Celebrating Spring with the Legend of Persephone
Spring is a season swathed in myth and legend, from the earliest years of human existence, stories have been told to narrativize the earth’s natural cycle of life. Spring first stirs in March and stretches into late June. The sun’s rays open sealed flower buds and draw blossom from bare tree branches. From lambs to chicks, all manner of small creatures are born into a world waking up.
This earthly celebration of life and nature is something few would link to tales of the underworld. And yet, in one of the most famous stories of Greek mythology, spring is about just that: Persephone, and her holiday away from Hades’ deathly realm. Read on to hear the ancient tale.
Anyone even vaguely familiar with Greek mythology will know that the Greek gods, though powerful and immortal, had a rather large weak spot when it came to beauty. And Persephone was beautiful. Daughter of Demeter (the goddess of harvest and fertility) and Zeus (ruler of the gods himself), she was both lovely and joyous, but also sheltered and naive.
Demeter was fiercely protective of her daughter as she drew the attention of many suitors. Amongst these hopeful prospective lovers was Hades. God of the underworld, Hades was dark and embittered from his eternal servitude in the realm of the dead, so he was surprised to find himself moved by Persephone’s youth and vitality.
But Demeter was far from happy about Hades’ interest in her daughter, in fact, she bluntly snubbed his request to marry Persephone. Unfortunately for Demeter, the god of the underworld seldom played by the rules. Demeter’s refusal only strengthened his determination to possess the young goddess.
Oblivious to the scheming of this dark immortal, Persephone was one day enjoying the tranquil beauty of a bright green valley. She had just leaned down to admire a particularly lovely flower when the earth tore itself apart, and from the torrent of soil and decay emerged Hades on an imposing chariot pulled by flint-black horses. He abducted the young maiden, taking her down deep, deep into the earth while the opened valley healed itself and returned to normal, as if nothing had ever happened.
The gods were a rather political bunch. While Demeter - who was distraught and dumbstruck by Persephone’s unexplained disappearance - sought desperately for answers, Zeus and the sun god, Helios, did not make a fuss about the abduction they had witnessed. To do so would be sure to stir up an immortal war that they would rather avoid. It was not until Demeter made an emotive plea to Helios that she found out the truth about what had happened to her daughter.
Enraged by Hades’ actions and the idleness of Zeus and the other gods, Demeter took revenge in a brutal and devastating way; she ceased to fulfill her duties as goddess of harvest and fertility. Planes of land succumbed to famine, crops turned brown and the fruits of the earth withered.
While Zeus deliberated about the best way to resolve this messy situation, Hades was already scheming to ensure his new wife would stay with him in the underworld. Though she was distraught, Persephone was coaxed into eating just a few seeds of a pomegranate. Unbeknownst to the young goddess, the food of the underworld bore an unnatural charm; just a few bites could acclimatize even a quite unwilling victim into loving this most unnatural home.
And so, when Zeus finally gave into Demeter’s wishes, the harvest goddess was most shocked to hear her daughter’s refusal when asked if she would like to return to Olympus. After much debate, a compromise was reached. For half the year, Persephone would stay with her husband and fulfill her role as Queen of the underworld; for the other six months she would return to her mother in shining Olympus.
And so, the seasons were formed. During the months of fall and winter, Demeter’s unhappiness held her attention, rendering the ground unfruitful and dry. But in the cheerful spring and summer months, Persephone’s long visit would make Demeter beam with happiness and return the earth to prosperity and harvest.
Persephone’s tale is one of complexity and beauty; this myth is how the Greeks explained the changing of the seasons in ancient times. Both Persephone’s beauty and her mother’s joy can be identified in the renewal of the warmer seasons. Gemstones are formed deep beneath the earth’s surface, nearly touching the realm of the underworld and Persephone’s half-home.
You can see the glimmer of the fateful pomegranate seeds in the deep reddish-purple of garnet, the blooming colors of spring are encased in rainbow moonstone, while Persephone’s dark and powerful side is embodied in the glint of black spinel. If you’re looking to add a touch of the mythic to your style in these spring and summer months, what better way than with some gemstone jewelry? Available in a vast array of colors, both dark like the Queen of the underworld, and vibrant like her goddess mother,click here to view our newest arrivals.