Sunday, March 17, 2013

On Persephone and Spring

The weather is absolute crap here, but Spring is coming, I can just feel it. To help it along, I'm posting a story my good friend Ragnild wrote for me after I asked her to help me set up this crazy idea for an on-line magazine. I published it in the first issue, back in December of 2010, and I want to repost it again today to help hurry along that Spring feeling. Also, I came across this on Facebook and could not help but share:


"Have you ever heard the tale of how Winter came to all the lands? No? Then sit down by the fire and enjoy the story my child. You see, when I was your age, so very long ago, my grandfather told me the story of how Winter came to our lands. It was of nearly forgotten, ancient, times. Back when the Gods still walked the Earth, when they were still revered and loved.

Then, so very long ago, Demeter, Goddess of harvest, walked the Earth together with her daughter Persephone. Demeter’s daughter was the Goddess of Spring and she made sure the lands were gentle and lush and food was plentiful. People were happy. Both Goddesses were loved and brought much joy and warmth upon the world.

All was well until one sun filled day, Demeter and Persephone were out in the fields. Demeter performed her duties as a Goddess and made sure the harvests would go well and the people would have plenty to eat. Persephone, enjoying the beautiful day, had decided to gather flowers for her mother. 

What is that you're asking? What kind of flowers? Well, there were many beautiful flowers growing in the field, but the most beautiful flower in the entire field, the one that grabbed Persephone's attention was a bright yellow narcissus. It was perfect; the yellow deep and rich like the sun on a cloudless day, its stalk perfectly straight and its leaves without flaws. 

It was so perfect and fragrant, the young Goddess couldn't help but pick it and once she did the ground split beneath her feet and the Earth swallowed her up. It was a frightening experience as poor Persephone had no idea what had just happened to her. Persephone landed and Hades, Lord of the Underworld, came storming in riding his golden chariot. Immediately Persephone knew where she was and it did not calm her fears. 

Hades took her with him and, to Persephone's utter shock, proposed to her. He told her how much he loved her and how he had watched her from afar, how he yearned for her and wanted her to become the Queen of the Underworld. Persephone couldn't stand the thought of the endless darkness that awaited her in there but Hades would not let her go.

As Persephone did not return later in the day, Demeter began to worry, as all mothers do. She searched and searched but her beloved daughter was nowhere to be found. Hopeless, she wandered around the lands and neglected her duty as the Goddess of Harvest because of it. 

With Persephone gone and Demeter bitterly searching for her, the lands began to wilt and die, grass turning a muddy brown and trees losing their lustrous leaves. Harvests failed and the people began to despair.

It was during her travels Demeter learned that it was Hades who had taken her daughter. She begged with Zeus, Persephone's father, to convince Hades to release her daughter. Zeus could not stand to see the suffering of the people and of Demeter. He told Demeter that he would see what he could do, but he did not promise her anything. 

He left to find Hades in the Underworld. When Zeus returned, he told Demeter that he had been able to work out a deal with Hades. Persephone could return but only if she hadn't eaten from the Underworld's gardens. And before you ask, yes, the Underworld does have gardens. How else can they feed the souls that live there? Now, let me continue with my story child, for it is getting late.

Now, as you may have noticed, Persephone had been gone for quite some time and even Gods and Goddesses get hungry at times. Hades had seen her grow hungry and had brought her a pomegranate. Little did Persephone know what would happen if she ate from his gardens and took the offering gladly.

Demeter returned to the underworld together with Zeus, wanting to see her daughter. Their meeting would have been a festive one, had it not been for the fact Persephone had already eated from the fruit when her mother arrived. 

Demeter cried bitter tears as she told her daughter of the deal. Persephone had grown quiet and pale, knowing Hades had known about the deal before offering her the pomegranate. Luckily for her she hadn't eaten it entirely and she had only swallowed six seeds. 

The Lord of the Underworld would not shirk the agreement he had made with Zeus and agreed that Persephone would stay in the Underworld for six months every year; one month for every seed she had eaten. 

When Persephone was away with Hades in the Underworld, Demeter would weep and depress, choosing to walk the Earth and travel instead of acting out her duties as Goddess of Harvest. And it is so that Winter came upon us, only to be chased away by Persephone when she was free from her duties as Hades' wife and Queen of the Underworld."


2 comments:

UltravioletAngel said...

awesome story, you will make a good grandmother one day Elani. thanks for sharing te FB commic strip too . i loved it

Elani Temperance said...

@UltravioletAngel: Thank you! I love this story as well, and think my friend did a great job with it.