December 13, 2019
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persephoneThe Greek Gods correspondences for Malkuth are Diana of Ephesus, Persephone and [Adonis] Psyche. (Aleister Crowley, 777,  p. 8) Persephone is the virgin Earth and her legends indicate the adventures of the undedeemed soul; and Ceres is the maiden goddess of the Earth, too. Other are Lakshmi65 and the Sphinx,66 all attributed as representing the fertility of the Earth and of all creatures. (Israel Regardie, A Garden of Pomegrenates, p. 54-55)

In Malkuth, the lowest of the Sephiroth, the sphere of the physical world of matter, wherein incarnate the exiled Neshamoth from the divine palace, there abides the Shechinah, thye spiritual Presence of Ain Soph as a heritage to manking and an ever-present reminder of spiritual verities. That is why there is written “Kether is in Malkuth, and Malkuth is in Kether, though after another manner.” The Zohar would imply that the real Shechinah, the real Divine Presence, is allocated to Binah whence it never descendes, but that the Shechinah in Malkuth is an eidolon or Daughter of the Great Supernatural Mother.67 Isaac Myer suggests that “it is considered by Qabalists as the executive energy or power of Binah, the Holy Spirit or the Upper Mother.” (Israel Regardie, A Garden of Pomegrenates, p. 55 )

In Greek mythology, Persephone ( GreekΠερσεφόνη), also called Kore (“the maiden”),[n 1] is the daughter of Zeus and the harvest-goddess Demeter, and queen of the underworldHomer describes her as the formidable, venerable majestic queen of the underworld, who carries into effect the curses of men upon the souls of the dead. Persephone was abducted by Hades, the god-king of the underworld.[1] The myth of her abduction represents her function as the personification of vegetation which shoots forth in spring and withdraws into the earth after harvest; hence she is also associated with spring as well as the fertility of vegetation. Similar myths appear in the Orient, in the cults of male gods like AttisAdonis and Osiris,[2] and in MinoanCrete.

Persephone as a vegetation goddess and her mother Demeter were the central figures of the Eleusinian mysteries that predated the Olympian pantheon, and promised to the initiated a more enjoyable prospect after death. Persephone is further said to have become by Zeus the mother of DionysusIacchus, or Zagreususually in orphic tradition. The origins of her cult are uncertain, but it was based on very old agrarian cults of agricultural

Working Title/Artist: Fragment from the Eleusinian ReliefDepartment: Greek & Roman ArtCulture/Period/Location: HB/TOA Date Code: Working Date: 27 B.C.-14 A.D

communities.

Persephone was commonly worshipped along with Demeter, and with the same mysteries. To her alone were dedicated the mysteries celebrated at Athens in the month of Anthesterion. In Classical Greek art, Persephone is invariably portrayed robed; often carrying a sheaf of grain. She may appear as a mystical divinity with a sceptre and a little box, but she was mostly represented in the act of being carried off by Hades.

In Roman mythology, she is called Proserpina, and her mother Ceres.

In a Linear B (Mycenean Greek) inscription on a tablet found at Pylos dated 1400–1200 BC, John Chadwick reconstructs[n 2] the name of a goddess *Preswa who could be identified with Persa, daughter of Oceanus and finds speculative the further identification with the first element of Persephone.[4] Persephonē (GreekΠερσεφόνη) is her name in the Ionic Greek of epic literature. The Homeric form of her name is Persephoneia (Περσεφονεία,[5] Persephoneia). In other dialects she was known under variant names: Persephassa (Περσεφάσσα), Persephatta (Περσεφάττα), or simply Korē(Κόρη, “girl, maiden”).[6] Plato calls her Pherepapha (Φερέπαφα) in his Cratylus, “because she is wise and touches that which is in motion”. There are also the forms Periphona (Πηριφόνα) and Phersephassa (Φερσέφασσα). The existence of so many different forms shows how difficult it was for the Greeks to pronounce the word in their own language and suggests that the name has probably a pre-Greek origin.[7]

An alternative etymology is from φέρειν φόνονpherein phonon, “to bring (or cause) death”.[8]

Another mythical personage of the name of Persephione is called a daughter of Minyas and the mother of Chloris, a nymph of spring, flower and new growth.[8] The Minyans were a group considered autochthonous, but some scholars assert that they were the first wave of Proto-Greek speakers in the 2nd millennium BC.[9]

