Saturday, September 24, 2016

Persephone: Goddess of the Equinox

Persephone (2016)

Persephone, it seems to me,  is truly the Goddess of the Equinoxes, because She is both symbol  of spring and life's renewal when she returns to her mother Demeter at the turning of the seasonal Wheel, and she is also Goddess of death, wife of Hades, and Queen of the Underworld in the ending and dormant times of  turning of the wheel.  

Having said this,  I allow myself here to move out of the great universal language of archetype, and will get a bit personal.  The truth of life in nature is that everything is changing, everything dies to become something else, or at least, make way for something else.  As beings embedded in nature, this is true of us as well, whether we like it or not.  The summer ends, and as we feast on the delightful fruits and breads of the harvest, we barely notice, indeed, deny, the slow creep of winter.  And yet that beautiful, or horrific, or both, Leveler is already advancing over the horizon, implacable and indifferent.   Both Demeter and Hades have jobs to do.  

This is true of nature, this is true of biological life, and by golly, it's true of our psyches as well.  When Persephone calls, I believe in listening to what She has to say, whether it occurs in the bright lit flowering fields, or is a painful cry echoing from caverns deep in the Underworld.  And that is the point at which Hecate appears with her torch (but that is another story).  

We all love the Song of Persephone in the spring, the song that tells us "this is the time to BE", to feel the honey sun on your shoulders, to love, to move away from the lonely tunnels of the mind and into the great Conversation of the fields, of the planet.

When Persephone calls from the caverns, not so easy.  Recently I had a meltdown from out of seemingly "know where".  All of a sudden, I couldn't sleep, found my face full of tears that would not emerge from my eyes, was angry, very angry, and having just completed a massive project building a studio, wanted nothing more than to jump into my car and drive east and just keep going, free.  I didn't, but I really, really wanted to.   I decided doing such a thing was very ill advised, although I'm not opposed to such trips when the necessity arises, but I did allow myself to go a bit crazy.  I allowed myself to have those feelings, to walk in the desert, to drink too much, to be educated by the process of their arising.   That's one of those "calls from the deep" that must be heard, no matter how uncomfortable.  You try to discover the language and content of that dark song too, what you need to know to become more fully human, what the soul is trying to tell you.  You don't "transcend" the voice of Persephone, you mature and change, you keep on moving.

This is Persephone's time of Balance, of Equinox, Her Integral being.  Which moving away from psychological jargon simply means realizing that we must, somehow, say "yes" to all of it, and keep moving, keep dancing the light and shadow dance.  Persephone will dance with us, will educate, if one can only accept this Moving Point of Balance.   

We are all, in the final analysis, Wanderers.

"Pesephone II" 2016
"Persephone the Wanderer" 
by Louise Glück,

In the first version, Persephone
is taken from her mother
and the goddess of the earth
punishes the earth—this is
consistent with what we know of human behavior,

that human beings take profound satisfaction
in doing harm, particularly
unconscious harm:

we may call this
negative creation.

I am not certain I will
keep this word: is earth
“home” to Persephone? Is she at home, conceivably,
in the bed of the god? Is she
at home nowhere? Is she
a born wanderer, in other words
an existential
replica of her own mother, less
hamstrung by ideas of causality?

You are allowed to like
no one, you know. The characters
are not people.
They are aspects of a dilemma or conflict.

Three parts: just as the soul is divided,
ego, superego, id. Likewise

the three levels of the known world,
a kind of diagram that separates
heaven from earth from hell.

You must ask yourself:
where is it snowing?

White of forgetfulness,
of desecration—

It is snowing on earth; the cold wind says

Persephone is having sex in hell.
Unlike the rest of us, she doesn’t know
what winter is, only that
she is what causes it.

She is lying in the bed of Hades.
What is in her mind?
Is she afraid? Has something
blotted out the idea
of mind?

She does know the earth
is run by mothers, this much
is certain. She also knows
she is not what is called
a girl any longer. Regarding
incarceration, she believes

she has been a prisoner since she has been a daughter.

The terrible reunions in store for her
will take up the rest of her life.
When the passion for expiation
is chronic, fierce, you do not choose
the way you live. You do not live;
you are not allowed to die.

You drift between earth and death
which seem, finally,
strangely alike. Scholars tell us

that there is no point in knowing what you want
when the forces contending over you
could kill you.

White of forgetfulness,
white of safety—

They say
there is a rift in the human soul
which was not constructed to belong
entirely to life. Earth

asks us to deny this rift, a threat
disguised as suggestion—
as we have seen
in the tale of Persephone
which should be read

as an argument between the mother and the lover—
the daughter is just meat.

When death confronts her, she has never seen
the meadow without the daisies.
Suddenly she is no longer
singing her maidenly songs
about her mother’s
beauty and fecundity. Where
the rift is, the break is.

Song of the earth,
song of the mythic vision of eternal life—

My soul
shattered with the strain
of trying to belong to earth—

What will you do,
when it is your turn in the field with the god?

“Persephone the Wanderer” from Averno by Louise Glück.
Copyright © 2006 by Louise Glück.

2 comments:

ann said...

Deepening, Darkening, I do truly feel it also, this season of change, all hanging in the balance. Persephone. I have walked in her shoes, her shadow. We all do, as the poet says. The balance I seek is that place where we can live with dark of night within, with snow on the roof, and know that meadows filled with poppies will be back for us to en-joy!
I recently had a tooth extracted. It is now a cavity, a cave, where once a useful thing lived. Persephone's home in the dark. My tongue finds play there, all is in balance.

Barb said...

Wanderer is a theme I've been thinking about a lot recently--it has cropped up in so many ways...and here it is again...you are so attuned.