tulipsSpring is blossoming all over the place in the Pacific Northwest and I am welcoming the new brilliance, the flowers exploding from soft earth, the luminescent green buds forming on previously stark trees.  My heart feels like a tender sprout after navigating so many storms these past months. Clarity is arriving, at long last. In ancient times, the spring equinox marks the time of the return of the goddess Persephone from the Underworld. Persephone is the daughter of Demeter, goddess of the earth and, at the fall equinox, she descends downward into the Underworld to visit with the dead.  In her absence, Demeter searches in vain for her daughter, and becomes consumed by grief, causing all of the earth to wither and die.  The gods later intervene, bringing Persephone back up from the Underworld to reunite with her mother at spring time, thus the blossoming of the earth anew. Grecian history marks the story of Perspehone's descent with an abduction or snatching and later a rape by Hades, Lord of the becoming_persephone_by_reynaile-d57wx98Underworld. His desire for the beautiful maiden Goddess drives him to pull Persephone down into his Underworld lair. While Persephone is in the Underworld, she eats the ancient fruit of the dead, the pomegranate. Curiously, this fruit is also a fruit of fertility and birth in many cultures, linking the two together. In many traditions, the Goddess is connected to both birth and death, the power of woman being intimately woven with creating new life and tending to the dead in human lives, in the planting of seeds and the fallow of fields. Often portrayed in a triple goddess form, the transition of girl to woman to mother to crone is a powerful reminder to connect with the cycle of life. We can see the beautiful symbols of fertility in the glistening red seeds of the pomegranate.  In the story, Persephone eats six seeds while in the Underworld, thus binding her to Hades' domain. When one eats the food of a place, then one is forever connected and Persephone must return each fall equinox to visit with Hades and the dead. The myths around this epic story vary. In some, Persephone is unhappy in the Underworld, in others she rises to meet Hades as his equal and becomes Queen of the Dead.  Yet, more striking is Charlene's Spretnak's reclaiming in Lost Goddesses of Early Greece where she retells an even more ancient story of Persephone, one in which she chooses on her own to visit the Underworld. In this version, there is no Hades, only Persephone and her rich relationship with Demeter, her mother.  In becoming older, Persephone feels the call to work with spirits who are earth bound and need to be released to the light. Hades, the abductor, the rapist is a more recent addition to the story, a dark man from below who abducts, snatches, even rapes in direct reflection of the arrival of the patriarchal culture and suppression of women. The rape of the Goddess is not a new story or theme and emerges in many ancient myths, indigenous stories even. Sometimes it is a theft or snatching, other times it is abduction even rape. Looking at the possiblity of more ancient story that empowers the Goddess was one of my motivations in writing Fire of the Goddess: Nine Paths to Ignite the Sacred Feminine. I deliberately sought out powerful, loving and wise stories of the divine feminine that were not imbued with rape, incest or feminine demise. And yet we live in a world where these stories continue to perpetuate in people's daily lives. For me building a bridge to an ancient Goddess past and pulling her, full of power, mystery, beauty and love into a very present life has been a way to inspire me to stand in my own power and beauty and mystery. How else can we reclaim the sacred feminine? And not only that, but to also reclaim an empowered masculine that is not the abductor or the rapist? Our culture, our world,  our planet as mother, as Gaia, as Demeter, as a living being is calling out for new stories, perhaps inspired by the old, but also recreated. New stories of love and light and wisdom that are co-creative, harmonious and with the recognition that everything is interdependent on everything else.  It is up to us to find the myths, the epic collective dreaming, that truly serves us in the name of love, acceptance, beauty and brilliance and make that our truth. This week marks the time to celebrate Persephone's return, at Spring Equinox when the light and dark balance out. In particular, this year is especially potent as the equinox also falls on a New Moon and a full Solar Eclipse! Certainly a time to set powerful seeds and intentions for the next months.  I encourage you to enter the womb of creation and plant a fiery seed for the making of new. Let go the past, forgive, water your grieving with precious tears and clear the way for the new. Now is the time to write a new story. *Image: Becoming Persephone by Reynaile: Retrieved on March 16, from http://reynaile.deviantart.com/art/Becoming-Persephone-315624284