Welcome to dVerse! It’s the beginning of August and in the ancient Celtic calendar it’s Lughnasa. And if you’re more of a Saxon, it’s Lammastide. It’s time to celebrate the grain harvest.
Where does Persephone fit into this? Well, here’s the basic story:
Persephone was the beautiful daughter of Ceres, the goddess of agriculture, fruit and grains. She brought the spring with her and scattered flowers around her. Her uncle, Hades, the dark god of the underworld and the dead fell in love with her. One day, as she was enjoying the flowers and the sunshine he burst out of a cave and carried her off.
Persephone’s mother, Ceres, was distraught. She set off to search for her daughter. She neglected her duties as an agricultural goddess – crops failed and the people starved. I guess even Hades realised something was amiss as all those dead souls crowded into his kingdom.
Zeus, king of the gods (and brother to Hades and Ceres – and father to Persephone. I know), intervened. He brokered an agreement between Ceres and Hades – Persephone could return to her mother if she hadn’t eaten anything while she was in the underworld.
Unfortunately, it transpired that Persephone had eaten 6 pomegranate seeds. Faced with total starvation on earth, Zeus decreed that Persephone would spend 6 months in the underworld and 6 months above ground. And that’s how seasons came about – in the autumn and winter Ceres mourns for her daughter and vegetation dies back. In the spring, Persephone returns bringing fertility with her.
I should point out that there are lots of variations to this myth. In some, Persephone enters the underworld of her own volition. In some she’s tricked – or forced – into eating.
All images taken from Pinterest. There’s a lot of Persephone fan art on Pinterest, if you like that sort of thing.
How does this relate to Lammastide? Well, one interpretation of this legend is that Persephone personifies the grain – planted underground in the autumn, to grow and flourish in the spring. She is the spirit of the corn.
This is such a rich myth. There are some powerful archetypes here – the innocent young girl, the grieving mother, the reckless lover, the great king of the gods. Or perhaps you see a girl desperate to escape a possessive mother, or an angry woman who is prepared to destroy mankind to get what she wants. Is Hades an impetuous lover or a controlling coercive husband? What about Zeus? He’s head of this dysfunctional family. There are also those seasonal elements – spring merging into summer; the first cold mornings of autumn – those first frosts that kill off the last of the summer leaves. The bleakness of winter.
Tonight I’d like you to take inspiration from this myth. I’ve tried to keep my retelling as minimal as possible to give you space to use your imagination. Give me a poem that bubbles up from this mixed up family saga, a poem that smells of spring, or is touched by the dark fingers of the lord of the dead.
You know what to do:
- Write a poem
- Link your post back to here
- Link up to Mr Linky
- Wander the spring meadows and the deep underground caverns of your fellow poets and marvel at their creations