Persephone, Queen of the Underworld
Before Persephone actually became Persephone, Queen of the Underworld, she was known as Kore — the archetypal Maiden or “young girl”. As Kore, the “nameless maiden”, she is the young woman who does not know who she is, which strengths she possesses, what she truly desires, nor what she stands for.
She is, like every woman at some point in her life, overly receptive and vulnerable to the projections and expectations of those around her. Kore is highly relationship-oriented, meaning that she feels the need to constantly be in relationship with others, as this is the only time she seems to feel a sense of identity and well-being. In the myth of Persephone, the projections imposed upon her stem from her mother Demeter — Goddess of the Harvest — and her husband Hades — God of the Underworld. Demeter, though well-meaning, can be deemed as an overbearing mother who promotes dependency in the young Kore. In turn, young Persephone is the “good girl” in a state of eternal youth akin to the likes of Cinderella or Sleeping Beauty whose only dream is to be whisked away by Prince Charming — yet again, awaiting to exist in a state of dependency and passivity at the hands of another external force. The consequences are dire since, if this is the case, many facets of Kore’s psyche and personality will not be stimulated and will remain undeveloped.
While Hades may not be the traditional Prince Charming we envision in our minds, his role still stands. Depending on the woman, marriage or any long-term romantic relationship can often either serve as the Maiden’s awakening or the catalyst for the Maiden’s true awakening. Persephone as Kore is abducted and dragged down into the Underworld by Hades against her will. At the time, she is a child-woman who is unaware of her beauty and sexuality, yet is the apple of Hades’ eye — a God who is her superior in both age and power. She is the archetypal alluring virgin who desires to be desired, but who — due to her extremely compliant and agreeable nature — lacks true passion and confidence in herself as a sensual being. What’s more, as a woman who identifies strongly with the Anima — what Jungian psychology would describe as the unconscious feminine side of the psyche — young Persephone readily adapts herself to male wishes, since she is not self-aware enough to understand and claim her own subjective truth. His truth, in turn, becomes her truth, always to her own detriment as truth is something each individual must authentically decide for themselves.
In order for Kore to truly transform into Persephone, Queen of the Underworld — to transform from the eternal girl to the mature woman — she must develop her Animus, the unconscious masculine side of the psyche. She must willingly and independently descend into the Underworld for one third of the year, which metaphorically symbolizes navigating both the “darkness” of the material world — the mystery and the challenges — as well as the psychological unknowns or “Shadow” hidden within the unconscious mind. Just as Kore is easily victimized by those around her within the myth, any woman who embodies young Persephone will continue to attract situations and people who victimize and attempt to control her unless she meets her Shadow face to face and integrates it from a place of compassion and personal power.
Unlike Kore, Persephone does not define herself as a victim, martyr, or saint. Persephone is not afraid to say, “No”. Persephone does not blame others for her problems. Persephone does not fight against the cyclical inevitability of endings. Persephone relinquishes her attachment to the “good girl”, recognizing that — paradoxically — it was this, all along, that cast the darkest Shadow.
While maintaining the virtues of the archetypal Maiden & Goddess of Spring — receptivity, empathy, intuition, imagination, and creativity — Persephone, as Queen of the Underworld, chooses to be whole rather than “good” or perfect. Persephone speaks her truth regardless of whether it displeases others. Persephone sets clear, defined boundaries, even if it brings about conflict or uncomfortable situations. Persephone not only knows but embraces separation, sexuality, and death in all its forms. Persephone works endlessly to bring the unconscious to the conscious, always seeing her own projections onto others as signs of what needs to be healed and integrated within herself. Persephone uses the knowledge & wisdom she has gained from her descent into the Underworld to guide others safely and graciously through their own darkness in order to discover the totality of their light.
Artist: Cheyenne Zarate