When we have been lost and lost others – when we have lost beloved ones, including ourselves …
When we have wandered the barren fields of our psyches, minds and our lives …
When we feel we have failed and our hearts are broken …
When we know we have made terrible errors of judgement and are filled with remorse …
… and the “we” may be personal as well as collective.
We may identify this pain with a Larger Self – let a larger self carry it – for that is where it truly may belong: we participate in something much larger by virtue of existence. Why not mythologize instead of pathologize.[i] We may name this Larger Self as we wish. At my place the story that is played out at the Equinoxes is that of Demeter and Persephone: Persephone is lost to the Underworld in the Autumn and She returns in the Spring.
We play out the version where Persephone descends voluntarily to comfort the dead, and for the getting of wisdom:[ii] She is a redeemer. Demeter the Mother grieves Her departure, waits for Her, and hopes for Her return.
We may identify our personal and collective pain – with that of Demeter. We are always this Larger Self – Mother as well as Daughter.
Then when the flower appears unexpectedly from the beneath the earth or on the branch … the joy, relief and gratitude felt may be echoed in the sacred words: Persephone returns! Persephone returns! We may feel it.
When the lost beloved One returns with new beauty, new wisdom – there is joy in the land! … and in our own personal land of bodymind.
I am moved by this story and these sacred words – knowing the depth of my own departure, betrayals and losses, as well as witnessing it around me and in the world.
This is the story:
Persephone had gathered three poppies and three sheaves of wheat. Then Demeter had led Her to a long, deep chasm and produced a torch for her to carry. She had stood and watched Her Daughter go down further and further into the cleft of the Earth. …
For months Persephone received and renewed the dead without ever resting or growing weary. All the while Her Mother remained disconsolate. … In Her sorrow She withdrew Her power from the crops, the trees, the plants. She forbade any new growth to blanket the Earth. The mortals planted their seed, but the fields remained barren. Demeter was consumed with loneliness and finally settled on a bare hillside to gaze out at nothing from sunken eyes. For days and nights, weeks and months She sat waiting.
One morning a ring of purple crocus quietly pushed their way through the soil and surrounded Demeter. She looked with surprise at the new arrivals from below and thought what a shame it was that She was too weakened to feel rage at Her injunction being broken. Then She leaned forward and heard them whisper in the warm breeze: “Persephone returns! Persephone returns!”[iii]
The new green leaves that we see on the trees particularly in this Season of Spring – depending on your region, herald renewal and regeneration, and may herald that possibility in our hearts and minds, collectively and personally. The new green, the flowers and the strengthening light may speak of Her eternal Creativity and the wholing of our hearts.
Hear the sacred words whispered in the warm breeze:
Persephone returns! Persephone returns!
© Glenys Livingstone 2016
A Spring Equinox/Eostar Meditation is available digitally as an individual track on this page: PaGaian Cosmology Meditations CDs
[i] As Dr. Jean Houston advocates in her work of Sacred Psychology. See The Search for the Beloved.
[ii] See Charlene Spretnak, Lost Goddesses of Early Greece, p.114-118.
[iii] An excerpt from Charlene Spretnak, Lost Goddesses of Early Greece, p.114-118.
Houston, Jean. The Search for the Beloved. Los Angeles: Jeremy P. Tarcher, 1987.
Livingstone, Glenys. PaGaian Cosmology: Re-inventing Earth-based Goddess Religion. NE: iUniverse, 2005.
Spretnak, Charlene. Lost Goddesses of Early Greece. Boston: Beacon Press, 1992/1978.