Brownie Bites: The Myth of Persephone-Outtake #4-There and Back Again

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Scarisoara Cave in Romania. Image retrieved from googleimages.com

The very cave you are afraid to enter turns out to be the source of what you are looking for. The damned thing in the cave that was so dreaded has become the center. Joseph Campbell

Hades is an archetype of what Jungian psychology calls the Shadow: a component of the unconscious mind that contains all the suppressed and repressed psychic content of our conscious minds. But, the Shadow also contains its own agenda and archetypes: some that wish to destroy us, some that wish to enlighten us, and some that need our love compassion. The Shadow also contains all the richness of unborn and unrecognized potentialities of our personalities. It can be a place of incredible creative inspiration.

While Persephone, the creative inspiration of Demeter, has been abducted and forced to split her time between the Upperworld and the Underworld, the lesson for us here is really one of compassion. Its going to happen. Even if we are blessedly free of deep murderous complexes, out creativity will still descend and die from time to time, but it will come back, too.

In the pre-Hellinic myth, Persephone descends voluntarily through her compassion. She wishes to bring comfort to the souls of the dead, but she becomes lost in the underworld and dies. Hades and Hecate find her and give her sustenance which revives her. She voluntarily stays to be Hade’s Queen where she will become enlightened with the knowledge of Death, and come into her own power.

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“Jupiter, Neptune, and Pluto Drawing Lots for Their Kingdoms” by Giulio Romana 1528. Image retrieved from googleimages.com

Hades became the God of the Underworld through no fault of his own.When the Olympians overthrew their murderous father, Cronos, Zeus, Hades, and Poseidon drew lots: Zeus ruled the Skies, Poseidon ruled the Sea, and Hades ( who got the short straw) was given the realm of the Underworld. We can assume that he wasn’t very happy about it, nor was he as popular as his two other brothers.

Unlike the other Gods and Goddesses, Hades is bound to the Underworld. He does not spend much time topside. He is lonely, and craves life and love: much like our own Shadow does. Hades, in his natural function, is not evil in the sense of “Demonic Evil”( and there is whole other conversation).  And so maybe he deserves our love and compassion. And perhaps, we can come to understand why he abducts our own Persephone from time to time.

Hades is said to be incredibly wealthy: he rules all the precious gems and metals within the Earth. I find this to be a beautiful metaphor of Campbell’s treasure buried in the deep, dark cave of our psyches. There, if we stay true and surrender to “Death”,  shines our treasure. But, we are creatures of light, and so is Persephone. We, like her, must return to the surface every once in a while. When we do, we bring  all the richness of the gems of knowledge we have received in the Underworld.  Our own Persephone brings new creative inspiration and understanding to the world.  We find we are not quite so afraid of the natural and inevitable process of Death in all its forms.

The goal is to bring the jewel back to the world, to join the two things together. Joseph Campbell.

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“Persephone Queen of the Underworld” by Kinuko Y. Craft. Image retrieved from googleimages.com

We must remember that, through her alliance with Hades,  Persephone becomes a great Goddess in her own right; Hades becomes a more fair and just ruler of the Dead through his love of Persephone.  The medicine from this union is that we, as artists,  must descend into the Underworld, die and rebirth in unity with our own Shadow. There, we will find the reward of our treasure.  We can do this with courage, will, humility, and most of all compassion. All things have a season and a reason. Our ego, our Demeter, is merely there to serve our deeper creative selves and we must learn to ride the tide of the life-death-rebirth cycle.

 

Thanks for reading.

 

 

 

 

 

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