Sunday, November 29, 2009

Ode on Melancholy by John Keats

Even more poetry mentioning Persephone that I did not write.  Enjoy.

Ode on Melancholy by Keats

No, no! go not to Lethe, neither twist
Wolf's-bane, tight-rooted, for its poisonous wine;
Nor suffer thy pale forehead to be kissed
By nightshade, ruby grape of Proserpine;
Make not your rosary of yew-berries,
Nor let the beetle nor the death-moth be
Your mournful Psyche, nor the downy owl
A partner in your sorrow's mysteries;
For shade to shade will come too drowsily,
And drown the wakeful anguish of the soul.

But when the melancholy fit shall fall
Sudden from heaven like a weeping cloud,
That fosters the droop-headed flowers all,
And hides the green hill in an April shroud;
Then glut thy sorrow on a morning rose,
Or on the rainbow of the salt sand-wave,
Or on the wealth of globed peonies;
Or if thy mistress some rich anger shows,
Imprison her soft hand, and let her rave,
And feed deep, deep upon her peerless eyes.

She dwells with Beauty -Beauty that must die;
And Joy, whose hand is ever at his lips
Bidding adieu; and aching Pleasure nigh,
Turning to poison while the bee-mouth sips:
Ay, in the very temple of Delight
Veiled Melancholy has her sovran shrine,
Though seen of none save him whose strenuous tongue
Can burst Joy's grape against his palate fine:
His soul shall taste the sadness of her might,
And be among her cloudy trophies hung.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Demeter's Thanksgiving Feast

Just a day away from American Thanksgiving and I am starting to reflect on what this season means to me.  Each year, I travel from Atlanta to Michigan to visit family and friends and really begin to enjoy all that the holiday season brings to me.  I had thought of it as a reverse of Persephone's journey - that Atlanta was the Underworld and that Detroit was Olympos.  Truth be told, I believe it might be the other way around.  We travel from a place where the weather is pretty nice all year round to a city already deep into winter.  In either case, there is nothing like the winter holidays, starting with Thanksgiving, to reflect on the things that are really important in our lives.  This year I am thankful for many things including my amazing partner, my wonderful and very silly feline companion, the experience of building our own cabin in the woods, and all my friends and family in Atlanta, Asheville, Detroit and all over the country. 

The great Christian mystic, Meister Eckhart, once said:
If the only prayer you ever say in your whole life is "thank you," that would suffice.
No matter what your faith tradition, I believe these are words everyone can live by. 

This holiday I would like to share some recipes that you can make to say "Thank You" to your own friends and family and enjoy the festive harvest feast with Demeter and Persephone.  Kick off the holiday season with a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday and start building your own family traditions. 

Whole grains are, as you might imagine, sacred to Demeter as the Goddess of the earth and agriculture.  As an alternative side dish with your Thanksgiving turkey, try this recipe from


2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, or canola oil
1/2 cup broken whole-wheat spaghetti pieces
1/3 cup finely diced onion
1 14-ounce can reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 cup instant brown rice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

Heat oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add pasta and onion; cook, stirring, until starting to brown, about 3 minutes. Add broth, rice, salt and bay leaf; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is tender, 10 to 12 minutes. Let sit for 5 minutes. Discard the bay leaf. Fluff with a fork and stir in parsley.

And to compliment all the heavy holiday food, try this Pomegranate Salad from  The pomegranate connects us all to Persephone's journey. 


1 cup candied pecans
1 large bunch red leaf lettuce, washed, dried and torn into bite-size pieces
1/2 cup pomegranate seeds (from 1 pomegranate)
2 cups large dark seedless grapes, halved
1/2 cup chopped red onion
1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese
4 ripe red pears
1/2 cup aged balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
4 tablespoons brown sugar
salt and pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons finely minced fresh orange zest


1.  Make candied pecans.
2.  In a large bowl, toss together the pomegranate seeds, grapes, red onion, and the blue cheese.
3.  Divide torn lettuce leaves among 8 salad plates, and top each salad with the fruit mixture.
4.  Halve and core pears and cut into 1/2-inch slices-- put a pear half, skin side up, in the center of each salad.
5.  Arrange candied pecans around the pears.
6.  Just before serving, heat balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and brown sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat, cooking and stirring until brown sugar dissolves. Off the heat, and season to taste with salt and pepper.
7.  Drizzle warm dressing over each salad, sprinkle with orange zest, and serve right away.

