≈| a conversation between Gregory Baisden and Rebekah Lovejoy |≈
GSB | We were talking about the difference between Dark Persephone and Persephone as Queen. And Dark Persephone is the Kore. And the reason she’s the Kore is because instead of opening to her mother with compassion, and opening to Hades with compassion, for these three interstitial months, she uses them as a withholding where she’s actually claiming herself and defending herself and withholding herself in a space between the two poles of the Dark Lord and her mother. But the reason Dark Persephone needs to hold that space between the Dark Lord and the Great Mother is because she has not integrated the two of them through compassion.
By contrast, Queen Persephone gives four months of the year to her mother as a generous act of compassion and affirmation, and she gives four months of the year to her husband as an act of compassion and affirmation, and then she spends four months for herself not as an act of defense or containment or withholding but as an act of regeneration.
And that’s what Queen Persephone is: she moves from the Princess of Flowers to the Queen of Regeneration. She’s the regenerative element in nature. She’s the regenerative power of Demeter. And she is — signally, crucially — the regenerative power of the Underworld. She’s what brings life back to Hades; the whole Underworld starts to shift at that point.
RDL | And a piece of this is that the manifestation of Dark Persephone is a sort of psychologically virginal Persephone in a negative sense, who doesn’t actually have the capacity — hasn’t experienced coupling as a sharing integration. Therefore the sexuality that’s presented to her body is always a rape, as opposed to a transformation into womanhood and into marriage.
GSB | The psychological rape of her mother dominating her, which requires this break. And the physical rape of Hades abducting her, which is what they meant by rape: abduction, because he was taking her into a life that she didn’t appear to be ready for because she hadn’t been properly prepared. She didn’t know what it was like to pair.
RDL | Yeah. And in the natural, sort of, marital progression, what should occur, what would occur, in a positive light is a sharing integration, and choosing to be present. Which is why in the myth she chooses the seeds and actually does eat them. And then creates a secret from her mother because now she’s a woman and can make that choice, to have that separation. But in the, sort of, current reading, she’s raped and forced and therefore you get the negative Kore: the married woman who is incapable of actually opening and sharing in a coupling intimacy.
GSB | So there’s the — one of the tricks is in the seed. Because she’s literally receiving the seed of Hades, so we can look at it in that regard.
But the main thing is choice. And that’s what differentiates Dark Persephone from, I think, Queen Persephone. Because the choice is the interstitial space, and what you do with that choice is you either are generative — which doesn’t mean giving yourself up; quite the contrary: it means knowing yourself strongly enough that you can be compassionate and embody compassion in your giving. Whereas if you make the opposite choice, which is to withhold, you’re actually creating a narcissistic dilemma of restraint.
RDL | Choice, but also the physical experiential of opening. Because there’s a moment — and I’m going to use sexuality as the metaphor here — there’s a moment in sexuality where when you want to have an orgasm, you want to cum, you can choose to either try to work to cum and cling, or you can open and trust that you will cum in the process of being open without having to do the work yourself.
GSB | Yet the choice of generative openness versus withholding containment is the Great Work: opening to trust and flow, the process that facilitates and even amplifies orgasm, versus grasping reaching, clinging, working to cum. An interesting phrase at the end: “without having to do the work yourself.” Yes, in terms of allowing the trust and flow that facilitates and even amplifies orgasm. Again, such allowance of opening is, in fact, “The Work,” a major responsibility of “yourself,” rather than the work and effort of grasping, clinging.
So, cumming not as a clenching, as a grasping — and in a certain regard as a withholding or enclosing energy — but rather as an opening and a flowing and a giving in to the energy. In which case you’re not grasping at the energy: you’re letting the energy flow through you. And that is orgasm. And it’s also intimacy.
And it’s also the forgiveness. And that’s how Queen Persephone comes back into compassion with her mother and regenerates the world. And comes into compassion with her husband, and attains a real intimacy that not only salves his aloneness, his tyrannical brooding aloneness, but it catalyzes the entire Underworld, because she is the light and brings life to the Underworld.
