Just when winter has become a habit,
an old coat the sun peels off with a touch.
Your foot leaves a signature in new mud,
shiny as a new skin or fresh, primed canvas.
You notice a blade of grass:
green, defiantly green.
Inhale, you take your coat off
a crocus opens
in the blue iris
of someone’s glance. —Lauren Raine
Somehow the Spring Equinox has arrived, this winter, as other winters, has been survived, the drumbeat of Mother Earth beneath feet bared is quickening, the hum of life vibrates, the budding of trees is again a cyclical magic. If I still lived in Vermont, as I once did, I would be hearing the sounds of snow melting in little trickles, a kind of underground budding and quickening reflected in the eyes I look into. The Equinoxes are all about the constant Balance of life’s seeming dualities, the serpentine movement from Death into Life and Life into Death, light and dark, yin and yang. To me, Persephone is the Goddess of the Equinoxes, because her journey from the underworld into spring is the transformative journey of nature.
Before she earns her name, Persephone is Kore, the youthful aspect of the Triad Goddess, the naive Spring Maiden. In Greek myth, Kore, the daughter of Demeter, is seized by Hades, and taken into the underworld. Demeter, in her grief, causes the world to die – no plants bear fruit, no bees pollinate, no flowers bloom. At last an agreement is made in which Persephone can be returned to her mother……..but because the youthful Goddess has eaten 6 pomegranate seeds, she must return to the underworld for part of the year to be the wife of Hades. It is Hecate, with Her two torches, who assists Kore to return from the darkness into the world of light, and Kore matures into Persephone, the dual and integral Goddess of both life and of death.
“Light is the left hand of darkness” —Ursula Leguin
This myth partakes, and is probably derived from, the much earlier Sumerian myth of the Descent of Inanna, wherein the Goddess descends into the underworld realm to encounter her Dark Sister, Ereshigal, Queen of Death, and it is the husband of Inanna, Dumuzi, who must travel for part of the year into the Underworld realm to become the husband of Ereshigal as well as Inanna. In both these myths there is great wisdom about not only the cycles of the natural world, but our own participation in these cycles, physically, emotionally, psychically. Without the sleep of winter there can be no exuberance of spring, without incubation there can be no birth. If we attempt to remain in perpetual youth, we cannot mature into the empowerment of adulthood. If we refuse to allow ourselves to grieve, we cannot heal and move into new ways of being.
“Persephone did what Inanna did. Persephone’s myth is about moving into a new state of being in the eternal cycles of life. All the soul riches, the knowledge, the art, everything was running down the drain into Hades and it stayed there. It stopped circulating. This was the myth of the descent of Inanna as well; everything went down to Ereshkigal, the keeper of the Underworld, and got stuck there in the universal unconscious. Ereshkigal, the mind of the underworld, was on strike – she refused to process. We can look at both of these stories, the stories of Persephone and Inanna, and see that these two Goddesses are pathfinders. Pathfinders to the unconscious, to the other worlds. Persephone, Kore who becomes Persephone, creates something new that was not thought of before her journey. And that’s a very important myth for our time. And it’s also why the Eleusinian Mystery, which was about Persephone and Demeter, was the defining experience of mature spirituality in the Mediterranean basin for 2,500 years.” –Elizabeth Fuller, The Independent Eye
So today on the Equinox, I, along with the shades of an ancient world and the unborn children of the future, honor the return of bright Persephone to the bright fields of her Mother, Demeter, Mother Earth, who is also the Mother of us all. May a deep understanding of Balance enter our world on this sacred day, to enrich the fertile seasons ahead, may that same Balance bless all our lives.