Blessed Thanksgiving.  May you use this season to harvest all the love that you have planted throughout the year. 

Monday, November 23, 2009

Alfred Lord Tennyson's "Demeter and Persephone"

Just wanted to share the classic poem by Alfred Lord Tennyson.  He didn't only write about King Arthur. 

Faint as a climate-changing bird that flies
All night across the darkness, and at dawn
Falls on the threshold of her native land,
And can no more, thou camest, O my child,
Led upward by the God of ghosts and dreams,
Who laid thee at Eleusis, dazed and dumb,
With passing thro' at once from state to state,
Until I brought thee hither, that the day,
When here thy hands let fall the gather'd flower,
Might break thro' clouded memories once again
On thy lost self. A sudden nightingale
Saw thee, and flash'd into a frolic of song
And welcome; and a gleam as of the moon,
When first she peers along the tremulous deep,
Fled wavering o'er thy face, and chased away
That shadow of a likeness to the king
Of shadows, thy dark mate. Persephone!
Queen of the dead no more -- my child! Thine eyes
Again were human-godlike, and the Sun
Burst from a swimming fleece of winter gray,
And robed thee in his day from head to feet --
"Mother!" and I was folded in thine arms.

Child, those imperial, disimpassion'd eyes
Awed even me at first, thy mother -- eyes
That oft had seen the serpent-wanded power
Draw downward into Hades with his drift
Of fickering spectres, lighted from below
By the red race of fiery Phlegethon;
But when before have Gods or men beheld
The Life that had descended re-arise,
And lighted from above him by the Sun?
So mighty was the mother's childless cry,
A cry that ran thro' Hades, Earth, and Heaven!

So in this pleasant vale we stand again,
The field of Enna, now once more ablaze
With flowers that brighten as thy footstep falls,
All flowers -- but for one black blur of earth
Left by that closing chasm, thro' which the car
Of dark Aidoneus rising rapt thee hence.
And here, my child, tho' folded in thine arms,
I feel the deathless heart of motherhood
Within me shudder, lest the naked glebe
Should yawn once more into the gulf, and thence
The shrilly whinnyings of the team of Hell,
Ascending, pierce the glad and songful air,
And all at once their arch'd necks, midnight-maned,
Jet upward thro' the mid-day blossom. No!
For, see, thy foot has touch'd it; all the space
Of blank earth-baldness clothes itself afresh,
And breaks into the crocus-purple hour
That saw thee vanish.

Child, when thou wert gone,
I envied human wives, and nested birds,
Yea, the cubb'd lioness; went in search of thee
Thro' many a palace, many a cot, and gave
Thy breast to ailing infants in the night,
And set the mother waking in amaze
To find her sick one whole; and forth again
Among the wail of midnight winds, and cried,
"Where is my loved one? Wherefore do ye wail?"
And out from all the night an answer shrill'd,
"We know not, and we know not why we wail."
I climb'd on all the cliffs of all the seas,
And ask'd the waves that moan about the world
"Where? do ye make your moaning for my child?"
And round from all the world the voices came
"We know not, and we know not why we moan."
"Where?" and I stared from every eagle-peak,
I thridded the black heart of all the woods,
I peer'd thro' tomb and cave, and in the storms
Of Autumn swept across the city, and heard
The murmur of their temples chanting me,
Me, me, the desolate Mother! "Where"? -- and turn'd,
And fled by many a waste, forlorn of man,
And grieved for man thro' all my grief for thee, --
The jungle rooted in his shatter'd hearth,
The serpent coil'd about his broken shaft,
The scorpion crawling over naked skulls; --
I saw the tiger in the ruin'd fane
Spring from his fallen God, but trace of thee
I saw not; and far on, and, following out
A league of labyrinthine darkness, came
On three gray heads beneath a gleaming rift.
"Where"? and I heard one voice from all the three
"We know not, for we spin the lives of men,
And not of Gods, and know not why we spin!
There is a Fate beyond us." Nothing knew.

Last as the likeness of a dying man,
Without his knowledge, from him flits to warn
A far-off friendship that he comes no more,
So he, the God of dreams, who heard my cry,
Drew from thyself the likeness of thyself
Without thy knowledge, and thy shadow past
Before me, crying "The Bright one in the highest
Is brother of the Dark one in the lowest,
And Bright and Dark have sworn that I, the child
Of thee, the great Earth-Mother, thee, the Power
That lifts her buried life from loom to bloom,
Should be for ever and for evermore
The Bride of Darkness."

So the Shadow wail'd.
Then I, Earth-Goddess, cursed the Gods of Heaven.
I would not mingle with their feasts; to me
Their nectar smack'd of hemlock on the lips,
Their rich ambrosia tasted aconite.
The man, that only lives and loves an hour,
Seem'd nobler than their hard Eternities.
My quick tears kill'd the flower, my ravings hush'd
The bird, and lost in utter grief I fail'd
To send my life thro' olive-yard and vine
And golden grain, my gift to helpless man.
Rain-rotten died the wheat, the barley-spears
Vere hollow-husk'd, the leaf fell, and the sun,
Pale at my grief, drew down before his time
Sickening, and tna kept her winter snow.
Then He, the brother of this Darkness, He
Who still is highest, glancing from his height
On earth a fruitless fallow, when he miss'd
The wonted steam of sacrifice, the praise
And prayer of men, decreed that thou should'st dwell
For nine white moons of each whole year with me,
Three dark ones in the shadow with thy King.

Once more the reaper in the gleam of dawn
Will see me by the landmark far away,
Blessing his field, or seated in the dusk
Of even, by the lonely threshing-floor,
Rejoicing in the harvest and the grange.
Yet I, Earth-Goddess, am but ill-content
With them, who still are highest. Those gray heads,
What meant they by their "Fate beyond the Fates"
But younger kindlier Gods to bear us down,
As we bore down the Gods before us? Gods,
To quench, not hurl the thunderbolt, to stay,
Not spread the plague, the famine; Gods indeed,
To send the noon into the night and break
The sunless halls of Hades into Heaven?
Till thy dark lord accept and love the Sun,
And all the Shadow die into the Light,
When thou shalt dwell the whole bright year with me,
And souls of men, who grew beyond their race,
And made themselves as Gods against the fear
Of Death and Hell; and thou that hast from men,
As Queen of Death, that worship which is Fear,
Henceforth, as having risen from out the dead,
Shalt ever send thy life along with mine
From buried grain thro' springing blade, and bless
Their garner'd Autumn also, reap with me,
Earth-mother, in the harvest hymns of Earth
The worship which is Love, and see no more
The Stone, the Wheel, the dimly-glimmering lawns
Of that Elysium, all the hateful fires
Of torment, and the shadowy warrior glide
Along the silent field of Asphodel.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Marriage of Cadmus and Harmony by Roberto Calasso: A Review

“A life in which the gods are not invited isn’t worth living. It will be quieter, but there won’t be any stories. And you could suppose that these dangerous invitations were in fact contrived by the gods themselves, because the gods get bored with men who have no stories.” (Page 387)

If you have ever had an interest in Greek Religion as a form devotional practice, this is the single most important book you’ll ever read. Sure, classics like Homer and Hesiod are a great starting point, but Roberto Colasso is very skilled at taking the classics and telling them in way that really touches your very soul.

Originally written in Italian and published in 1988, The Marriage of Cadmus and Harmony has been translated to English and many other languages. It begins by retelling and reshaping the story of Europa, but doesn’t take long to ask the reoccurring question; “But how does it all begin?” The question will appear and reappear over and over in multiple forms throughout the book. The telling of another myth, either related in terms of its main characters or theme, follows the telling of each myth. Every story runs seamlessly into the next, always asking the question “But how does it all begin?” The Gods, Goddesses, Heroes and Heroines of ancient Greece are analyzed, and realized, in every way possible and always treated with the highest respect and honor. Each story is told with amazing language and images. It is a book that can easily be read multiple times, and you may learn new things each reading.

