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Mar 15     8 PM

The Myth of Persephone

The Reading Group

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On a serene day, much like any other in the land of Greece, the sun cast its radiant glow upon the lush green hills, and vibrant flowers adorned the earth. Persephone, the beautiful young maiden, played joyfully with her friends upon the hillside, while her mother Demeter sat nearby as her father Zeus observed from the heavens above. Amidst laughter and whispered secrets, the girls delighted in gathering colourful blooms like purple crocuses, royal blue irises, and fragrant hyacinths. Persephone briefly considered picking some for her mother but was captivated by the sight of a mesmerising flower – a narcissus, precisely the one her father had hoped she would find.

As she reached out to pluck the flower, the ground trembled beneath her feet, and a chasm opened before her. From its depths emerged the imposing figure of Hades, the God of the Underworld and Zeus’ sibling. Before Persephone could react, she was swept off her feet and onto Hades' golden chariot. The crack of the whip propelled them into the darkness below, leaving Persephone in a state of terror as they descended into the depths of the Underworld.

 

Demeter's heart ached with pain, sensing that something was gravely amiss. Frantically searching for her beloved daughter, she found herself consumed by despair as Persephone vanished from both the heavens and the earth. Neglecting her duties as the Goddess of Grain and Growth, Demeter watched helplessly as the once-thriving plants withered and died around her, mirroring the fading hope in her own heart.


Meanwhile, in the depths of the underworld, Hades sought to justify his actions to Persephone, professing his love and explaining the plan devised with her father's assistance. Despite his pleas for her to remain as his wife, Persephone yearned for the comforts of her mother's home and the beauty of the world above.

 

Demeter turned to fury as she learned of Persephone's disappearance. Confronting Zeus and uncovering his involvement, she demanded her daughter's return. Zeus sent Hermes to retrieve Persephone from the underworld, where he found her transformed into a radiant Queen of the Dead, content in her new role.

 

Hades, seeking to comfort Persephone, offered her pomegranate seeds, symbolising her bond with the underworld. Reluctantly, she bid farewell to her husband and returned to her mother's realm, but with tasting the fruit, sealing her fate. Although Persephone's return brought joy to her mother and the world, Demeter grew increasingly worried as she realised her daughter's transformation. Zeus decreed that Persephone could only return if she remained pure, yet her consumption of the pomegranate seeds marked her with a permanent connection to the underworld. Despite the bittersweet nature of her return, Persephone embraced her role, bringing spring's renewal and guiding souls in the underworld.
 

As she cycles between the worlds, her departure heralds winter's chill, while her return promises the hope of rebirth and harmony.

Persephone’s Journey from a Naive Daughter to the Queen of the Underworld:

Persephone embodies youthfulness and innocence, exuding a charming connection to her innermost self. Her genuine, good-hearted nature allows her to view the world with fresh eyes each day, fostering an endearing innocence that captivates those around her. She is seen to be a compliant maiden, naive to the allure she holds, adrift and uncertain of her purpose and direction. She remains passive, awaiting external forces to shape her destiny, lacking agency in her narrative.

However, Persephone’s return from the underworld marks a transformation in the myth. Consuming the pomegranate seeds, she becomes Hades' bride and ruler of his realm. The Persephone who emerges is no longer a passive victim, but a figure of inner strength and wisdom, having traversed the depths of the psyche. Her experience grants her the ability to govern the underworld and aid others in their journeys. 

Travelling the depths of the psyche, Persephone gains the ability to govern the underworld and aid others in their journeys. Despite the challenges, Persephone's story illustrates the power of overcoming inner obstacles and emerging stronger. This lecture seeks to explore Persephone's transformation from the perspective of the psyche, delving into the depths of her journey.

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