I’m so glad you’re here. I have a story I want to share with you. You may have heard it before. It’s about the Greek Goddess Persephone.
There are so many renditions of this story. Persephone, daughter of Demeter (goddess of the Earth, harvest and all things alive and growing) was abducted by Hades, God of the Underworld. Persephone had been playing in a field with some nymphs, probably picking flowers with her long, white arms, when Hades opened up the ground beneath her and dragged her down to hell. Just like that.
Persephone’s mother, Demeter, was horrified. Of course. And since Demeter governed all things that grew and sustained people, she was not to be trifled with. The enraged mother went straight to Zeus. Demeter had pull with Zeus because the two deities had some history. In fact, the gossip around Olympus was that Zeus was Persephone’s father.
Demeter gave Zeus an ultimatum. Not wanting to waste time by asking nicely, Demeter stopped all things on Earth from growing and told Zeus the world would simply starve if her daughter was not returned.
Eventually, Zeus complied. He ordered Hades to let Persephone go. She was returned to her mother, and the barren Earth came alive with blooms and vegetation as Persephone resurfaced. But, since Persephone had eaten some pomegranate seeds (possibly four) while in the underworld, she was doomed to return to Hades once a year for a season, each seed in her belly representing a month, perhaps. During Persephone’s annual visit to hell, the Earth goes barren (winter) until the maiden queen’s return to Earth (spring).
I love this story. It explains so much: the difficulty of winter, the redemption of spring. But I also like to look at the myth in a different way.
Persephone, when she descended to Hades each year, was the Queen of the Underworld. She decided who came and went (just ask Orpheus) and lorded over her domain, gritty as it was.
What if Persephone’s story is not one of victimization, sacrifice, and tragedy?
What if Persephone’s story is one of difficulty, power, and redemption? Persephone loses everything. She then makes hell her own beautiful domain, her Queendom. She returns annually, as to a second home, then is reborn again and again.
All women suffer and recover. What if Persephone’s story is a template for the journey into darkness that so many women experience and return to, literally and mentally, again and again? What if the power and understanding that the descent affords us can be seen as something beautiful and powerful?
It was when my family and I first moved to Sugartown, nearly two years ago, that I first saw her. She rides around town on her wheel chair. She leans slightly to the left as she goes, her long, unkempt hair trailing from her slightly tilted head. She smiles as though she’s having a ride in a paddle boat, her lover at the helm. All that’s missing is the parasol.
“How is it that this woman is beaming?” I used to wonder. There I was, fretting about this and that and chicken again tonight, and there she was, in her own personal heaven, in a wheel chair, cruising along a main road, with no bike lanes.
A few months later, the ground opened up beneath my feet. After my own journey to hell and back, I now know what the wheel chair lady sees. After nearly losing everything, after being dragged down to Hades, the beauty of ascension is in every moment.
Four seeds in the wheelchair lady’s belly. Four seeds in mine. Four seeds in yours, perhaps. My seeds are for harvesting inspiration, renewal, beauty, and love. This little blog is where I’ll plant little tidbits for the enjoying and the sharing. And don’t worry, my posts won’t be as long and serious as this one. Hopefully you will taste some, enjoy some, and pass some on. See you soon.
Oh, and for fun, here’s Walt Disney’s “Silly Symphony” version of the Persephone myth. It’s fantastically operatic and full of nice dancing and melodrama…