So, you ask, how does this relate to Persephone? As you might imagine, Calasso spends a great deal of time on her myth in all its forms. Chapter 7 tells many versions of her story jumping from myth to myth. Sometimes it seems as if he stops in the middle of a tale but don’t worry, he will always get back to it. Calasso weaves both Homeric and Orphic versions of the story together even as they eternally contradict one another. It is as though he is trying to make some sort of order out of them but still allows beautiful chaos permeate his telling. There are so many amazing passages about Persephone that it would be difficult to share them all, which is precisely the reason I am suggesting that you seek this book out and read it from cover to cover several times. To whet your appetite, perhaps, I share the following:

“When the earth split open and Hades’ chariot appeared, draw by four horses abreast, Kore was looking at a narcissus. She was looking at the act of looking. She was about to pick it. And, at that very moment, she herself was plucked away by the invisible toward the invisible.” (Page 209)
I love the phrase “She was looking at the act of looking”. In the same chapter, Calasso makes the comparison between Persephone’s myth and the myth of Narcissus himself, for whom the flower was named. Did she have a similar fatal flaw? Was her abduction by Hades really a dive deeper into her own self? Calasso continues:

“Some early poets suggest that Persephone felt a ‘fatal desire’ to be carried off, that she formed a ‘love pact’ with the king of the night, that she shamelessly and willingly exposed herself to the contagion of Hades. Kore saw herself in Hades pupil. She recognized, in the eye observing herself, the eye of an invisible other. She recognized that she belonged to that other. At that moment she crossed the threshold she had been about to cross while looking at the narcissus.” (Pages 209-210)
In his poetic piece by piece reconstruction of the myth of Persephone, Calasso gives her autonomy over her own fate, her own destiny, and her own future. Hades seems to be just a prop in her one-woman play. He doesn’t stop there, though. He continues to tell her story investigating it over and over again beneath different microscopes. The last story recounted in the chapter is a part of the Homeric Hymn to Demeter, probably the most well known version of Persephone’s story. He masterfully tells the story of her reunion with her mother, Demeter, and how she comes to spend her time split between, essentially, this word and the next.

I could not recommend a book more than this one, which is why I chose it for my first blogging book review. I have found it inspirational and devotional. It isn’t a reference book and it isn’t indexed so you can’t pull it off the shelf and turn to page to learn about any particular god or myth. It is a continuous interwoven story, like all of human history, which is worth reading from cover to cover. And you will ask your self repeatedly, “but how did it all begin”. Calasso does, after a fashion, answer just that very question by the end of the book.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Pomegranate

Are you the symbol of death?

Or the symbol of marriage?
With what intention were you given to Persephone?

Don’t eat more than 6 seeds or you may never return.
I have been told that before
But I throw caution to the wind
I feel the sweet juice between my lips
Seed after seed after seed
Given by my lover
And with him I am wed

If you were the symbol of death
Why would you also be held by
Hera and Aphrodite?
Their realms are of marriage and passion
And that is your realm, too.

It wasn’t that he was tricking her into staying
He was giving her a gift
From Husband to Wife.

Your history has been distorted
But I hold you gently in my hands
And know your secret.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Meet Me on the Equinox

I love music. I like music of all types, but especially good old fashioned Rock and Roll. I have been trying to avoid the unclassifiable emo-esque song styling of Death Cab For Cutie. It isn't that I don't think they are good, it is that sometimes I can be a music snob and be happier in my love for less commercial artists like Josh Joplin and Mike Doughty. I'm not ashamed to admit my faults.

Death Cab For Cutie has a new song on the radio. And to add insult to injury it is a song from the Twilight Saga: New Moon movie soundtrack. I haven't been a teenage girl for a while...and I mean a long while. I have read the books and I did actually see the first movie. I might actually rent the second one on netflix someday.