Persephone used to live far away from the other deities, a goddess within Nature herself before the days of planting seeds and nurturing plants. In the Olympian telling, the gods Hermes and Apollo had wooed Persephone; but Demeter rejected all their gifts and hid her daughter away from the company of the Olympian deities.[67] The story of her abduction by Hades against her will, is traditionally referred to as the Rape of Persephone. It is mentioned briefly in Hesiod‘s Theogony,[68] and told in considerable detail in the Homeric Hymn to DemeterZeus, it is said, permitted Hades, who was in love with the beautiful Persephone, to carry her off as her mother Demeter was not likely to allow her daughter to go down to Hades. Persephone was gathering flowers with the Oceanids along with Artemis and Athena—the Homeric Hymn says—in a field when Hades came to abduct her, bursting through a cleft in the earth.[69] Demeter, when she found her daughter had disappeared, searched for her all over the earth with torches. In most versions she forbids the earth to produce, or she neglects the earth and in the depth of her despair she causes nothing to grow. Helios, the sun, who sees everything, eventually told Demeter what had happened and at length she discovered the place of her abode. Finally, Zeus, pressed by the cries of the hungry people and by the other deities who also heard their anguish, forced Hades to return Persephone.[70]

Hades Snatches Up Persephone. Is that Athena or Ares asking Hades not to kidnap Persephone? [Painting by Peter Paul Rubens, c. 1636.]

Hades Snatches Up Persephone. Is that Athena or Ares asking Hades not to kidnap Persephone? [Painting by Peter Paul Rubens, c. 1636.]

Hades indeed complied with the request, but first he tricked her, giving her some pomegranate seeds to eat. Persephone was released by Hermes, who had been sent to retrieve her, but because she had tasted food in the underworld, she was obliged to spend a third of each year (the winter months) there, and the remaining part of the year with the gods above.[71] With the later writers Ovid and Hyginus, Persephone’s time in the underworld becomes half the year.[72]

Various local traditions place Persephone’s abduction in a different location. The Sicilians, among whom her worship was probably introduced by the Corinthian and Megarian colonists, believed that Hades found her in the meadows near Enna, and that a well arose on the spot where he descended with her into the lower world. The Cretans thought that their own island had been the scene of the rape, and the Eleusinians mentioned the Nysian plain in Boeotia, and said that Persephone had descended with Hades into the lower world at the entrance of the western Oceanus. Later accounts place the rape in Attica, near Athens, or near Eleusis.[70]

The Homeric hymn mentions the Nysion (or Mysion), probably a mythical place which didn’t exist on the map. The locations of this mythical place may simply be conventions to show that a magically distant chthonic land of myth was intended in the remote past.[20] Before Persephone was abducted by Hades, the shepherd Eumolpus and the swineherd Eubuleus, saw a girl being carried off into the earth which had violently opened up, in a black chariot, driven by an invisible driver. Eubuleus was feeding his pigs at the opening to the underworld when Persephone was abducted by Plouton. His swine were swallowed by the earth along with her, and the myth is an etiology for the relation of pigs with the ancient rites in Thesmophoria,[73] and in Eleusis.

In the hymn, Persephone returns and she is reunited with her mother near Eleusis. Demeter as she has been promised established her mysteries (orgies) when the Eleusinians built for her a temple near the spring of Callichorus. These were awful mysteries, which were not allowed to be uttered. The uninitiated would spent a miserable existence in the gloomy space of Hades, after death.[n 5]

In some versions, Ascalaphus informed the other deities that Persephone had eaten the pomegranate seeds. When Demeter and her daughter were reunited, the Earth flourished with vegetation and color, but for some months each year, when Persephone returned to the underworld, the earth once again became a barren realm. This is an origin story to explain the seasons.

In an earlier version, Hecate rescued Persephone. On an Attic red-figured bell kraterof c. 440 BC in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Persephone is rising as if up stairs from a cleft in the earth, while Hermes stands aside; Hecate, holding two torches, looks back as she leads her to the enthroned Demeter.[74]

The 10th-century Byzantine encyclopedia Suda introduces a goddess of a blessed afterlife assured to Orphic mystery initiates. This Macaria is asserted to be the daughter of Hades, but no mother is mentioned.[75]

In the myth Pluto abducts Persephone to be his wife and the queen of his realm.[76]Pluto (Πλούτων, Ploutōn) was a name for the ruler of the underworld; the god was also known as Hades, a name for the underworld itself. The name Pluton was conflated with that of Ploutos (Πλούτος Ploutos, “wealth”), a god of wealth, because mineral wealth was found underground, and because Pluto as a chthonic god ruled the deep earth that contained the seeds necessary for a bountiful harvest.[76] Ploutonis lord of the dead, but as Persephone’s husband he has serious claims to the powers of fertility.[77]

In the Theogony of HesiodDemeter was united with the hero Iasion in Crete and she bore Ploutos.[68] This union seems to be a reference to a hieros gamos (ritual copulation) to ensure the earth’s fertility.[77] This ritual copulation appears in MinoanCrete, in many Near Eastern agricultural societies, and also in the Anthesteria.[n 6]

Nilsson believes that the original cult of Ploutos (or Pluto) in Eleusis was similar with the Minoan cult of the “divine child”, who died in order to be reborn. The child was abandoned by his mother and then it was brought up by the powers of nature. Similar myths appear in the cults of Hyakinthos (Amyklai), Erichthonios (Athens), and later in the cult of Dionysos.[79]

