(Astrology Explored) Daughter of immortal deities, called the Goddess of Spring, Persephone’s story is Scorpionic in nature. Her birth, her life and her eventual role as Queen of the Underworld speaks to us about unrelenting forces that transform our existence.
The French say, “Mama, yes; Papa, maybe” and certainly this is true in Persephone’s case. Some accounts have Neptune as her father, others, Zeus. As with all things Scorpionic, there is more than a little mystery involved here.
The daughter of Demeter was given more than one praise of her beauty in Greek literature. She was called “white armed” and “slimmed ankled”. As Persephone came into puberty, all the male gods vied for her hand in marriage a situation that was said to be sparked by Aphrodite (Venus) herself. Aphrodite became concerned that Persephone would turn out to live life as a virgin just as her cousins Artemis and Athena. She, in a moment of Plutonian overkill instructed her son Eros to let loose his arrows on every god in Olympus. Even Zeus was so struck by Persephone’s beauty that:
The ruler of the universe, the charioteer of heaven, bowed his neck to desire–for all his greatness no thunderbolts, no lightnings helped him against Aphrodite in arms: he left the house of Hera, he refused the bed of Dione, he threw away the love of Deo, he fled from Themis, he deserted Leto – no charm was left for him but only union with Persephoneia.
Demeter was so alarmed by all this attention towards her daughter, that she sought the advice of an astrologer, which I include here in its entirety because of the fascinating detail of the astrologer’s process.
She hastened with quick foot to the house of Astraios the god of prophecy [or more specifically astrology] . . . She laid her left hand on the knees of the kindly ancient, and with her right touched his deepflowing beard in supplication. She recounted all her daughter’s wooers and craved a comfortable oracle; for divinations can steal away anxieties by means of hopes to come. Nor did old Astraios refuse. He learnt the details of the day when her only child was new born, and the exact time and veritable course of the season which gave her birth; then he bent the turning fingers of his hands and measured the moving circle of the ever-recurring number counting from hand to hand in double exchange [reckoning the number of days in the years of her life on his fingers]. He called to a servant, and Asterion lifted a round revolving sphere, the shape of the sky, the image of the universe, and laid it upon the lid of a chest. Here the ancient got to work. He turned it upon its pivot, and directed this gaze round the circle of the Zodiac, scanning in this place and that the planets and fixt stars . . . When he had noticed everything and reckoned the circuit of the stars, he put away the ever-revolving sphere in its roomy box, the sphere with its curious surface; and in answer to the goddess he mouthed out a triple oracle of prophetic sound : `Fond mother Demeter, when the rays of the Moon are stolen under a shady cone and her light is gone, guard against a robber-bridegroom for Perephoneia, a secret ravisher of your unsmirched girl, if the threads of the Moirai can be persuaded. You will see before marriage a false and secret bedfellow come unforeseen, a half-monster cunning-minded: since I perceive the western point Ares the wife-stealer [the planet Mars] walking with the Paphian [the planet Venus], and I notice the Drakon is rising beside them both . . . ’
Concerned and alarmed by this prophecy she bore her daughter away in a chariot drawn by dragons to a secret cave. The dragons were then given the task of protecting Persephone. All seeing Zeus however, found the hiding place, and transforming himself into a dragon, seducing Persephone with cunning. He lured the girl into a sleep by surrounding her with his soft coils and sweet kisses. Their union produced Zagreus, who by virtue of his father’s deception, was born In the snake like shape of a dragon. Zeus took this child to Olympus, intending to set him on the throne of heaven, but the Titans rebelled against Zeus decision and tore the child into pieces. Grief stricken Zeus put the pieces of Zagreus’ heart in a drink and gave it to Semele, the moon goddess to drink. She became pregnant with this genetic material and bore to Zeus, the god Dionysis, known to the Romans as Bacchus, another god whose mystery religion was revolved around transformation through the consumption of wine. Thus Persephone was associated with two mystery religions, that of the Eleusian Mysteries and the rites of Dionysis.