All this talk of radio pop and teenage vampire movies is leading to one thing. I can't stop listening to the song "Meet Me On The Equinox". One of the many on-line lyric sites (that bombard you with a ton of pop-ups) has provided me with the lyrics:

Meet me on the Equinox
Meet me half way
When the sun is perched at its highest peek
In the middle of the day

Let me give my love to you
Let me take your hand
As we walk in the dimming light
Or darling understand

That everything, everything ends
That everything, everything ends

Meet me on your best behavior
Meet me at your worst
For there will be no stone unturned
Or bubble left to burst

Let me lay beside you, Darling
Let me be your man
And let our bodies intertwine
But always understand

That everything, everything ends
That everything, everything ends
That everything, everything, everything ends

A window
An opened tomb
The sun crawls
Across your bedroom
A halo
A waiting room
Your last breaths
Moving through you
As everything, everything ends
As everything, everything ends
As everything, everything, everything
Everything, everything, everything ends

Meet me on the Equinox
Meet me half way
When the sun is perched at its highest peek
In the middle of the day

Let me give my love to you
Let me take your hand
As we walk in the dimming light
Or darling understand

That everything, everything ends

In these lyrics, I hear the longing of Hades for his sometimes-bride. He meets her at the Autumn Equinox every year only to part from her in the Spring - the only other time of the year when day and night are equal lengths. She comes and goes like a phantom in to the Open Tomb of the underworld. I can just picture her approaching the entrance to her husband's kingdom. He meets her in the bright sunshine as the autumn leaves are scattering down upon the fields in showers of gold, orange, brown and red. And they both know that she will not see the sun again until Springtime.

The song is as melancholy as the story of Persephone and Hades. It feels as thought it was written for them. If only they had mentioned a pomegranate, then I would know for sure.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Chapter Three: Planting the Seeds

In invite you to enjoy the third installment of my fiction project.  Comments and critiques are always welcome. 

Demi stared at the phone in her hand. She couldn't stop staring at it. Mr. Gray...Gus. Was on his way to the park as she sat staring in disbelief. Part of her wanted to run away as fast as possible. Another part of her knew that Mr. Gray had her home address and would find her if he really wanted to see her. She was sure that he just had to call the staffing company directly and ask them. They were supposed to have a personal information policy indicating that they would not provide a candidate' phone number or address to anyone out side of the company without the person's permission. But Demi figured that if the owner and president of their largest client wanted to get that information, it wouldn't take long for it to be provided.

She didn't know exactly where he was coming from, but soon she saw him walking toward her. She froze, unable to move. He was dressed more casually - jeans, a black polo shirt and black shoes. He smiled as he approached the fountain. He would smile and nod at everyone who made eye contact with him as he walked toward Demi. That charm was certainly what made every one fall under his spell. He didn't say a word as he stopped in front of Demi sitting on the edge of the fountain. He reached out his hand. She started to do the same as if to shake it, but instead he took her hand and gently tugged on her arm to get her to stand up. She did.

The day she stood in her office and he in her doorway, she hadn't been nearly this close to him. His form was imposing. He was much older than she was, she wasn't certain exactly how much older. He was in fantastic shape, obviously being able to pay for all the personal training he could want. He was tall, the top of Demi's head came to his chin. She looked up at his blue eyes, and the quickly looked away, hoping he didn't see her blush.

"Did you want to finish your walk" he asked.

"Sure, I wasn't going anywhere in particular. Was just walking around."

"Well, then lets just keep walking and we can talk."

Demi didn't know exactly where they were heading, she let Mr. Gray take the lead. At first their conversation was just small talk - they talked about the weather and about the crazy storm just a few days before. They talked about the flowers that Demi had received and he wanted to know if she liked them. He asked her about living in new york - Had she been here long? Did she like it. She told him about about growing up in Macedon in Western New York. That she had grown up near Lake Eerie and had lived there her whole life. She had wanted to move to New York since she was a little girl. As she kept talking she realized how comfortable he really made her.

