Sunday, March 7, 2010

Goddess of the Week

This is the first time Kore has come up, as Goddess of the Week; She is the springtime aspect of Persephone, the Queen of the Underworld in Greek myth.

The usual legend says that Kore was abducted and raped by Haides, the King of the Underworld, taken by force to be His wife, with the express permission of Zeus, Kore's father. Demeter, Her mother and Goddess of the Earth and crops, of course would have agreed to no such thing; and when Demeter found out that Her daughter was gone, She was so outraged by Zeus's complicity She struck the earth with famine, forcing Zeus to make Haides release Kore. It would have been a joyous reunion save for the fact that Kore had been persuaded to eat several seeds of the pomegranate while in the Underworld; anyone who had eaten of Underworld food was bound by Divine law to remain there. With the future of the fertility of the world at stake, however, as Demeter was righteously stubborn in holding out for justice, a 'compromise' was reached: Kore would spend one third of the year in the Underworld, and the remaining two-thirds with Her mother on the Earth.

Her disappearance below ground was said to be the reason for Winter, for during that time Her mother Demeter, still angry, withheld Her gifts to the Earth; but when Kore returned the Earth burst forth in blossom to welcome Her, creating Spring.

None of that, of course, is told from Kore's point of view, is it? She is simply an object to be fought over, among the Gods--it is usually phrased as Zeus 'giving' Her to Haides.

Kore means 'Maiden' or 'Girl'; Her story of death and rebirth formed the thealogical foundation for the Eleusinian Mysteries, which promised those initiated into them a blessed afterlife. What has always struck me about the Eleusinian Mysteries is that though they are at the heart properly women's mysteries, they were taken to apply to all of humankind. It is so often the other way around; men's stories are taken to be representative of all.

The Mysteries proved very popular, which is probably why the story of Kore's abduction is the best known tale of Her; in other tales, however, She is simply the Queen of the Underworld. I have always suspected that aspect came first.

Which I why I painted Her with that looming black background, to represent the Underworld and the cold dark Earth.

Aaron at Theoi tentatively translates the name Persephone as 'Destructive-Slayer'; a translation I've often seen is 'Destroyer of Light.'

She is the force that waits beneath the earth in Winter, slowly growing stronger within that darkness, to come out into the light at last in Springtime. She is the dreams and the visions nurtured over Winter which are manifested in Spring. Make no mistake, though, darkness is Her root; in some tales Styx, the Goddess of the Underworld river, Whose name means 'Hatred,' was considered Persephone's mother, not Demeter. The Underworld is Her first home.

Her appearance this week is hardly surprising, especially following last week's Gaea; or at least up here in New England it's about right, in this the second week of March, as late winter turns its way towards Spring. My front lawn, today, was a mass of pale violet crocuses; but the cold weather is not over yet, and, having lived here all my life, I know better than to declare Winter over prematurely.

So: there are signs of spring all around you at this time. Things are finally coming out into the light, both the literal flowers and the things you create and manifest. It is all beginning to emerge and unfold. But do not take too much for granted; you are not quite out of the woods yet, and there may be a setback or two. Though nothing can really stop the forward progress now.

In the southern hemisphere, though the Earth is only approaching the harvest of the autumnal equinox, and is not fully into autumn yet, there are still already signs of things slowing down. Look for them around you and within yourself; what are you getting ready to let go, or lay to sleep within you? How are things progressing towards the coming journey into the dark?

She has thick hair the color of ash, with a heavy woolen robe trailing behind Her; She is swaddled, cocooned within it, deep in the dark. Her heavy-lidded eyes are of black. What does She say?

This is my home. I emerge only reluctantly into the light. I do not like light.

I am the Destroyer of Light, after all. It is defensive, almost. Some things cannot have light if they are to grow. Or decay. They are nearly the same thing.

Be careful; do not force yourself into the light if you are not ready. There is still time to rest.

To read Her tale, go here.

The very excellent Theoi, as usual.


Debra She Who Seeks said...

I once read an alternative interpretation of this myth which posited that Persephone deliberately ate the pomegranate seeds so that she could separate from her mother, grow up into her own womanhood and have her own successful "career" as Psychopomp and Queen of the Underworld. In this telling, Demeter was a bit all-encompassing and smothering. An interesting version!

Dancing With Fey said...

I nominated you for a blog award: