Persephone

Persephone

Also known as: Kore

Origin: Greece

Persephone’s modern claim to fame is as Hades’ abducted bride. Hades knew Demeter, Persephone’s devoted mother, would never agree to their marriage and so went behind her back, made private arrangements with Zeus, Persephone’s father, and then just kidnapped the young girl to bring her to his subterranean palace.

They did not figure on Demeter’s persistence. She refused to accept Persephone’s disappearance but searched for her tirelessly, eventually engaging in a strike that brought people and deities to their knees. (Demeter is goddess of agriculture. When she strikes, there is no food. When people starve, they stop making offerings to deities who then, in turn, starve.) Eventually a deal was negotiated. Persephone would have returned to the upper world completely except that she had eaten six pomegranate seeds from Hades’ garden. Since she had eaten the fruit of the dead, Persephone spends half the year as Hades’ queen and half the year with her mother. Together Demeter and Persephone preside over the Mysteries at Eleusis, the most famous Mysteries of the ancient world.

The myth makes Persephone seem like a pawn fought over by the more experienced Demeter and Hades. However, scholars suspect that Persephone—whose name may be interpreted as “destroying face”—is an ancient goddess of death. Persephone may be the original ruler of Hades. In order to obtain his throne and establish rulership, Hades may have had to kidnap her in the same manner that Poseidon raped Amphitrite and Zeus tricked Hera into marriage. Persephone may actually be more ancient than Demeter or Hades with some scholars placing her origin as early as the Neolithic era.

When Persephone returns to Earth from Hades, she is accompanied by a procession of dancing Charites, Horae, and Moirae, three groups of three spirits: nine beautiful dancers.

Persephone is invoked to find true, new or lasting love. She owns a box of beauty, which she may lend out to other goddesses and devotees: she is requested to enhance beauty and charisma. Persephone banishes ghosts and facilitates communication with dead souls. She is invoked for painless, peaceful death.

Favored people: Widows

Manifestation: Persephone manifests as a young beautiful woman.

Iconography: Persephone’s image reputedly wards off ghosts.

Attributes: Pomegranate, horse harness (because according to the Eleusinian Mysteries, Persephone returned to Earth in a horse-drawn wagon or because of her mother’s history as a horse goddess)

Spirit allies: Demeter, Dionysus, Orpheus. The Sirens are her servants, friends, and companions; Hekate is her handmaiden and messenger; Artemis and Athena are her friends; Aphrodite is her rival.

Month: Persephone returns to her mother in May, the month in which grain is expected to emerge from Earth.

Constellation: Virgo, interpreted as a solitary woman holding a stalk of wheat or the divine child

Trees: Black poplar, willow, pomegranate

Plant: Parsley

Altar: Decorate her altar with images of Medusa, her protective guardian device.

Offerings: Spring flowers, roses, black crystals

See also:

  • Adonis
  • Amphitrite
  • Ascalaphus
  • Charites
  • Demeter
  • Despoena
  • Dionysus
  • Hades
  • Hekate
  • Hera
  • Horae
  • Kore
  • Kyane
  • Maia
  • Menthe
  • Moirae
  • Orpheus
  • Proserpina
  • Sirens
  • Styx
  • Zeus

Occult World
From the Encyclopedia of Spirits: The Ultimate Guide to the Magic of Fairies, Genies, Demons, Ghosts, Gods & Goddesses – Written by : Judika Illes Copyright © 2009 by Judika Illes.