“Talking to Inanna” Faces of The Goddess in Art

My short film, titled Finding Inanna: the Goddess Emerging in Art, is an autobiographical journey in images spanning 16 years of personal artwork. Talking to Inanna has allowed me to embody and strengthen the psychological reality of the Goddess within my own mind. By using film as a new vehicle, she is able to continue to evoke, inspire, and empower in a growing digital environment.

The concept to make a film showing the many faces of the goddess emerged from a session of daydreaming. I started by focusing on the description of a tree that I found in the ancient story of Inanna, Queen of Heaven and Earth and then let my imagination take over. The text from the story is, “(Inanna) plucked the tree from the river and spoke: ‘I shall bring this tree to Uruk. I shall plant this tree in my holy garden.'” (Wolkstein & Kramer, 1983, p. 5).

My active imagination session with Inanna and her tree awoke a Goddess in my own mind who is alive, exploring, and interacting with me. Chodorow says Jung’s term, active imagination, is an analytic method based on the imagination and its natural healing properties (Jung, 1997). By choosing to work with the myth of Inanna, I was able to activate a conversation in my mind between the Goddess and myself. Myths are not just ancient stories; Rowland states that Jung described myths as language representations of the ego interacting with the unconscious. Myths have the ability to shape inner dialogs between the ego, concerned with personal identity, and the unconscious, an autonomous and superior arena of the psyche that is the source of meaning and exists between the duality of body and spirit. (Rowland, 2012)

Conversations with the goddess encouraged me to research and draw my own version of the 1980s cartoon, Jem and the Holograms. (“Drawing cartoon inspired by ‘Jem and the Holograms,’” n.d.) A print of this digital drawing was put on display in downtown Santa Barbara and purchased within a few hours by a young female astrophysicist. Our immediate connection through the character of Jem, and the exchange of the artwork, was magical. I realized that with Inanna and Jem I had discovered not just any Goddess but the divine feminine archetype. Rowland states that Yung described archetypes as inherited, but not directly representable, pattern structures in the unconscious. A single image cannot govern an archetype because it has the structuring principle of an autonomous psyche and a potential for multiple meaning formation and images. (Rowland, 2012)

Detail from Jem digital drawing.
Detail from Jem digital drawing.

The experience with Jem and the Holograms led me to the realization that embodying the Goddess, or the divine feminine archetype, is a powerful tool for women working in traditionally male-dominated industries. Looking through my past art with a newly expanded psyche, I realized the Goddess had been emerging for over a decade through my drawings and paintings. She had been helping me to pursue my passions by giving me strength and courage to follow my own path. I discovered patterns in my art of the Goddess floating, flying, and falling on earth, water, and sky. The film began to form in my mind as an autobiographical collection of Goddess images.

Selection of art images used in film.
Selection of art images used in film.

I approached making my film as arts-based research that involved reviewing thousands of years of communication technologies from the simplicity of clay to the complexity of digital media. Arts-based research is an emerging methodological toolset used by qualitative researchers to create new knowledge based on some understanding of the human condition (Leavy, 2008). For myself, this research has demonstrated the mysterious power of the collective unconscious. Rowland says Jung described the collective unconscious as an inheritance of archetypes that all human beings share and have the power to manifest (Rowland, 2012). The images I used in the film range from old to new, from abstract to representational, and from intentional to unintentional. I edited together layers upon layers of Goddess imagery in a rhythmic pattern like different faces of a rotating diamond, displaying a multiplicity of images representing aspects of the divine feminine archetype. (Inanna Goddess Myth, 2014)

Many people feel the need to seek out the divine feminine archetype with a passion at some point in their lives. Henking quotes Downing as saying, “I soon discovered that my search was not mine alone, that in recent years many women had rediscovered how much we need the goddess in a culture that tears us from woman, from women, and from ourselves.” (Henking, 1991, p. 515)

I feel my film, Finding Inanna, represents my intuitive and creative inner quest to talk to the Goddess within me. The synchronicity in selling my drawing of Jem, which was inspired by conversations with Inanna, felt like an affirmation from the Devine feminine archetype herself that we have truly connected. Rowland explains that for Jung, synchronicity means linking events by their psychological coherence. My experience of unity was that a total stranger, who was a female scientist working in the space industry, immediately appeared to purchase the Jem print. I was able to introduce another woman to the myth of Inanna, and I felt as if a cycle had completed. Vandendorpe explains that, for many artists, there is a pattern of finding and releasing the myth on Inanna.

Some women recount having had the feeling of being accompanied by the narrative (of Inanna) for years, of literally living with the myth for until one day the impulse to return to the narrative was gone, replaced by the sudden feeling of being whole, complete, as if an inner need, an inner call had been answered and eventually disappeared.” (Vandendorpe, 2011, p. 95)

In conclusion, my film is now uploaded as a YouTube video for the world to see. It lives as a unique manifestation of the collective divine feminine archetype, directly connected to the myth of Inanna, and free to roam in the modern digital world. I feel happy to introduce people to the myth of Inanna through my artwork. I feel the process of establishing a solid connection with the Goddess within and without is complete. I feel a new sense of self-confidence with my current relationship and understanding of the divine feminine archetype.

Reference List

Rowland, S. (2012). C.G. Jung in the Humanities. Spring Journal, Inc.

Drawing cartoon inspired by “Jem and the Holograms.” (n.d.). Retrieved from http://mitracline.com/2014/09/11/drawing-cartoon-inspired-by-jem-and-the-holograms/

Cline,M. (Producer and Director) (2014). Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PzLRA7g6VXw&feature=youtube_gdata_player

Wolkstein, D., & Kramer, S. N. (1983). Inanna, Queen of Heaven and Earth: Her Stories and Hymns from Sumer (1st edition.). New York: Harper Perennial.

Jung, C. G. (1997). Jung on Active Imagination. (J. Chodorow, Ed.) (later printing edition.). Princeton, N.J: Princeton University Press.

Leavy, P. (2008). Method Meets Art: Arts-Based Research Practice (1 edition.). New York: The Guilford Press.

Henking, S. E. (1991). The Personal Is the Theological: Autobiographical Acts in Contemporary Feminist Theology. Journal of the American Academy of Religion, 59(3), 511–525.

Vandendorpe, F. (2011). When Myth Shows What the Mind Does Not Reach. Storytelling, Self, Society, 7(2), 91–109.