LSW APRIL Persephone and Hades - A Love Story

Maiden Mother Crone - April

By Christine Schultz

Will we simply return to dust after death? It’s the great mystery. The ancients held festivals and ceremonies to recognize the great mysteries, and to answer this very question.

Persephone Queen of the Underworld - ARTIST UNKNOWN

Persephone Queen of the Underworld - ARTIST UNKNOWN

In ancient Greece, these ceremonies began around 700 BC in a place called Eleusis. The Eleusinian Mysteries with roots in Egyptian and Brahman teachings, and influences from Buddhism, were held in secrecy. Christian leaders from the ancient world, including John the Evangelist with his ties to Freemasonry, were, according to legend, initiates of the Mysteries. It is believed that many rituals of the Freemasons and Christian Church are taken from these ancient ceremonies.

The Greek Mysteries are based on the story of Demeter, the Goddess of fertility, otherwise known as Earth Goddess. Her daughter Persephone, Goddess of Springtime, was married to Hades, the King of the Underworld. Here’s a super simplified version of the myth:

Oil painting of Hades abducting Persephone. 18th Century PAINTER UNKNOWN

Oil painting of Hades abducting Persephone. 18th Century PAINTER UNKNOWN

Demeter painted the world with flowers and foliage. And humans enjoyed the bounty. They made offerings to her and the other Gods of Olympus in gratitude. Demeter’s daughter, Persephone was abducted by Hades. The King of all gods, Zeus, gave his consent. Demeter only knew her daughter was missing. While wandering the Earth searching for Persephone, she found herself in Eleusis. Distraught, she gave in to helping the King and Queen of the area nurse their infant boy, possibly to ease the pain of her lost child. Meanwhile, Persephone agreed to marry Hades and take on her role as Queen of the Underworld. A year’s time had passed and Demeter refused to bring life to Earth. The mortal beings were starving, and unable to make offerings to the Gods. Zeus approached Hades to bring about the return of the girl. Of course Hades didn’t want to agree. Hades fed Persephone pomegranate seeds; he knew that by eating from the underworld, she would be bound to him. Upon this realization, Demeter’s fury was known across the land. With Zeus’ encouragement, Hades compromised. Persephone would emerge from the underworld in springtime remaining through autumn. Demeter agreed, but would leave the Earth fallow for winter, when her daughter left for Hades and all the souls traveling through the underworld.

Clearly, the story explains the reason for seasons. Additionally, Persephone represents Spring, and Hades represents death, but also the winter season. Isn’t it interesting that spring is married to winter? Persephone genuinely loves the King of Death. It’s a true marriage as earlier versions of the myth portray. She is also devoted to her post, caring for the souls who travel the underworld. She also loves to resurface and delight in the spring, summer and autumn with her mother.

Persephone and Hermes in the palace and the Danaides below, 325-300 BCE

Persephone and Hermes in the palace and the Danaides below, 325-300 BCE

It’s known that initiates of the Mysteries looked to the future, even death, in a happy, anxiety-free way. As we draw closer to death and it overcomes us, are we all taken by death in order to become betrothed to new life? With their fearless and joyous understanding of things, was this what the initiates of the Mysteries learned?