As any mother with a missing child, no matter what the child's age, you panic. You can't concentrate on anything, much less your job, even if you are the earth goddess. All the teeming plant life on the planet begins to die out. No crops, nothing will grow while your tears fall for your daughter. You can't eat, you can't drink, not even bathe yourself. You ask everyone from birds to mortals but no one has seen her.
While some might call your attachment a bit too obsessive, after all Persephone is not a child, but a young woman, you can't deny the sorrow of your heart. Ever since her birth, you've had a special bond with her, almost as if you were one. The loss hits hard, and grief overwhelms you. You tear the headband from round your hair, cast the dark veil off your shoulders and rush over land and sea for nine days searching for her. Even at night by torchlight you call out for your lost daughter. Yet you find nothing.
On the tenth dawn, Hecate approaches holding a light in her hands. "Goddess Demeter, which one of the gods or mortals took Persephone and has brought you such grief?"
"Have you seen her?" you ask.
Hecate shakes her head. "No, but I heard the sounds, yet did not see who took her. I came to tell you what I knew."
Together you set out with her with your torches ablaze and approached Helios, that god who sees all of gods and men. He carries the sun across the sky with his chariot. You find him standing ready to bring the dawn.
"Helios, it's about my sweet daughter, Persephone. Have you seen her? I heard her cry, but have not seen who took her. Please, I beg you goddess to a god, tell me if you've seen her from your position in the sky. Have you seen who took her from me? If you know, please tell me." You can't hold back your sobs.
He reaches out a hand to your shoulder to comfort you. "I will answer you. I feel sorry for you in your grief over your child. The only one to blame is Zeus who gave Persephone to Hades for his bride. Hades took her to his realm of darkness."
And you wail with aching heart. No. Persephone is too young, too innocent to face the ravishment of the lord of the underworld.
Everything is lost. You have no words for any of your fellow gods. Distraught beyond anything you've ever endured, you have no desire to spend time on Mt. Olympus. Instead you go among the mortals, wandering from place to place.
You take refuge in a household and nurse a young prince you grow fond of, but that is another story.
In all this time, nothing grows, and the plows till the fields with no result. No seeds take root.
Humans are starving, and the gods are becoming angry with no sacrifices made in their honor. Yet you do nothing. You will allow nothing to grow as long as Persephone is gone. All must suffer as you have.
One day, the goddess Iris arrives. "Zeus summons you to the company of the immortals. Come. He must be obeyed."
You're not persuaded and decline to follow.
Then day after day each of the gods visits you, pleading with you. They offer beautiful gifts if only you will go meet with the gods.
"No." In your anger, you decline each invitation and refuse to be persuaded. "I won't go to Olympus and I won't allow the harvest until I see Persephone with my own eyes."
You catch her tight to your bosom, relieved to see her. "What happened? Who tricked you to go with Hades?"
Persephone inclined her head. "I shall tell you all that occurred, Mother. Zeus sent Hermes to Hades and said I should come straight to you so you might see with your own eyes and let your anger go. I was so happy, but for one thing. Hades fed me the pomegranate. As for a trick, there was no trick, he merely took me with him. I was in the meadow with all my friends playing and gathering lovely flowers. I was so happy when suddenly Hades appeared. I cried out, but no one heard me.
All day, you spend with Persephone, joyous to have her with you once more.
Hecate arrives. "Welcome back." She embraces Persephone.
Next your mother, Rhea, arrives to bring you a message from Zeus. "Every time that winter comes, Persephone will stay with Hades in the underworld, but in the spring, she will return to you. So come, my child, do not disobey. Let the harvest grow, so the humans will have life."
You assent. With your anger and grief dissipated, you are happy to be reunited with your child. Until the next winter when she returns to her husband.
In the end, everyone is called to sacrifice. Demeter sacrifices her daughter for part of the year, in order that humanity might thrive. Hades sacrifices his bride for part of the year in order to make Demeter and Persephone happy. Persephone balances the life with her husband with the life of her mother, also a sacrifice to try to fulfill her part in the story.
Demeter's role in enduring passion of Hades and Persephone is a large one. Because of her, Persephone can't be with her husband all the time, but must divide her time between him and her mother. It's an arrangement that benefits all in the long run. Persephone, the goddess of spring must spend time in the sunlight, for she needs renewal and yet each winter she can spend snug in the underworld in Hades' arms.
What sacrifice do you have to make to ensure a peaceful family? Are you ever torn between your birth family and your relationship? How do you balance both, while also making sure your own needs are met?
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Look for Journey to the UnderWorld coming soon!