They walked for a couple of hours. She noticed that he didn't actually tell her much about himself, just little bits and pieces. But he did ask her a lot of questions. She found that they were very near the street entrance of the park. And he stopped.

"Demetra, I would like to take you to dinner this evening."

She found herself smiling at him. "I would like that," she said.

"Great. Shall I pick you up at," he glanced at his watch, "8:30?" Demi looked at her watch as well, it was nearly 5pm.

"Sure, that would be great. I'll go home and change my clothes and will see you then."

"Then I will see you then." He reached out his hand this time to really shake hers.

Demi nearly bounced all the way home. What the hell was her problem? It would be fun. No strings attached. She was an adult. She had been an adult for a while in spite of her "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" relationship with her family. She was trying to shed that and it was the very reason she had moved to New York. Why the hell not, she thought.

She walked into her apartment, closed the door behind her and leaned against it as though she was unable to hold herself up. The flowers on her counter radiated color at her, reminding her that all this was real. She pushed herself off the door and ran into her bedroom. She opened her closet and the scene that followed was a montage of clips of every chick movie ever made. The lead character needs to find a perfect dress for that perfect date and so she cycle though everything in the closet. Demi knew that Gus Gray was not going to take her just anywhere for dinner. She didn't know where it would be, but it would be expensive and amazing. She vetoed most of the dresses in her closet for one ridiculous reason or another. She pulled out a simple black wrap dress. You could never go wrong with black. At least all the fashion magazines told her that. Although, What Not To Wear would tell her not to be afraid of color. On that note, she grabbed a pair of red heels out of the closet as well. Some accessories, and her hair down and curls fluffed, and she would be ready for a date with a married man.

She called her mother back. She wasn't going to tell her details, but she wanted her not to keep calling all night. She told her she had received flowers from someone she had just met the other day and was going to dinner with him tonight. Mrs. S asked if he was Greek. Demi told her she didn't think so. Her mom snorted. She said she met him at work, which was not a lie. Then her mom asked what his name was. "Chris", she responded. Gus just sounded like an older name, and she panicked. "Well, have fun with this Chris" Mrs. S told her daughter. "I will, ma". Demi hit the end button on her phone and felt reasonably confident that no one would bother her the rest of the day. She was pretty certain that an affair like this wasn't going to last long and she would just tell her mom that she and "Chris" broke up. If Gus left his wife to marry Demi, then she would cross that bridge when she got to it.

It wasn't long before the doorbell rang. Tentatively, Demi opened it. Gus was there in tailored black pants, a button down blue shirt and very shiny shoes. He looked directly inside at the flowers on the counter.

"I see you have my flowers" he said

"Yes, they are very pretty."

"Shall we go?" he asked and held out his arm. Demi placed her hand in the crook of his elbow and smiled. She pulled the door locked behind them. When they got down to the street, she saw his white Lexus parked outside. She wasn't much of a car girl, so she didn't know what kind it was. She was, however, surprised that it didn't come with a driver. Politely, Gus opened the passenger side door for her.

"Where are we going?" she asked

"Some where nice," he grinned. They spent the rest of the ride in silence. With all the twists and turns of the city blocks, Demi wasn't sure where they were at all, but they arrived at a restaurant in just a few minutes. The sign read "Bacchanalia".

"Is it Greek?" she asked. Non greek people always seemed to want to take her to a greek restaurant.

"No, it is just decadent" he responded.

Inside was a contemporary restaurant with several levels. It almost looked like a theatre with some of the tables in individual boxes. Of course, their table was in one such box. The food was out of this world, everything served tapas style, or "small plates" as the menu called it. Demi and Gus ordered all types of food as well as several bottles of wine. Demi didn't even want to know what the cost of this dinner would be.

As they ate, they talked. Gus made Demi feel very comfortable. She leaned close to the table and looked him in the eyes.

"So, I know you don't want to be a temp for the rest of your life. What do you really love."

She shrugged. "I don't know, really. I haven't quite figured it out yet. I love to garden..."

He laughed heartily. "You love to garden but you moved to new York city?"

