Persephone, Greek Goddess of the Underworld, represents death, rebirth, the harvest and Spring. Every Fall, when the earth is starting to decay, Persephone is guided to the Underworld by the Goddess Hekate. She holds the torch to lead Persephone to rule as Queen alongside her husband Hades. This represents Persephones descent into the darkest, depths of her soul, where death rules. This can embody the death of the self, or a part of the self. A releasing of the old, letting go of the ego, and allowing the old self to die.
When Spring begins, and all the flowers are blooming, the sun is shining and the birds singing, Persephone returns to back to the land of the Gods to be with her mother, Demeter. She is essentially reborn, fresh and renewed. The sun will always shine once again, and cleanses the skin of the old self, for the new. Life is abundant and happiness abound in the sunny and fertile months of Spring and Summer. With the return of Persephone, so is the return of life. In this way she also symbolizes the balance of dark and light in life, there must be balance in order to keep the natural cycle of life going, and the same is true for our own individual lives.
The myth of Persephone begins with her abduction into the Underworld by the God Hades, Lord of the Underworld. It is said that once he got her there, he tricked her into eating some pomegranate seeds. Not realizing she was being deceived, Persephone ate the seeds, now binding her to the Underworld forever. This enraged her mother, the Goddess Demeter, Goddess of the harvest, and she proclaimed that all the plants and fruits from the harvest would die if she did not get her daughter back. The other Gods were not happy about this, so Demeter and Hades made an agreement, that since Persephone ate the Pomegranate seeds, part of her was bound the the Underworld, she would have to stay there half the year, and spend the other half with her mother.
So every fall when Persephone is lead back to the Underworld, Demeter mourns her loss, therefore leaving the earth to rot and decay. Though when Persephone returns, all the plants and animals come back to life as now Demeter is happy once more. The myth of Persephone and Demeter are very much entwined with each other. They are very connected, and were honored during the Eleusinian Mysteries, these were said to have been held in high esteem and with the utmost importance.
Just like in our own lives, sometimes we go through dark and life changing experiences. When we go through painful or difficult struggles, we grow and become stronger within ourselves. We shed the old life we once knew, and prepare for the one we will now be living. Though just like when Persephone descends into the Underworld, it can be a dark and scary place. Although after the darkness fades, the sun will always shine again. Life will always renew itself in nature, as it will in our own lives, metaphorically speaking.
Persephone may be the Queen of the Underworld and death, but she also symbolizes rebirth and renewal. Though she is considered to be a maiden Goddess, she is wise in her experience, as she knows the mysteries of life and death. Her story can inspire strength to get through tough struggles, and to be reborn a new and stronger person.
On your altar for Persephone, have representations of Spring, flowers, herbs of dittany of Crete, frankincense and willow. Colors of green, black, blue and yellow. A pomegranate and crystals of jet, azurite and turquoise.
Enjoy your path to renewal with this courageous Goddess of the Underworld!
Photo courtesy of Forest of the Fae
Photo courtesy of Forest of the Fae