My article offers an alternative interpretation to the Greek myth of Persephone in the underworld.
Sage Woman: Celebrating the Goddess in Every Woman
Spring 1998, Issue 41, Pages 54 – 55
The Daughter Betrayed or the Goddess Triumphant?
Spring equinox: This special day marks the middle point between winter solstice and summer solstice. The seasons change, as there is equal day and equal night everywhere on our planet. We leave the dark of winter and embrace the light of summer. All of nature is revived after winter hibernation. As the old pagan chant goes: “Equal day and equal night, first the dark and then the light.”
Springtime is sacred to many goddesses, but the Saxon goddess Eostre inspired the Christian holiday of Easter. Her fertility symbols – eggs and rabbits – live on 2,000 years after Christianity replaced pagan spirituality. This equinox, decorate your home with spring flowers and burn white or beeswax candles to honor the return of the spring.
One of the many myths and stories that explain seasonal change is the myth of Demeter and Persephone. In Greek mythology, the earth goddess Demeter grieves during the six months that her daughter Persephone is in the underworld and nothing will grow. Hence, we experience winter. When Persephone is reunited with her mother from spring equinox until fall equinox, plants flourish again. The patriarchal version of the Demeter and Persephone myth is told in the form of a violent rape. Supposedly Persephone was painting spring flowers one day when her uncle Hades (Demeter’s brother) charged out of the underworld and abducted her into hell. Demeter complained to the sky god Zeus (also her brother) but Zeus did nothing. Sound like a family incest situation? When Demeter grieves and no crops grow, Zeus needs to save his hide and reluctantly comes to an agreement to release Persephone for half of the year.
An earlier form of the Demeter and Persephone myth tells a drastically different tale with no mention of a rapist uncle. Sensitive child Persephone heard the cries of the dead in the underworld and chose to go to them to comfort and release them. She gains maturity and strength through her selfless acts and becomes queen of the underworld. Demeter missed her daughter when gone, and still did not allow plants to grow while Persephone tended the dead. Persephone’s return marks the beginning of spring. This equinox revive Persephone’s myth by reading LOST GODDESSES OF EARLY GREECE by Charlene Spretnak (Beacon Press). Reclaim the truth of springtime that predates the patriarchal overlay.