Officially we entered the season of Spring this week. However, the storms continue to pummel the East Coast with snow, ice, and grid outages. Seasons are transitions within our life. They flow from one to the other bringing light and then darkness. Between the light and darkness are shades of twilight and dawn. One season slowly encapsulates us in darkness while the next brings us gently back to life.
The ancient Greeks used stories and myths to help people understand complex concepts of gods, good and evil, light and dark, and love and hate. Most of those stories we can gain great spiritual and psychological insight. For instance, the story of Demeter and Persephone gives us much insight into our own cycles of grief, loss, recovery and joy.
According to Greek literature, Demeter was the fertile goddess of growing plant life. She made everything grow. Demeter had a daughter whose name was Persephone. Persephone was beautiful beyond belief and she loved to be out and about playing in her mother’s gardens. Demeter delighted in Persephone’s laughter and two of them were very close.
Then one day, Hades the god of the underground, came and stole Persephone. Demeter looked and searched everywhere but could not find Persephone anywhere. Demeter became sick with grief. Demeter lost her ability to eat or sleep. She did not bathe, appeared unkempt and sat in her own filth. Because of Demeter’s deep despair, the crops died and the land became barren. Demeter did not care. She was obsessed and absorbed in her search for Persephone. Anyone who has lost someone who they are closest too can relate to that internal nausea, darkness, and total inertia to take one more step. We need some allies when grief takes over.
An older wiser woman, named Hecate, heard that the crops were dying and the land had become barren. She sent her ambassador out to the land to investigate the problem. Rumor came back to Hecate that Hades had stolen Persephone and taken her to the underground. Hecate, herself, paid Demeter a visit and shared that Hades had abducted Persephone to the underground. Demeter was enraged with this news. She did not understand how this could have happened or how anyone could be so cruel. Her all-consuming grief turned into boiling anger within her bosom. She took her anger and went to the chief God Zeus. She demanded that Zeus make Hade return Persephone from the underground. (Zeus and Demeter had a very complicated relationship which is another story for another theme.)
Zeus agreed to demand that Persephone be returned only because the people were ready to revolt as famine was taking over all the land and people were starving. Zeus was superior to Hades so this should be no problem, right? However, as we know, people in power look out for themselves.
Persephone was like her mother. She had been grieving in the underground and was quite emaciated. When Zeus told Hades to release her, he asked Hades if Persephone had consumed any food while she had been with him. Hades too wicked to just volunteer that information asked Zeus, “Why do you need to know if she has eaten or drank anything while she has been here with me this past six months?” Zeus told Hade, “The rules declare that if she has not consumed anything she never has to return to the underground. But if she has consumed something from the underground then she must return to the underground every year.” This was great news for Hade because it meant he could still have Persephone part of the year to himself. So, as Hade was preparing to release Persephone he stopped at the pomegranate tree by the exit chamber. He forced the juice of the pomegranate tree down Persephone’s throat against her will. Even though she fought with all her heart she was too weak to prevent the seeds of the pomegranate from going down her throat. Six seeds were swallowed and as a result Persephone had to return to the underground six months out of the year. Now you know the story of how winter came into existence.
Use this part of the story to do your personal work. Allow yourself to take this next couple of weeks of this slow transition toward spring to reflect on what you are grieving. What have you lost along your way? How has your inner land become barren and cracked from the lack of passion and desire? Have the Nor’easter’s of your life have buried you deep within the darkness and made you feel that you will never experience the sun’s warmth on your back again? What is your Persephone in your life right now? Who has taken her from you? What battle must you wage to get her to return?
Journaling will help you identify what is going on within your inner being, your soul. Making time to write is a gift you give yourself. Making time to take yourself seriously and provide solace and comfort to that which disturbs you is a necessary step in self-care and gentle recovery of your joy.
Take Advantage of This Opportunity
Come and learn and play inside your unconscious April 21st, 2018.