Lessons From Persephone
We’re in a time of immense change. Everything we knew is no longer… and it’s not over. With winter comes death, letting go of anything certain and a kind of transformation different from any other season.
If anyone knows about the cycles of change, it’s Persephone. In Greek mythology Persephone is both floral maiden and Queen of the Underworld. She knows the cycles of death and rebirth, the changing of the seasons and she finds beauty and purpose in it all, especially in the darkness of winter.
She spends her time during fall and winter in the Underworld with her love, Hades. She is Queen there, bringing her sweetness to a place of darkness and death. It’s there that she finds love, in her consort, Hades. It’s there she finds purpose, guiding lost souls. It’s there she finds herself, the fullness of her, her sexuality, her darkness, her fierce Queen.
When Persephone returns back home in the spring and summer, her mother, Demeter, goddess of the harvest, allows the crops to grow once again. She mourns the loss of her daughter each fall and winter, and thus all the crops die. So Persephone gets to experience the beauty of spring, everything coming back to life just in time for her arrival. There’s a magic to spring, an excitement of new life. It’s rejuvenating to her soul.
Persephone loves both, the warmth and radiance of the earth and the depths and mystery of the Underworld. She doesn’t fear the darkness, or death, instead she finds her home there and her deepest truest self.
We’re moving from fall to winter. No matter where you are in the world, we’re entering collectively, the quiet, solitude of winter. With fall we have death. The leaves turn to shades of amber, crimson red and gold, as they prepare to fall away. There’s a business to fall, the movement of change.
But in winter, all is still. It’s true death, true rest. Everything slows down, all energy is conserved, in order to survive the cold winter. And what happens in the winter is just important as any other season. For trees, cell membranes change becoming more pliable, sugar acts like antifreeze and the tree gets to work, preserving its inner most core. It may appear dead, without its leaves or any sign of life, but inside, it’s very much alive.
The focus is inward, deep within its trunk and roots. The parts you can’t see. It’s the equivalent of our subconscious. The underground parts deep beneath the surface, just waiting for us to uncover them.
As we move into winter, rather than fear the death and isolation, the call is to embrace it. To use this time to go into our own root system and explore all that is there. The hidden, the dormant parts of ourselves waiting to be awakened. It’s where the real beauty lies. We fear it because uncovering these dormant parts of self changes everything. We can no longer settle for the mediocre job, the wrong relationship, the surface level interactions. And awakening that part of Self, has the potential to change everything.
“Once the soul awakens, the search begins and you can never go back. From then on, you are inflamed with a special longing that will never again let you linger in the lowlands of complacency and partial fulfillment.”
— John O’Donohue
As we enter this winter and death is all around us, we’re being asked to look at our relationship to death. Death is tragic and scary, it’s the greatest loss we can experience in this human life. The pain and grief it causes is very much a part of this life, to feel all of it is part of our human experience. But to the Soul, death is just another part of the vast journey, which our human minds will never be able to fully comprehend. It’s my belief that the inner most part of ourselves, our Soul, never dies.
It’s in winter, in the still quiet void of nothingness, that our Soul is most alive, asking for us to listen, to trust, and begin to know this truest part of Self.