The story of Persephone has been told in many ways, though one really hit home for me. This particular Goddess continued to showed up in my life over and over again, through symbols, books, articles, etc. Originally I thought it was pronounced “purse – a – phone”, which was corrected a couple of times before I started to pay attention.
Firstly I needed guidance on how to pay attention. I read a book by an inspiring writer and woman, Phyllis Curott, who wrote Book of Shadows. This book was one that revived the witchy woman inside me. It reconnected me to, not only, the female spirit but the intentional living of witchcraft. The practices laid out in the book by Phyllis brought a new life to meditation, intention and goal setting, connecting and grounding to the Earth and looking for signs in our life to guide us.
In her book, Book of Shadows, she took us on her journey, where the image of James Dean found his way into her path again and again. Pointing her to what she craved in life but most importantly showing her symbolism and how its synchronicity has something to show you. James Dean was the symbol for her, helping her manifest the man she most wanted in her life.
I took it to heart and began looking in my own life for signs beyond coincidence. Peoples, places, or things that show up seemingly at random. After a couple weeks I forgot about this intention.That is when Persephone showed up for the first time, and then again and again. Every time she did, I looked into the myths and stories and found small morals and wisdoms but do not find a connection on a grander level so I began to ignore her. She showed up again, and this time I laughed to myself and said to the Universe, “okay, okay you’ve got my full attention”. I received a children’s book about the myth of Persephone. This was the Universe really breaking it down for me, the simplest language possible so I could I see the Persephone within myself and accept the wisdom and lessons there for me. If you’ve heard this story before, I’ll ask you to notice that it is often centered more on Demeter, Persephone’s mothers, and not on the suffrage of Persephone.
Persephone, Goddess of Spring, Maiden and daughter of Demeter and Zeus, was kidnapped by Hades, God of the Underworld. He fell in love with her beauty and choose her to become his Queen of the Underworld. She tried to resist but was overpowered and taken by Hades, kicking and screaming. Hades loved Persephone so much and thought his deep feelings justified kidnapping her and the means of beginning their union.
Demeter, Goddess of Seasons, was an overprotective Mother and wished to keep Persephone at home with her always so she would not be lonely. Demeter, in her sorrow and searching, covered the Earth in snow, making life nearly impossible for everyone in the Upper World. The Gods & Goddesses and the people of Earth, demanded Persephone be returned to her mother, as they were suffering in the deep Winter.
In an attempt to win Persephones’ love, Hades gave her all the comforts of a Queen and the praise of his people. To his avail, Persephone grew to love her captor. She had felt broken from the separation from Earth and her loving, yet controlling, Mother. Persephone began to depend on Hades, and eventually submit to loving him. She was experiencing Stockholm syndrome, which is defined by feelings of trust or affection felt in certain cases of kidnapping or hostage-taking by a victim toward a captor.
Persephone was eventually returned, by Hades to Demeter, though through trickery, Persephone had to return to the Underworld for 6 months of the year. Even now Demeter continues to cast Fall and Winter upon us, Spring and Summer returns with Persephone for half the year.
This story, read many times, reminded me of different times in my life. Times when I allowed others to make decisions for me, I took a backseat in my own life and gave away my power because I was afraid to lose the love of person who needed to control me. Times when I stayed at a job where I was harassed, sexualized and always had to be on guard. Times when I made huge life decisions solely as an attempt to receive approval and attention from my parents. Times when I loved a man who wasn’t honest or loyal, and cut me down emotionally to make me believe I didn’t deserve better. And all the times I wasn’t true to myself, I didn’t make the decision that felt most right for me and instead submit to a situation where I was perpetually uncontented because it seemed a safer path. Over time I grew to love my captor, my abusive husband, my harassing boss, my parents vision of who I should be and myself.
Whether it was a parent, partner, boss and even myself holding me captive, Persephone showed me I have a choice. I can choose not to be victimized, not to submit to an environment to an unhealthy environment with handsy boss, a cruel partner, and a parent expectation I can never live up too.
I bravely stood in the fear of the unknown, the fear of being alone or being without a job or enough money because the alternative suddenly appeared so much worse. I chose to have faith, listen to my own wisdom and become self-sustainable enough to confidently walk through this world on my own. I separated myself from the expectations of others and actively listened for my own voice every day. What did I want in my life?
To commemorate this important lesson I dreamt up a tribute in form of a tattoo to all the women that helped me on my path, that held the light so I could see my path even in the darkness. The fierce woman depicted on my foreman holds the symbol of Persephone, the triple moon, and on her face is the symbol for Hades. She wears the scar of her past on her face to remind her to never fall captive again. Every day I see this fierce woman, she is on my side and reminds me that being true to myself is the only path, to listen to guidance free from fear, and trust and believe in myself.
I invite you to watch for your James Dean, your Persephone, seek the wisdom within these myths and symbols. Whether it’s to leave a job or relationship that no longer serves your higher path, put up healthy boundaries with those who seek to control you or live your truest life by seeking your unique purpose. So mote it be.