Thursday, June 17, 2010

Demeter+Persephone: A Merging of the Goddesses

I'm transitioning right now. I can't explain it any other way. Whole sections of my life are altering themselves and there is something poetic and inevitable about it. It's almost completely out of my control and for the most part I just kind of sit back, detached, an unconcerned spectator to the spectacle. Ever so often some thing happens that jars me and forces me to pay closer attention. So now I am.

Years ago I developed a strong interest in goddesses. There is something about the goddess that strongly resonates with me. Years ago I was reading some book about goddesses and in it I found some throw-away footnote on Persephone and Demeter. I was intrigued by their story. I immediately did more research and found that Persephone's story really spoke to me in a way that I can't express adequately with words. Persephone, the innocent, Persephone the beautiful, abducted and held against her will in the dark Underworld. And Demeter, the giver of the grain, grieving for her daughter so deeply that she would deny life. I didn't know why this story had such a profound effect on me. Now, years later, I do.

A Summary

Persephone is the goddess of the underworld in Greek mythology. She is the daughter of Zeus and Demeter, goddess of the harvest. Persephone was such a beautiful young woman that everyone loved her, even Hades wanted her for himself. One day, when she was collecting flowers on the plain of Enna, the earth suddenly opened and Hades rose up from the gap and abducted her. None but Zeus, and the all-seeing sun, Helios, had noticed it.

Broken-hearted, Demeter wandered the earth, looking for her daughter until Helios revealed what had happened. Demeter was so angry that she withdrew herself in loneliness, and the earth ceased to be fertile. Knowing this could not continue much longer, Zeus sent Hermes down to Hades to make him release Persephone. Hades grudgingly agreed, but before she went back he gave Persephone a pomegranate (or the seeds of a pomegranate, according to some sources). When she later ate of it, it bound her to underworld forever and she had to stay there one-third of the year. The other months she stayed with her mother. When Persephone was in Hades, Demeter refused to let anything grow and winter began. This myth is a symbol of the budding and dying of nature. In the Eleusinian mysteries, this happening was celebrated in honor of Demeter and Persephone, who was known in this cult as Kore.

"Persephone." Encyclopedia Mythica from Encyclopedia Mythica Online.

You Are the Greek Goddess Demeter
You are an Earth Mother, provider of delicious food and beautiful children. You prefer the company of the young, but you have a decided wanderlust, which makes being tied down lead to periods of depression. You are conscientious, law-abiding, and spiritual.

This above description is cheesy as hell but I added it for a reason. I was talking to someone recently and I attempted to describe myself in a way that illustrated the difference in the way that the world sees me and how I see myself. I said "People see me as an Earth Mother type....I love to cook and bake.....I love kids and want to teach them..." so when I saw this I was struck by the similarities between the perception of me and the description of Demeter. Demeter is nurturing. She brings life to the world. She is maternal. She is fiercely loyal. She feeds you and fucks you and does whatever it takes to make you happy. If you had asked me just six months ago to describe myself I would have used many of these same words. Without my knowing it Demeter and I were connected. I was living her energy. I was expressing the Demeter archetype without even realizing that I was. I poured every bit of my available energy into other people, other things, wearing the perfect mask. Somehow my psyche got tired of it. Expressing Demeter has caused me forgo myself and my own needs, my sense of self, my sexuality, my swag. I love the Demeter parts of me but my life had been so consumed with her that I wasn't even important enough to warrant an afterthought.
In my opinion, anytime a schism occurs between dual parts of ourselves the neglected part is going to make itself known, in small ways at first, and the longer you ignore it the worse the acting out will be. I'm quiet and introspective. I pay attention to myself. But it still took time to notice the other part of me, calling out. I needed to pay attention to Persephone as well.


Persephone may be young and innocent and beautiful but really, when you boil her story down to its essence, Persephone embodies desire. She is so desirable that Hades, god of the Underworld, cannot live without her. He wants her so much that he will risk the wrath of the gods and the death of the world, to control her. Hades, who has certainly been around the block a time or two, is said to be drawn to her innocence and beauty. What must it say about Persephone that Hades, who has certainly seen it all and done the rest, would go to such lengths to have her?

I wanted to express my own inner Persephone. I wanted to be sexy and beautiful. I wanted to be spoiled and cherished. I wanted to be a part of that insane lust, that mad desire, that intense pursuit, that domination. I wanted to find all of that craziness for myself, in myself. It was time to let Hades come take me.

Isolation and Possession
In order to really experience and manifest Persephone energy you have to throw yourself into it. Nothing can get in the way. You have to become isolated and fully possessed. In some way you have to become almost childlike in your devotion to yourself. Self becomes everything. I made sure to pay as much, or more, attention to not just the things that I needed but to the things I wanted. I didn't give a shit if you liked it. I explored everything with to excess and with complete abandon: food, wine, books, orgasms.

When I think about that time now I realize that it could not and should not last. No That kind of selfishness was as destructive to me as my previous self-neglect. My dual parts, Persephone and Demeter, needed to merge. It took time and a real conscientious effort but now I can express both goddesses equally. They have merged in a way that makes my life fuller. I can focus on me, as well as all the other responsibilities that comprise my life. I'm happier for it and more fulfilled.

