As Spring unveils so, myth tells us, Persephone returns to the the earth once more and her mother Demeter and the world rejoices. The darkness of winter and the darkness of the depths below where she has spent the Winter are now replaced by growth, light and new life.
However, Persephone is no longer the carefree maiden but now re-emerges as Queen of the Underworld who understands the mysteries of life and death.
Her story has persisted from Ancient Greece where it was associated with the Eleusian mysteries . Her growth from girl to a fertile and empowered woman still continues to teach and inspire. For all of us,no matter our age, somewhere deep within there is a maiden, exuberant and fertile who can assist us to live joyfully and creatively.
This rendition of Persphone was made for GAIA in 2008. It was a huge undertaking for me as this work symbolised a personal emergence. A large piece, (2.2mlong by 1.4m wide), it was a significant departure for the small painted items that were my usual form of art for many years. It was through the encouragement of Patricia Corner that this was achieved .
A combination of fabric painting, applique, pieced patchwork and embroidery it was embellished by heavy quilting in silver metallic thread. The design in the background just emerged and took on its own rythmn flowing like the waters of life from which the Goddess has drunk. She emerges for the depth holding a pomegranate whose seeds she ate, as the myth relates, keeping her below for part of the year. For many cultures the seeds represented fertility and immortality as well as a connection with Spring. The colour of the fruit is the colour of bood the essence of life and women’s moonflow.
I feel that Persphone also signifies a union of light and dark, both the bright maiden and the dark maiden, as she evolves and journeys transforming from an innocent, carefree girl to a complete and enlightened woman .
Like many other of the Great Goddesses Persephone dies to live. Thus the cycle of life, death and renewal forever unfurls reminding us that change and transformation come through surrender .
Kris Waldherr, in her beautiful book of Godesesses, p35, gives a quote by Cicero as he speaks of the Eluesian rites connected with Persephone and Demeter and this so beautifully says
“We have been given a reason not only to live in joy,but also to die with better hope”.
The Mysteries and Persphone remind us not to fear change but to embrace it, to hold it close in our hands to our hearts and to live life fully without fear.