The Witches Persephone  

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The Witches Persephone Cover
Go and see -- that transcendent beauty frozen in the breath of the other world; those lips that have answered the embrace of the King of the Dead; and feel the glance of the eyes which have taken in what no one living sees."

Three Essays on Religion and Thought in Magna Graecia

--Gunther Zuntz

Classical Persephone

Persephone, also known as Kore or Proserpina, is known alternately as the Goddess of new, growing things, or as a terrible goddess of the dead. The daughter of Demeter (earth) and Zeus (sky), she has over time developed many aspects.

Persephone and Kore were originally separate, distinct figures in the Greek pantheon. Kore ("girl" or "maiden") is described as a young, beautiful girl, and Persephone (meaning "she who destroys the light") as a dark, brooding woman of terrifying aspect, akin to Kali. Late in the evolution of the Greek pantheon the two aspects were combined into the fair, sad figure of a woman so well known in romantic poetry and art.

As the classical story goes, Persephone was out gathering flowers in a meadow when she is seen by Hades, god of the underworld. Smitten by her beauty, he seizes her just as she is plucking a narcissus, and carries her off into the earth.

Her mother, stricken by her loss, abandons her divine duties in the search for her missing daughter, and the earth falls barren. Fruit withers on the trees, green leaves turn and fall, and the animals either die or fall into hibernation. This continues until Zeus intervenes, and demands the return of Persephone to her mother unless she had, by some word or deed, consented to her abduction.

During her brief stay in the underworld Persephone eats of a pomegranate and, wittingly or not, commits herself. For as many seeds as she has eaten, she is compelled to spend an equal number of months each year with her new mate in his dark realm. The months of her absence from the earth mark the winter season as her mother falls into a deep, seasonal grief.

Persephone as the maiden is symbolic of youth, beauty, fertility and desire. The story of her seduction is also the story of transition from "girlhood" into "womanhood."

The union of Persephone and Hades is a wedding of life/death, consummated (interestingly enough) by the eating of seeds grown in darkness.

Persephone Between the Worlds...Goddess in the Kingdom of Death

...when the earth falls into darkness and cold, it is said that the Goddess spends this time in the Kingdom of Death. For in love She ever seeks Her other Self, and walks a part of Her cycle in the shadows.

The Guardian of the Gate challenged Her, and She stripped Herself of all the clothing and jewels She wore, for nothing may be brought into that land. For love, She was bound as all who enter there must be and brought before Death Himself.

He loved Her, as He forever would, and knelt at Her feet. He lay His sword and crown there, stood, and kissed Her, saying:

"Do not return to the living world, but stay here with Me, and have peace and rest and comfort. It is the fate of all that lives to die. Everything passes, everything fades into the darkness. I bring comfort and consolation to all who pass the gates. But You are my heart's desire...return not, but stay here with Me."

She smiled Her dark, lovely smile, took up His crown and placed it upon Her own head, saying:

"Here is the circle of rebirth. Through You all passes out of life, and through Myself all may be born again. Even death is not eternal...Mine is the mystery of the dark womb, that is the cauldron of rebirth. Enter into Me and know Me, and You will be free of all fear. For as life is but a journey into death, so death is but a passage back to life, and in Me the circle is ever turning."

In love, He entered into Her, and so was reborn into life. As He is known as Lord of Shadows, the comforter, consoler, the opener of gates, the eternal She is the Rose in the Darkness, the deep abiding mother; from Her all things proceed, and to Her they return again. In Her are the mysteries of death, of birth, and the fulfillment of all love.

--Variation on a traditional Craft myth

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This entry was posted on 11 September 2009 at Friday, September 11, 2009 . You can follow any responses to this entry through the .