The story of Persephone eating pomegranate seeds was related like a fairy tale in place of the original myth; Ovid speaks once of three, once of seven, pomegranate seeds and related that the tree grew in the garden of the king of the underworld.
Pg.134, A Hermetical Essay on the Mysteries, Eleusis ~ Carl Kerenyl
Last autumn I cleared a patch of earth until it was hard dirt. It stayed this way through the California drought of 2015-16. I was feeling like the dirt; barren, hopeless, and death lingered by grief as a dark hopeless shadow. The underworld loomed close. It was winter. I then focused on my studies of the Eleusinian mysteries, Persephone’s mythology and now Aeschylus’s play Prometheus Bound. Through years of study the time was just right for profound understanding to came quickly.
Now this patch of earth is a glorious shameless orgy of life. The simple saying “life, death and rebirth” shines in my soul. Nature shows us the holy grail within: as Persephone reaching for the dead symbolizing the bridge of rebirth, and as Prometheus bringer of fire gifting humanity the dreams of “dim hopes.”
Because I granted mortal men prerogative; I sought the source of fire by stealth and carried it Within a hollow fennel reed. My gift to man Has taught him every skill and been his great resource. Such is the crime for which I pay the penalty, Spread-eagle, pinned in chains beneath the open sky.
The menopause is probably the least glamorous topic imaginable; and this is interesting, because it is one of the very few topics …to which cling some shreds and remnants of taboo. A serious mention of menopause is usually met with uneasy silence; a sneering reference to it is usually met with relieved sniggers. Both the silence and the sniggering are pretty sure indications of taboo.
~ Ursula K. Guin
Halloween and Day of the Dead, the next six months are all about autumn and winter, which is the dying and the silence of nature. This is symbolic in some places of the world more than others. I know that while living on the east coast in Rochester New York I distinctly experienced this pulling in and introspection of the seasons, this brings me to Persephone.
In Greek mythology she is the daughter of Demeter who is raped by Hades king of the dead. A godly deal is made between Demeter and Hades. For 6 months of the year Persephone lives with her mother above the earth during spring and summer, and for 6 months during autumn and winter she lives with Hades.
Even though she was raped this is what the Gods agreed too.
Stencil by Hudley Flipside
“She held the keys to heaven and hell.”
~ Elysium, Tartarus
Before Persephone was raped by a patriarchal culture that created this Greek story, she was queen of the underworld, destroyer and a great crone. My favorite image is of her wearing a black robe while stirring a cauldron. She has many names and Hecate is one of them.
Persephone is part of the turning triangle also known as the triple goddess Demeter: virgin, mother, and crone. If we break down the meaning of the word Demeter, we have meter “mother” and de “delta” also known as “the letter of the vulva.”
“The Doorway of the Mysterious Feminine… the root from which heaven and earth sprang.”
Orphic mystics worshiped Persephone as Goddess of the blessed Dead.
“And now I come a suppliant to the Holy Persephone, that of her grace she received me to the seats of the Hallowed” Persephone answered” Happy and blessed one, thou shalt be god instead of mortal.”
Much of this information is passed on historically through the study of the Eleusinian mysteries. They are focused on the Homeric hymn to Demeter where Persephone plays her part especially at this time of the year. She is the older woman or crone.
This above introduction to Persephone is a way into my personal relationship with her. I am now walking towards the way of the crone. This particular autumn and winter are special to me because I am starting the walk of “Eleusis” or the advent towards the mysterious feminine where a doorway is opened to me. This winter is a full year since my womb became silent. Symbolically I see myself as a multi-colored-darkened flower that once bloomed, but now faces downward ready to fall towards the earth. It is a sad time but also a time of great change and power. I can feel it.
What I am experiencing parallels, as a synchronicity, with the current autumn and winter of 2012. I am sure that there are many other women walking this path now as well.
I do not find many stories about what I am experiencing which is why I am sharing my story. To find and nurture another or inspire and affirm with another… is my hope.
I am not ashamed of the subtle calling that pulls me on; it is an ancient one that I share closely with other women and my dear Persephone.
On my blog I have put up an image of an Owl. The image is taken from an ancient Greek coin used in the Eleusinian mysteries. Women involved in this ritualistic mystery wore these large coins on their heads. I am using my rendering of the image in a different way.
I am creating my own personal ritual by having the image tattooed on the top of both of my wrists. I will do this in the next two weeks as an action that symbolizes my personal journey in becoming a crone.
Since our culture ignores this part of a woman’s life, I found I needed to create this ritual and to bring forth my knowledge of Persephone and the owl as a cumulative experience.
Five years have passed. Life is feeling normal again. I lost both parents and went through the worst of the worst. I visited the underworld and received help from a Jungian therapist to walk with me on my dark journey. ‘Art, writing and poetry’ is the healing force that pulled me into a new world. I embrace the triple Goddess within myself.
My libido is different. I see the world with new eyes. Life, pain, fear, love, desire all are different as new friends. I need less. I am close to nature and the elements. It is beyond words. Life is still challenging at times especially growing older. I do not feel alone and continue to work with such mysteries.
I am another woman who is initiated
bless all the women as well
before me and after me.
For this is the advent of the Eleusinian mysteries!!
Sources: *The Woman’s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets by Barbara G. Walker: *The Element Encyclopedia of Secret Signs and Symbols by Adele Nozedar: *Eleusis, Archetypal Image of Mother and Daughter by Carl Kerenyl.