"I know, it seems strange. I had thought about volunteering with some of the green space projects here in the city." He poured her more wine, which she instantly began to sip. She had lost count, but red wine was making her feel warm and good.

She told him more about plants and he listened very intently. At some point he ordered some dessert and they ate the tiny fancy sweet treats and kept talking.

"I think we need to get out of here," he said. she looked in his eyes. "I really want to kiss you, and this table is in my way."

The bells were going off in Demi's head. Not the good kind of tinkling faery bells, but the alarm bells. "Married Man" she kept thinking. But the truth was, she wanted to kiss him too. And, he had told her, he had a "arrangement" with Hannah Gray. At this very moment Hannah could be on a date with a 30 year old young man in Washington State.

"I would like that" Demi heard herself say. They got up and as they walked out Gus put his hand on the small of her back. They went out to the car and he drove he to his penthouse apartment. She barely had time to find herself in awe of the building as he drew her to his body and kissed her. She had never been kissed like that before, but she knew that countless women before her had been. She didn't care. Right now, she was flushed with wine and ready for anything. She kissed him back. She kissed his neck. She found herself unbuttoning his shirt. And she knew the next place she would be was in his bed.

And all the while she wondered what she was doing, and never thought to stop herself.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

A date with Adonis

“You’re thinking about her, aren’t you?”

They sat in the field of asphodel, their red and white checkered picnic blanket laid out beneath their legs. He sat with his perfectly toned and tanned legs crossed. She lay back stretching her white limbs out from her body. He was silent in answer to her question. He fiddled with the hem of his shirt and didn’t look at her.

“I understand,” she said. “I know we’ve run out of things to talk about.”

“Its not you,” He said finally, quietly.

“I know. I know better than anyone else, really. The Olympians are always figuring out ways to divide our time between there and here. I hate being a pawn in their ridiculous games. It is okay if you’re thinking about her. I owe her a debt myself.”

Adonis looked up at her, his dark green eyes inquisitive. She knew he wanted to hear the story. She was certain he had heard it before, but she knew he liked to hear her tell it.

“Yeah. It is all Aphrodite’s fault. My mother had made it quite clear that I was never to be married off like some commoner. She wanted me to be elevated to the very pinnacle of the Greek pantheon – an eternal virgin like Hestia, Athena and Artemis.” Adonis smiled a little and so Persephone responded, “you better believe I’m glad that didn’t happen!

“Anyway, Aphrodite was angry about it, as you might expect. She didn’t want anyone out of her realm of dominance that wasn’t already. She thought hard about another God who might need a partner. Several gods had auditioned for the job, including Hermes who has been Aphrodite’s lover once. But she decided on Hades, my very own uncle. I think she might have been a little jealous of me. Or maybe thought I would be too much of a rival, that by her hand she could banish me to the deepest recesses of hell. And so she bade Eros to shoot Hades with the arrow of love. The rest is history, as they say. I have been here with my husband ever since. And I do love him.”

“Then why did you fight so hard for me?” asked Adonis.

“Maybe to get back at her a bit? I am not angry at her for introducing me to Hades. But I am angry that she started the battle over where I get to spend my time. That is the part of my life in which I had no control. When she brought you here, she was begging for me to help her. She needed to hide you because she knew she couldn’t keep you to herself.” Persephone reached out with her slender fingers and gently traced his jaw line. “You are beautiful, you know.” Adonis smiled and looked away shyly. “Tell me about her.”
His eyes brightened. He looked straight into her violet eyes. “I know she has a bad reputation. And I know she has had a lot of different lovers. But there is something magnificent about her. She has a draw. A magnetism. I love the feeling of her hair in my hands and the weight of her body in my arms. Her hair smells like roses and her skin glows with gold.” Adonis leaned over Persephone’s prone body, his face very close to hers.

She turned her face away from him. He brushed her ear with his lips. She knew they both thought about different lovers, but he was the embodiment of passion so why not make the best of it. “You never describe me like that,” she said.

“You are very different,” he whispered. “Your hair smells like daffodils. Your eyes shine like amethysts. Your skin is like the glorious moonlight.”