The Greek version of the abduction myth is related to corn – important and rare in the Greek environment – and the return (ascent) of Persephone was celebrated at the autumn sowing. Pluto (Ploutos) represents the wealth of the corn that was stored in underground silos or ceramic jars (pithoi), during summer months. Similar subterranean pithoi were used in ancient times for burials and Pluto is fused with Hades, the King of the realm of the dead. During summer months, the Greek Corn-Maiden (Kore) is lying in the corn of the underground silos, in the realm of Hades and she is fused with Persephone, the Queen of the underworld. At the beginning of the autumn, when the seeds of the old crop are laid on the fields, she ascends and is reunited with her mother Demeter, for at that time the old crop and the new meet each other. For the initiated, this union was the symbol of the eternity of human life that flows from the generations which spring from each other.[80][81]

Persephone held an ancient role as the dread queen of the Underworld, within which tradition it was forbidden to speak her name. This tradition comes from her conflation with the very old chthonic divinity Despoina (the mistress), whose real name could not be revealed to anyone except those initiated to her mysteries.[61] As goddess of death she was also called a daughter of Zeus and Styx,[84] the river that formed the boundary between Earth and the underworld. Homer describes her as the formidable, venerable majestic queen of the shades, who carries into effect the curses of men upon the souls of the dead, along with her husband Hades.[85] In the reformulation of Greek mythology expressed in the Orphic Hymns, Dionysus and Melinoe are separately called children of Zeus and Persephone.[86] Groves sacred to her stood at the western extremity of the earth on the frontiers of the lower world, which itself was called “house of Persephone”.[87]

Her central myth served as the context for the secret rites of regeneration at Eleusis,[88] which promised immortality to initiates.

Persephone was worshipped along with her mother Demeter and in the same mysteries. Her cults included agrarian magic, dancing, and rituals. The priests used special vessels and holy symbols, and the people participated with rhymes. In Eleusisthere is evidence of sacred laws and other inscriptions.[24]

The Cult of Demeter and the Maiden is found at Attica, in the main festivals Thesmophoria and Eleusinian mysteries and in a lot of local cults. These festivals were almost always celebrated at the autumn sowing, and at full-moon according to the Greek tradition. In some local cults the feasts were dedicated to Demeter.

Thesmophoria, were celebrated in Athens, and the festival was widely spread in Greece. This was a festival of secret women-only rituals connected with marriage customs and commemorated the third of the year, in the month Pyanepsion, when Kore was abducted and Demeter abstained from her role as goddess of harvest and growth. The ceremony involved sinking sacrifices into the earth by night and retrieving the decaying remains of pigs that had been placed in the megara of Demeter, (trenches and pits or natural clefts in rock), the previous year. These were placed on altars, mixed with seeds, then planted.[89] Pits rich in organic matter at Eleusis have been taken as evidence that the Thesmophoria was held there as well as in other demes of Attica.[90] This agrarian magic was also used in the cult of the earth-goddesses potniai (mistresses) in the Cabeirian, and in Knidos.[91]

The festival was celebrated over three days. The first was the “way up” to the sacred space, the second, the day of feasting when they ate pomegranate seeds and the third was a meat feast in celebration of Kalligeneia a goddess of beautiful birth. Zeuspenetrated the mysteries as Zeus– Eubuleus[89] which is an euphemistical name of Hades (Chthonios Zeus).[16] In the original myth which is an etiology for the ancient rites, Eubuleus was a swineherd who was feeding his pigs at the opening to the underworld when Persephone was abducted by Plouton. His swine were swallowed by the earth along with her.[73]

The Eleusinian mysteries was a festival celebrated at the autumn sowing in the city of Eleusis. Inscriptions refer to “the Goddesses” accompanied by the agricultural god Triptolemos (probably son of Ge and Oceanus),[92] and “the God and the Goddess” (Persephone and Plouton) accompanied by Eubuleus who probably led the way back from the underworld.[93] The myth was represented in a cycle with three phases: the “descent”, the “search”, and the “ascent”, with contrasted emotions from sorrow to joy which roused the mystae to exultation. The main theme was the ascent of Persephone and the reunion with her mother Demeter.[80] The festival activities included dancing, probably across the Rharian field, where according to the myth the first corn grew.

At the beginning of the feast, the priests filled two special vessels and poured them out, the one towards the west, and the other towards the east. The people looking both to the sky and the earth shouted in a magical rhyme “rain and conceive”. In a ritual, a child was initiated from the hearth (the divine fire). It was the ritual of the “divine child” who originally was Ploutos. In the Homeric hymn the ritual is connected with the myth of the agricultural god Triptolemos[56] The high point of the celebration was “an ear of corn cut in silence”, which represented the force of the new life. The idea of immortality didn’t exist in the mysteries at the beginning, but the initiated believed that they would have a better fate in the underworld. Death remained a reality, but at the same time a new beginning like the plant which grows from the buried seed.[24] In the earliest depictions Persephone is an armless and legless deity, who grows out of the ground.[94]

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