At the Equinox, a point of balance of light and dark around the world, I meditate on the balance in my life and look to the connections between the hemispheres and how that manifests in my life. For although the eight paired festivals of the Celtic Wheel of the Year (Winter Solstice & Summer Solstice, Imbolc & Lughnasadh, Spring Equinox & Autumn Equinox, Bealtaine & Samhain) appear to be in opposition — one of each pair manifests as waxing energy and the other with waning energy — there is always a connection, a synergy, a relationship.
The Greeks captured the Equinox energy so well in the tale of the goddess Demeter and her daughter Persephone (aka Kore), where grief gives way to joy and joy turns to grief and manifests as the transformation of the seasons.
You may remember the myth:
The goddess Persephone was abducted by Hades and taken to the Underworld to be his wife. Zeus, her father, had given his consent but did not share that knowledge with her mother, the goddess Demeter. Hearbroken by her daughter’s disappearance, Demeter was lost in anger, grief and despair and punished the world by taking away the gift of Fertility that she had given the Earth. Crops died and wasted. The land became cold.
Realizing the terrible outcome of his action, Zeus relented and commanded Hades to return Persephone to the world. Demeter rejoiced, and the world was once again abundant with new growth. But the girl had tasted the seed of the pomegranate, sacred to the Underworld. For each seed she had consumed, she had to remain in the Underworld for a month each year.
There are many variations in this tale — in some she consumes six seeds, and in others Demeter bargains the time in the Underworld to three months — but all have the commonality of relating Demeter’s grief in Persephone’s descent to the Underworld to the onset of Autumn and Winter, and Demeter’s joy in Persephone’s return to this world to the onset of Spring & Summer.
And Persephone herself was not unchanged by her descent and return. Like Demeter, she too transforms. She learns much from Hades and other inhabitants of The Underworld and in her time away from her mother and the phsyical world, returning with new wisdom.
For does not new growth come from the deep, from the dark: the soil of Mama Earth, the womb of woman, the seed of man, and our deep intuitive self?
There are certainly parallels between the tale of Demeter & Persephone, and that of Inanna, who descends to the Underworld to “rescue” her sister and is reborn before returning to this world stronger and wiser.
Consider a journey or meditation on this tale as you approach the Equinox. For instance, your Soul Questions might be something like this, or others you create your self:
If this is your Autumn Equinox
- step into the position of Demeter and consider what and how you might release and let go (or perhaps what you are grieving)
- step into the position of Persephone and consider the journey ahead and how you might use this time of darkness and rest
If this is your Spring Equinox
- step into the position of Persephone and consider what you have learned and how you have grown while in the Winter darkness
- step into the position of Demeter and consider what you will now birth and grow (or perhaps what brings you joy)