This is my Persephone/Demeter story and I this is how it played out for me. Others may have another archetype from which they need to work. Just make sure that whatever is going on with yourself that you pay attention. There is nothing really hidden from us if we take enough time to look.


Dea della Luna said...

Thank you for sharing!
Blessings xXx

Laura in NYC said...

I love this! I'm also fascinated by that story. Who did the painting of her and the (Hades) with goat horns?

Califia's Lap said...

Hello Dea Della Luna. Thanks so much for visiting my page. I appreciate it so much.

Hello to you Laura in NYC. I'd like to thank you for visiting my webpage, as well. I'm not sure who did the painting of Persephone and Hades but the I can tell you how to find it online. I did a google image search using the term Persephone and Hades and it popped up. I love it because it captures the essence of their relationship. Pay close attention to her face. She looks both afraid and ecstatic, don't you think?

Thanks again ladies for coming by and checking out my blog. I love writing about the goddess in all her forms so I will definitely be posting more.

Anonymous said...

Persephone does not embody desire. The desire is Hades' alone. He projects his desire upon her. She does not desire him. That would be the embodiment of desire. Unless, of course, you are supporting the patriarchal idea that the female's secret desire is to be kidnapped and forcibly raped against her will (which is what hades' forcing of the pomegranate through her clenched lips represents). That's not sexy.

Persephone is the embodiment of the female's fulfillment for herself, by her self, with her self. Persephone wanders the fields, admiring the beauty and wonder of nature. That is sensuous and spiritual. Unfortunately, too many people do not know the subtle difference between these states of being and sex, particularly americans.

Hades' desire, like all violence and rape, is for power - to possess, to control. That's not sexy. That's just abuse. That's how perpetrators think. They are developmentally delayed sociopaths unable to participate in the true and beautiful relationship of equal, consensual sexuality. So, they resort to force to get their way and always choose victims far more vulnerable than themselves.

I am not in accordance with your idea that that's sexy. It's actually really quite icky.

Kaitlyn said...

Hello. I'm Kaitlyn, 16. For the past couple years i was in a relationship with a guy i was OBSESSED with. Eventually, he showed his true dumb boy colors and he left me. I was broken, until i got advice from an wiser woman, who helped me move on and learn more about myself. Since that time ive been noticing changes within me. i felt more powerful, more sexy, more... desirable, and at the same time more friendly, and more mature. I've always been drawn to Persephone, ever since i learned about her years ago. I see so much of her within me. And i also see Demeter's traits as something i may become in my future. Im making some big changes in my life at the moment. moving 800 miles away from home, and my old life. i feel as though im going through this transition. The way you describe Persephone... is exactly how i feel right now. And in an odd way what you said, "Afraid yet ecstatic" makes perfect sense to me. Ive experienced this before. Can you help me understand whats going on with me????

Califia's Lap said...

@ Kaitlyn- I wanna say thank you so much for leaving me this comment. I'm so impressed with your insight about yourself. Many people, much older than you, don't know themselves as well as you do and that is an amazing thing. So you and Persephone are very alike, huh? From what I can see from your comment I can definitely see similarities. My perspective is limited, of course, because I've never met you but you seem to be on a journey of some kind. Not only are you literally going on a journey and moving 800 miles (!!!) away but you also seem to be on an internal one as well. You and I definitely have that in common. I think that women go through certain cycles in which change is inevitable and inescapable. It seems like that's what youre going through right now, that transition to adulthood that is tough but inevitable. You mentioned a guy you were obsessed with. I'm happy you were able to get out of that situation. When the time is right and when you know more about yourself then you will find the guy for you. One thing about Persephone is that in many ways she is still a child. People are making her decisions for her. She is without a voice that completely expresses who SHE is and what SHE wants. I related to her on that level especially because I often felt like my life wasn't my own. Maybe that's what you're going through right now. If it is dont let it worry you at all. That time will pass and it will pass quickly. Make the most of it by learning about yourself. You're still young and have to follow rules that you may not have set for yourself. Still it's a good idea to follow them. But whenever you can try to express yorself as safely and joyously as you can, without fear.

Kaitlyn said...

Thank you so much for helping me understand this more. Im continuing to learn more about myself every day. Ever since i moved away i feel like im finally free to be myself and just have fun. I just finished the divine seires by P.C. Cast and was left breathless by the powerful modern day mythology story (which in many ways expressed what im learning about myself) however one thing im really struggling with is my religious belief, which has been virtually non existant my whole life. I've recently moved in with my mom and she is christian. She has been tring to rub her beliefs off on me but i just dont feel the same passion she does for it. I feel like this makes me a bad person. Im not sure what to believe. I actually sat down one night and prayed (to whomever might be listening) to give me some sort of sign as to what to believe. Nothing happened. I feel lost, and worried i will make the wrong choice.

Anonymous said...

This is SO interesting. Honestly, I enjoyed reading every bit of this, both for the story of Demeter and Persephone and for your own story. I like your perspective and what you learned from it. Very honest and real. Thank you so much for sharing!