Persephone herself was forever transformed by her foray into the Underworld. On the surface, Persephone can be viewed as a voiceless victim. Her fate is decided by Zeus, her husband and her mother. But Pluto is seductive for sure. Unlike Zeus, Pluto is intent on making her a permanent fixture in his life. He makes solemn pledges to her:
“… I shall be no unfitting husband for you among the deathless gods, that am own brother to father Zeus. And while you are here, you shall rule all that lives and moves and shall have the greatest rights among the deathless gods: those who defraud you and do not appease your power with offerings, reverently performing rites and paying fit gifts, shall be punished for evermore.” (Hades to Persephone, Homeric Hymn to Demeter 2.363).
Was it the power that Pluto offered that ultimately seduced her, or was it the dark charm of lord of the Underworld? Those among us who have experience of love that can not be denied know the addictive nature of such relationships. Whether by one or both, Persephone is initiated in to the sexual world as a wife.
There is evidence that Persephone’s own nature may have had an manipulative element to it. Persephone blamed Hades for the consumption of the pomegranate seeds, telling her mother that he secretly forced the seeds in her mouth. Yet how he “secretly forced the seeds” in to her mouth is yet another story. She would have needed to take the food willingly for the doom of Hades to fall upon her.
There are other stories of Persephone’s Scorpionic nature. When Venus gave Persephone the youth Adonis to care for, the dark goddess was just as enthralled as Venus with his beauty and refused to give him back.
Hades had one affair, with the nymph Menthe, who jealous Persephone trampled and transformed in the mint plant. (Crushed mint was added to a drink made of grain that was said to be drunk by her mother Demeter, and possibly was served during the enactment of the Eleusian Mysteries). Clearly, Persephone was not about to share her dark husband with anyone. Hades was not known to step out on her again.
And despite her initial (and probably faint) protests over her marriage, Persephone fulfilled her role as Goddess of the Underworld, sometimes even displaying more power than Hades himself.
Here is the influence of the Pluto we know, secretive, controlling, manipulative. The story of Persephone is illustrative of the lies, obsessions and jealousy as any one subject to Venusian, Scorpionic and Plutonic forces, the epitome of Venus in Scorpio.
As with all those under the influence of a Pluto influenced Venus, Persephone epitomizes the archetype of transformation. From innocent goddess of the spring to the queen of the underworld, Persephone held the promise of life and ultimately the promise of the life to come.
This is where the idea is born.
soft green meadows gently disappearing into fall
sounds of dying, scent of woodfire and candlelight
no separation between what is becoming
accept and be revealed
summer’s wild adventures
spring was a torrent of clarity, precious rain,
Earth coarse, ready for fecund pleasure
Queen of night in daylight’s realm
obsessed in flowering
roses and daffodils
valleys and nubile hills
all is vanity and laughing vice
“But, Mother, I’m not a nice girl.
I’m a creature of the breeze; secure in shadow;
alive in the cutting edge of the storm.”
Myth in revision
standing at the back of the playground
learning theater, tucking metaphors
through interstices of sense and dream
In spring, kicking stones along sandy riverbeds
reading the classics
expecting valor, glory, dramatic lines
the stink of rot where flowers bloom
ancient feuds, retaliations, rage
tyrannosaurus feeding future waste,
absorbing a zeitgeist of want, of predation
within greed swollen seed infectious fear
search for further truth
mythology frustrates, curls back on its own ash
burn with hazy summer wine and dance
feet connecting dust to sky — but only in designated
spheres, with designated peers, self-selected inhibitions
sweat out poison into the ground; now, eat the bounty
midsummer farce, far from clear, far from sunrise,
counting out the chimes as if time were treasure
silly summer madness as if what matters
is so circumscribed, so predictable
Early autumn firelight
reminiscent of witch hunts, ghosts of calvary,
dire warnings and endless hide and strike
the game, the funhouse, turns deadly
sanctuary calls, demanding sacrifice
the noble phoenix fed on frankenseed
can not rise
skies descend, dark mirroring
smell the woodsmoke, intoxicating, soft and sweet
masks the taste of bitter bile, secret vomiting
starving despite harvest’s gay array of treats
faded, nearly blind, falling in and out of
shamanic fever, primeval native dancers beyond sight,
ripple of tribal beat at the periphery
ecstatic vision dark/light/agony and brilliant breaks
seasons, years, moments of clarity
no need to travel, to invent boundaries
dance of the highlands warmth and sustenance
October 23, 2009
This is lovely. Thank you.