On March 20 this year we celebrate the Spring Equinox. In the rhythm of the seasons, there are two points in the cycle where light and dark are equal – the spring and autumn equinox. These are the occasions for special festivals that celebrate the polarities of life, from ancient times until today. On the Spring Equinox day and night are equal, poised and balanced, but about to tip over on the side of light. The spring equinox is sacred to dawn, youth, the morning star and the east.
The Greek Goddess we associate with the Spring Equinox is Persephone, daughter of Demeter, the Goddess of grain and growing things. In the spring, Persephone comes back from the Underworld to be reunited with her mother. Here is the story of how they came to be separated, and why they share reunion each spring.
In the beginning, there was no separation of seasons, just never-ending good crops. And it was Demeter, Goddess of grain and growing things, who nourished the earth with this abundance of plant life. Once upon a time Demeter’s daughter Persephone was abducted by Hades, God of the Underworld, and taken there to become his Queen. Demeter abandoned her divine functions of nourishing the earth in order to look for Persephone. Angry and mourning, Demeter left Olympus and hid the seed for the next harvest far below the ground, bringing famine to the land of mortals. This in turn threatened the very existence of humankind, who were left with no crops and no food, the springs of fertility ran dry, vegetation languished, animals ceased to multiply, and the hand of death touched mankind. It was not until after the great Zeus beseeched Demeter to return to her duties, that man was able to go on living. Demeter only agreed to this in a great bargain with Zeus and Hades: Persephone would live in the Underworld for one third of each year, and would be allowed to return to this world each spring and remain here for the remaining two thirds of the year. Still to this day, Demeter allows the earth to go barren during those winter months in which Persephone resides with her husband. But every spring, with the return of her daughter, the goddess shows herself in the blossoms, the leaves on the trees, the sprouting of the crops, the mating of birds, the birth of young animals. In the agricultural cycle, it is time for planting.
We, too, have rhythms in which periods of productivity alternate with periods of wandering and hibernation. It is good to accept these cycles gracefully instead of attempting to force productivity all the time, which some of us “work-a-holics” try to do. There is a legitimate place for creating sustenance in this world, and a place for reigning over the invisible world beyond. Another insight from this story is that the power to give is most notably and often only appreciated when it is withheld. It is so easy to take all of life’s precious gifts for granted. And finally, the myth seems to convey the intrinsic contribution of the Mother, the Great Feminine to life itself, and the implicit warning of the grave consequences inherent in not respecting her.
From Darkness to Light with Hypnotherapy
As well, there is a parallel between this myth and our form of psychotherapy. Our ability to live a good life, prosperous and productive and loving, depends on our willingness to journey into the dark and unfamiliar realms of our own deep unconscious, the Underworld where our shadows live otherwise undetected. So what is your grand bargain that allows spring to replace winter when you find yourself mired in anguish, disheartened by disillusionment, seething with rage, or hopelessly lonely? Heart-Centered Hypnotherapy is effective in assisting people to navigate between these two realms, to explore in the underworld for the source of these plagues and then with that clarity to bring renewed passion and exuberance into their daily life. It’s springtime!