The weather is cooling and the icy breezes of the Fall are upon us once more.
As the Mabon season comes closer, with it wanes the light, the warmth of the sun and the beauty of the Summer that once graced us with its presence. It is a time of balancing the dark and light and of accepting the transition of our descent into the darkness upcoming.
This time of year often has me reflecting on the tale of Hades, Persephone and Demeter pondering in particular the classic version of the Earth Goddess grieving for her stolen daughter. The story of the innocent one taken brutally by the evil Dark Lord and the despairing mother withholding the warmth from the world in her sadness at this great loss.
This myth has always had a soft spot in my heart.
Rebirth and cycles of the seasons, darkness and light, the battle between the perceptions of “good and evil”, and the themes of overwhelming sadness and desperation on both sides of the specter of Earth and Underworld (Demeter & Hades) as they deal with great loss and sadness.
Wait. Hades grieving? How can that be? How can a Lord of the Underworld be sad or desperate?
There were not many myths about Hades, as he dwelt in the land of the unseen and didn’t belonging to the land of the living, so he was missed from many of the tales. Life went on without him in the upper realms. Olympus was the party and he the forgotten one down below.
What a statement of revelation, to be the ruler in the Land of the Forgotten.
The Unseen King. The Shadow Lord. Unrecognized by his own people and forgotten from the myths, he literally personifies the unseen shadows that we hide, all that is not seen and acknowledged.
Is not Hades a grieving character? Like Demeter, he grieves in his darkened prison, the lack of love and light obvious in his shadow realm, even forgotten in tales. Left out from so many myths, left to rule his Shadowland undisturbed and solitary.
Persephone is light, warmth, love, life, beauty. When the shadow is penetrated by the light or death penetrated by living, rebirth occurs. The ember within begins to burn with hope. Inspired to action, he brings her into the darkness.
But, of course as the tale goes, he is unable to keep her there permanently because even at the insistence of her mother and Olympus, Persephone had eaten six pomegranate seeds down below, and now she had to time split between Earth and the Underworld.
What occurs in the Land of Shadows when warmth and love is lost to the soul in this place of darkness? Grief.
Now I’m not condoning the versions that say he kidnapped her, though many of them leave much room to interpret, especially when you consider the patriarchal versions of myths as a whole. Man steals beautiful virgin woman drags down to cave kicking and screaming to be his bride. So many of the myths and tales were twisted by the patriarchal minds of the times, the active roles of the feminine in them reduced to ashes.
She could have gone willingly, has always been a thought in the back of my mind. Maybe they fell madly in love
and her mother was mad, tormenting the Earth with cold until she returned. My thought was always that the darkness needed the light and vice versa. Who knows? It’s hard to wade through all the patriarchy in the myths, but the overtones of darkness, light, death, rebirth and balance are there.
But from this place of balance in the Underworld sparked a balance up above (as above, so below) and light in the darkness gave the Earth above equal balance for continued creation. Warmth, light and love have transformative powers on every plane of existence, and so we find the rebirthing of the cycles and the seasons within the movement of Persephone’s feet, following her from Earth to Underworld and back again.
Everything has a balance to it. Light/dark, mother/father, hot/cold, sun/moon, male/female, death/life, seen/unseen. None of them are evil, only mirror opposite reflections of the other. It’s a dance that all must be experienced in their own measure and embraced fully on this stage of life.
Hades/shadow/masculine/death aspects tend to be vilified/darkened/feared and take away the power from the Persephone/light/feminine/life aspects of the story and put it in a place of him stealing the life down into the darkness.
I tend to think that like the darkness seeking light, so the light seeks out into the darkness.
I think that Persephone was seeking the shadows/journey within just as much as it was seeking her.
Like Inanna into the darkness, she goes willingly seeking that which exists in the realm of darkness, and the unknown mysteries within. Here in this place she dives deep and learns not only of the mysteries and cycles of life but within herself and the Earth as well. Here in this place the light is penetrated, so the powerful darkness that rules below is able to be seen and in this place of being seen, is able to move with the flow of the cycles as well.
There is deep lessons in being seen in this darkest and most vulnerable place.
If like Persephone and her journey into the Underworld you are venturing into the realm of the dark, know that to everything there is a balance and even in the shadows exists a truth that will be illuminated. Also know there is always a road home at the end of your journey. Like the Priestesses of Inanna and the Earth Mother Demeter waiting on the surface, there is always life waiting at the end of the tunnel of rebirth.
So with the turning of the season, instead of seeing this time of returning balance of light and darkness as the thieving dark god stealing a Virgin bride, I see the King of the Unseen, Lord of the Shadow welcoming back his Queen of Love and Light to reign by his side until her light is called above to bring us life once more.
Long may you dance in the cycles and the seasons.