Persephone is the daughter of Zeus and Demeter. Demeter was a protective mother as well as the goddess of agriculture. Her daughter was young and beautiful and her mother was extremely protective of her. Keeping men away from Persephone was always a priority. Hades, the god of the underworld, was an unyielding figure. He was dark and sullen and surrounded by death and suffering. He was aged and dark and enamored with the beauty and livelihood of Persephone.
Hades approached his sister Demeter and asked to take her beloved Persephone as his wife and make her the queen of the underworld. To which, Demeter refused.
Not to be denied, Hades watched Persephone and while she walked in a field picking flowers, he soared forth from the center of the earth and whisked her down into the underworld. Hades grabbed her so quickly that it was almost certain that no one had seen him. Almost. But someone did see, the event was witnessed by his brothers, Zeus and Helios, god of the sun. Neither acted.
Demeter came out looking for Persephone. She searched high and low, looking for her, and she was nowhere to be found. She contacted Hecate, for help finding her. Hecate led Demeter back to Helios, as the all-seeing, surely he had some information on her disappearance. Her tears and pleas finally convinced Helios to give the information he had. That her dear Persephone was in the underworld with Hades, and would certainly become his wife.
Persephone all the while, was living in the underworld with Hades, crying day and night to go back home to her mother. Her heart ached at the loss and her only desire was to get back home. She was so sick with grief that she would not eat or drink.
Demeter approached Zeus for assistance getting Hades to release Persephone. To which he refused. She was devastated. Lost without her daughter, Demeter stopped managing the seasons. She left the earth without care, so the plants began to die. All of humanity was suffering starvation and their prayers reached Zeus, who decided he must do something. He agreed to bring Persephone back to Demeter if she was truly stolen and not there of her own free will.
Hades learned of this and tricked Persephone into eating Pomegranate seeds. Eating anything in the underworld meant a person could never return to the earth. Demeter, furious at this revelation, vowed that the earth would never fruit again.
Zeus quickly decreed that Persephone would spend six months with her mother on earth and six months with her husband in the underworld. It said that the earth blossoms and is full of life while Persephone is with her mother. But as the time draws near for her to return, Demeter slowly pulls her blessings back from the earth until nothing can grow. We sit in a dark winter with the sadness of Demeter until Persephone returns in the spring, guided by Hecate's torches.
This is my retelling of the Greek myth of Persephone. It is by far one of my favorite myths that includes Hecate. It fits in beautifully with Hecate's connection to luminal, chthonic spaces. We cannot think of Hecate without mentioning torches and here in this myth, we have her guiding Persephone back to the loving arms of her mother and bringing fertility and life back to the earth for another season.
Originally published on Blogger - 6/2/21 12:38 PM