It is never easy to watch someone you care for struggle through a difficult time in their life, yet you know they have the strength within them to reach the surface again. We all must grow and mature and accept that we are never the same when we ascend from the darkness. Life can open new doors along our path just as much as our path can open doors to ourselves.
This journey is not unlike the story of Persephone, Greek Goddess of the spring, clothed richly in green and gold, whose descent into the underworld with Hades may not have been entirely voluntary. She was first known as Kore or “Maiden” when Hades, ruler of the underworld, pined after her to be his bride. Rejected by Persephone’s mother, Demeter, Hades lured or possibly kidnapped Persephone away to the underworld.
The story tells that one day, the maiden was out picking flowers and seeing a beautiful narcissus flower, she went to pick the bloom. The ground opened to reveal Hades. Whether she was taken against her will or not, Persephone then chose to eat the seeds of a pomegranate, the fruit of the underworld, knowing that those who did could never leave. We all make decisions, sometimes not comprehending the full impact our choices can make. Mistakes are a part of life, and we can either choose to ignore or grow from them.
Filled with grief for her only daughter, Demeter, the goddess of grain and harvest, let everything on earth wither and die. Her wrath drew the attention of the other gods, and Zeus decided that his daughter would spend half the months in the underworld with Hades and half on earth with her mother. When she finally emerged from the shadows of the underworld, after what was the first winter on earth, she was no longer the maiden, but Persephone, the Queen of the Underworld. She had taken on the mantle, found her strength, and completed her transformation.
Persephone is often associated with Mabon, the Autumn Equinox. When light and darkness are balanced, the sun starts to recede, and it is time for her to return to the underworld so the earth can sleep. We all must go through these transformations, often not knowing we need them. We dive into the shadows so we can surface anew and grow. For many pagans, shadow work is a common practice incorporated into their craft.
Like Persephone, a natural time for these journeys is when the light fades, and Autumn is upon us or when the moon is new, just before starting her cycle again. When it is dim, we reach inside ourselves, to our inner strength so that we can emerge into the light and see the first daffodils, the narcissus flowers of our spring.
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