fill the echoing caverns
and fails
and tries
Sing your own name
Sing the names
of helpers, lovers,
ancestors, children
names of power
Keep on singing, keep on making
even as your sound dies away
in the dark
and your throat hurts
from the stranglehold
of silence
Keep calling
Until at last
your call is echoed
from Below
And somehting comes through you
that blasts silence into pieces
they lie on the ground like
discarded jewels
The gate opens
You pass through singing
You have found your voice
and all that lives
sing through you
Beyond the Third Gate
Music weaves the fabric of the world
Tess The Fourth Gate

All that singing has made you thirsty
All the shedding has left you hungry
Down here
You find no food, no water

The Fourth Gate is need
You are ravenous
inside you is a cavern
that cannot be filled

This is the Gate of the Give-away
Pass through here to be
To make way for something new

When you are empty
you have nothing to give
but yourself
Give yourself away
Say good-bye
to the body
soft touch of skin on skin
smell of wet earth
birdsong, drumbeat
sunlight, color
Good-bye, good-bye

You can bring nothing through here

Rip open your skin
Throw it over your shoulder
Carry it through
the open gate

Past the Fourth Gate
You follow a river
that flows backward and forward
at once
Tess to be continued tomorrow, with the Last Gate and the Return. 991231
Q For your breaking the law, I weep, smile and offer head and hand and everything to defend you from all slings and arrows with all the might I have to bare for you. 000101
Tess The Last Gate

You come to the Last Gate
You have no senses left to see it, feel it
But you know it's there
You know what it is
And who sits before it
The Guardian says
Who passes this gate
Does not return
But how could you go back now anyway?
Nothing but bones and a rag of skin
What more could you possibly lose?
Your memories
Says the Guardian
Give them up
Let them go
They fall out of you
like ripe fruit
old rotting meat
grain and seed
lie in the dust
before the gate
Nameless, memoryless
You pass through

The old rag of skin
they hang it on a meathook by the gate
The bones
they are scattered, lost
This is the end of it all
All comes down to a dead meat
hanging on a wall
And below you march the Dead

They come in an endless procession
And some come old, eager for rest
And some come young, raging
And some come sick, and weary
And some come riding in battle formation
And some come screaming from wounds of torture
And some come empty-bellied and stick-legged
And some come burned
And some come in the great glut of wat
The procession winds like a snake
They pass by you, every one
And there's not one damn thing you can do about it
You are the corpse on the gate

Your sister
is Queen of the Dead
She is more powerful than you
You know that, now

She swallows them all
the starved, the poisoned
the bombed in their crowded hordes
They make her stomach hurt
She moans
Oh, my belly, my heart
They are her children
She cries for them

Look into her eyes
They are your mirror
They are your own eyes

Feel your belly swell
gorge unwilling
until you think you'll burst
And still the killing goes on
and they come
the Dead in their endless lines

You have lost yourself
but you are not lost
You have forgotten yourself
but you are not forgotten
Somebody waits for you
If you have ever known help
remember it now
help is coming
If there is anyone
who would follow you down
to danger
bless them now
for here come two strange creatures
They have no sex, they have no gender
They approach the Queen of the Dead
where she moans
Oh my belly! Oh my heart!

Oh your belly! Oh your heart!
They cry
She looks up, surprised
She does not expect sympathy
She is moved, she weeps
Her tears join the river
that flows both ways at once
The Dead are flooded out
Who are you? What do you want?
Sweet creatures, I will give you anything!
Says the Queen of the Dead

We want nothing
They say
But the corpse on your gate

Take that old rag, and welcome to it

You are lifted
You taste honey
on your tongue, the Food of Life
between your lips, the Water of Life

The Queen of the Dead gives a great cry
Her belly ripples like wheat in the wind
You are blown away
Swirling, spiraling
around and around
You are eaten, swallowed
In her belly all souls dance
You dance too
in rhythm with
the round of the stars
and the atom's frenetic beat
the swirling clouds, the rain
they running flying creeping crawling things
the swimmers and stalkers and shapers
all dance
back and forth, in and out
death and rebirth
You hear voices far away
They sound strangely familiar
Bear Down! Push!
The world contracts. You are shaken,
She's crowning!
Look! Here it comes!
You slide free

Beyond the Last Gate
you are reborn

This is the mystery of the Round Dance
Birth. Death. Rebirth.
What you have learned is that no one escapes
What you have learned is that
everyone returns
and renewal
comes as the Vulture
taking all that has been wasted
to feed
what circles and soars
Tess The Return

You slide free
and float down the river
that flows both ways at once
Your newness
almost unbearable
the colors of everything so bright
each sound so clear
each smell so sharp
The river carries you
What has been born in you?
What new thing do you bring back from Below?

The current washes you up on shore
On the bank you find
baskets of old fruit, grain, seed, memory
Sort through them
Which do you take back? Which do you need?
Which do you transform or discard in the river,
food for the trout and the water strider?

Dive into the river, let it carry you again
Let the swirling water knead you into form
What form do you take? How will you satisfy your hunger
now that you have tasted
the Food and Water of Life?

Swim to the banks. Raise your voice. Hear its power.
What songs will you sing of your journey?
What words do you bring back from Below?

Look down
On the grass is a pile of armor, weapons, clothing
They were yours once
Do you need them now?
Which will you take back with you?
How will you protect yourself?
How will you clothe yourself when you return?

And your skills, your knowledge, your achievements
They line the banks like a litter of coins
How will you carry them now? What will they mean to you?
What new understanding do you bring to them?

The river twists like a serpent
Blink your eyes
They river is the snake
She has shed
She is new, iridescent
She emerges through the crack
You follow her
leaving the passages Below
coming up
into the storehouse
Examine its treasures with new eyes
Is there a gift for you?
Something to bring to the people?
Walk past the corridors, the oil jars, the grain jars
the baskets of dates, figs, seed
Place your hand on the door that opens out
Say goodbye
and emerge
into the sunlit courtyard
Someone is there to greet you
Thank your helper
Tell your story
Look at the courtyard with new eyes

The fountain in the center is the holy well
of water from the river that flows both ways at once
The flame on the altar is the earthfire, hearthfire
They story woman winks at you
and you remember
that you are not alone

Stretch out your hand
Feel the living edge
Of another being
We have all descended
We have all emerged
The bigges things
In the universe
Are circles
of light
Anarchist circles
They refuse to obey
the laws of gravity
By those laws
they should fly apart
but they hold together
So can we

Hold on

Holding together
we can hold on
to the memory of who we really are
and no barrier can contain us

Holding together
in the circle
We can bring the dead lands
Water of Life
We become healers
The flame burns to warm us, feed us
in the center of where we are

Where we are is the center

All our paths
are spokes of the wheel
what's it to you?
who go