Persephone sighed. “I haven’t seen the moon since summer,” she said.

“Me neither.”

She turned her face to him. She knew that when the seasons changed they would be apart again. They might be in someone else’s arms all together. But this night was their night, their longing was a yearning for the springtime.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Bavarian Gentians by DH Lawrence

I thought I would share another poem that mentions Persephone from my vast collection of such poems.  If you ever see any Persephone poetry, please feel free to send it my way. 

Bavarian Gentians by D.H. Lawrence

Not every man has gentians in his house
in Soft September, at slow, Sad Michaelmas.

Bavarian gentians, big and dark, only dark
darkening the daytime torchlike with the smoking blueness of Pluto's
ribbed and torchlike, with their blaze of darkness spread blue
down flattening into points, flattened under the sweep of white day
torch-flower of the blue-smoking darkness, Pluto's dark-blue daze,
black lamps from the halls of Dis, burning dark blue,
giving off darkness, blue darkness, as Demeter's pale lamps give off
lead me then, lead me the way.

Reach me a gentian, give me a torch
let me guide myself with the blue, forked torch of this flower
down the darker and darker stairs, where blue is darkened on blueness.
even where Persephone goes, just now, from the frosted September
to the sightless realm where darkness was awake upon the dark
and Persephone herself is but a voice
or a darkness invisible enfolded in the deeper dark
of the arms Plutonic, and pierced with the passion of dense gloom,
among the splendor of torches of darkness, shedding darkness on the
lost bride and groom.

Monday, November 2, 2009


When I was in college, I was involved in the student pagan group. It was an eclectic group that tended to mix traditions and pantheons. We were planning for an Autumn Equinox ritual and I had suggested that we evoke Persephone along with a God from a different pantheon. “I wouldn’t do that,” someone said. “Hades is a jealous husband”.

I was recently ruminating on that statement when something occurred to me. I realized that it wasn’t Hades who was jealous, but Persephone. The evidence is as follows:

The story I am about to share is referenced most notably in Ovid’s Metamorphoses. Minthe was a beautiful nymph. But honestly, have you ever really heard about an ugly nymph? She was so lovely that she caught the eye of Hades himself.

Some versions of the myth say she was enamored with his chariot, admiring the sleek black horses and silver wheels. The solemn king of the underworld had very little color in his life, save for his radiant and terrible queen Persephone. I imagine the story continuing when Persephone was spending the summer with her mother and Hades finds himself tempted by Minthe. He and Minthe made love in the very flower-dappled meadow where Hades had snared his wife. When Persephone learned of Hades’ infidelity, she was enraged. She rushed to the scene of the crime of passion, just as Minthe was leaving Hades behind. Rather than turning her anger to her cheating husband, she found her fury aimed at Minthe herself, just like a classical Greek Jerry Springer episode. Persephone rage transformed Minthe a mint plant. And when the whole ordeal was finished, Hades remained silent.

He remained strangely silent during another situation. Persephone as innocent as her maiden persona would let us believe. Hades did not enact the same form of vengeance when the tables were turned. This story begins when Aphrodite needed hide Adonis from all her above world rivals. She asked Persephone to keep him in safe in the underworld. During his stay, however, Persephone fell madly in love with him. When Aphrodite returned to claim the beautiful youth, Persephone refused to give him back. They fought over him, and eventually it was determined that the year would be split into thirds. Adonis would spend one with Aphrodite, one with Persephone and the last third would be for himself. Adonis chose to spend his final third with Aphrodite. This left Persephone waiting her turn each, just as her mother had to wait for part of the year to see her daughter every year. In this myth both Persephone and Adonis represent the green growing things that return after a long departure. For his part, Hades minded his own business and allowed his wife her plaything for that part of the year.

The stories of Minthe and Adonis give us an interesting insight into the marriage of Persephone and Hades. Though Hades may be dreadful in his business life, his relationship with his wife is very different. It seems Persephone is the jealous partner while Hades is merely grateful for what he has.

"Defiance of Persephone" by Jason Beam at, used with permission.