I sat in bed struggling through the story of Persephone. It was a thin book but I couldn’t make sense of it, didn’t understand what it had to do with me.
Selma my therapist recommended I read it. But I’ve never been good at interpreting myths, I think I read them too literally, their hidden meaning undecipherable from the imagery of the story floating around in my head.
Short as it was, I never finished reading it. That was almost ten years ago.
Now, with the help of Jean Shinoda Bolen’s book The Goddess in Older Women, I finally get it.
Basically, Persephone was the daughter of Demeter and Zeus. Zeus gave Hades, the god of the underworld, permission to abduct Persephone making her his bride. Demeter didn’t know about the arrangement and when Persephone disappeared she searched for her until she found her and brought her back.
But because Persephone had eaten some pomegranate seeds when she was in the underworld she was destined to spend three months out of the year there for the rest of her life. She is also known as Queen of the Underworld.
Because Persephone was a young carefree maiden when she was abducted, she represents a woman who doesn’t know what she wants to do with her life. She is easily swayed by stronger personalities and finds herself flailing around in life trying to be what other people want her to be. Like a young Persephone, her “self” has been abducted.
In Bolen’s book she tells and interprets the stories of many different Goddesses. I kept seeing parts of myself in them, but when I read about Persephone, it was like reading the story of most of my life.
Even when I was going to art school or making art, something I did on and off throughout my life, I was never able to stay dedicated to it. I was always pulled by trying to please my ex-husband and being drawn into his world. I couldn’t separate myself from the overbearing traditions and obligations of my birth family enough to form my own identity.
I always knew I wanted something more, that the real me was lurking inside myself, slowly dying as I gave myself over to others again and again. I was never able to take responsibility for what I really wanted from my life.
Bolen writes that some women stay Persephone their whole life. But I started to change when I was in my early forties. I see now that the Goddess Kali – the destructive, protecting and life renewing Goddess – was inside of me, as goddesses are, and had awakened me.
To protect my “self” I had to destroy my old life, leave my husband at the time, break off some unhealthy friendships, and redefine boundaries with my birth family.
I had to begin making my art, doing the work that I believe is my purpose in life, and was always afraid to do.
And that’s what I’ve been doing for the last nine years, recreating my life by finally living it.
Now I’m ready to see what comes next.
Bolen encourages women who identify with Persephone to look to the wisdom of Metis, Hecate, Sophia and Hestia. Metis the goddess of practical wisdom, Hecate, the Goddess of Intuition, the mystical and spiritual Sophia and Hestia who creates a safe and nourishing home.
While I feel like I’ve incorporated a part of all of these Goddess in my life already, I’m curious what will happen if I actively focus on what they represent more consciously.
It feels like an exciting direction, the next step. Who will I be next year? How will my life change? Where will the Goddesses direct and inspire me next?
And what is ahead of me for my growth, understanding and awareness.
5 thoughts on “Persephone and Me”
OH, MARIA!! I LOVE THIS!! IT FEELS LIKE MY LIFE, TOO! THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR TAKING THE TIME AND ENERGY TO UNDERSTAND THESE GODDESSES AND WRITE ABOUT THIS MYTH AND ITS INTERPRETATION!! I also LOVE all your pics of Fate and Gus! Annie
Thanks for sharing! Also reads like my life before and after! My life changed at 41 when I married my husband and even though I’m still trying to decide what I want to do, at least I’m having a great time deciding ALL BY MYSELF!!! No one to TELL me what THEY think I should be doing. I need to put that book on my Must-reads list. Thanks again until next time. Lamar from Texas
Seems we’re Kindred Spirits Lamar.
” . . . doing the work that I believe is my purpose in life.” I will meditate on this tonight. You have inspired me to see if my dream is really my dream or if it is what I think my dream should be. Bless you, Maria.
That’s interesting Melinda, and really only something you know. Best to you….