So in the instance of the rape we were talking about an abduction, and let’s talk about responsible parties. Because Persephone, Kore, is in the field looking at flowers — which you contend is a narcissus and I say is representative of the narcissus, whether the myth calls it literally a narcissus: a flower that she gazes into. That is the narcissistic syndrome: looking for a reflection, identification, a sense of self. And because of the withheld state she’s in, she’s not an equal partner with her mother; she’s not an equal partner with Hades; she’s not a goddess. Until she creates that median space between the goddess and the god and becomes the Queen of the Underworld.
And gazing into the flower, she is asking for the revelation. And what comes first is the revelation of shadow.
RDL | Nice.
GSB | I love the piece about the virginal self: she’s a perpetually virginal self. Until she eats the seeds, really. Until she ingests, takes the seeds in.
RDL | Right. And in terms of our current society, I think that it’s an interesting sort of thing that there seem to be so many women that sit in that space of not being able to share, not being able to actually open themselves to a sharing intimacy. And that’s, you know, regardless of what it is.
GSB | Is that a function of feeling taken by the male?
RDL | I think it’s a function of being encouraged to remain Kore. I think we value Kore so completely in our fascination with youth and “pretty” and, you know, all of that. It goes with the anorexia. It’s like an emotional anorexia. And it’s so consistent with this, kind of, inability to get to the next level of womanhood that we’re suffering from. And — just to take it to the next myth: the next possible initiation is Psyche and pregnancy, right? And the beginning of that understanding: of the possibility that intimacy can occur in the process of sharing and becoming no longer Kore during that pregnant moment, right?
GSB | As a note, for me this conjures the loss of life or loss of soul represented by Eurydice. The Orpheus myth “occurs” between Persephone and Psyche, which precedes Ariadne.
I love the image of pregnant psyche, because it’s Psyche coming into fullness. And also we know that the result is Harmony.
I want to stay with Persephone from the standpoint that, if you look at it in terms of patriarchy-slash-matriarchy and the taking of the Kore, the culture does privilege holding: it encourages the withholding, the self protection of the Kore by imposing not necessarily an intimacy but a marriage. And let’s call it that, a marriage. And that is true: it is imposed on Persephone.
The transformative moment in Persephone, the reactive moment, is the withholding. Which is what you’re talking about, I think, with a lot of women in our society because they are compelled — economically; I guess they think emotionally; but for a variety of reasons — they feel compelled into a marriage.
And we can have a debate as to whether marriage is even the natural state of humans, the monogamous pattern, but it is a social control pattern.
Now, taking it back the other way, there is the woman who becomes Queen Persephone, who recognizes that she is the one who does have choice in the midst of that. And she not only transmutes her origination in the Demeter myth, but she transforms it in relation to Hades — and she transforms Hades. So that’s what I mean by the underworld being transformed.
But think of it this way as well: on the one hand you have the patriarchy coming down and sweeping up the proto-goddess, the daughter of the goddess, away from the model of the goddess. And we look at that as an evil and a bad because she’s coerced. But she transmutes it.
And here’s one of the other implications: why does she need to go through that abduction, where we’re emphasizing her persisting in Dark Kore or becoming Queen Persephone?
And that’s how we should refer to it: Dark Kore, not Dark Persephone. Although Dark Persephone is good because the woman who persists in that state is a dark Persephone.
But look at Demeter. She’s totally fecund and totally generative, but she’s not married. She has no intimate partner. So, through the course of the Persephone abduction, some people theorize, Demeter finds intimacy on the other side. But she’s actually defiant of intimacy: she didn’t want to have intimacy with Zeus, which gave her Persephone in the first place.
As another note, while Demeter’s defiance of intimacy with Zeus represents her claim on autonomy, does it also suggest her underlying awareness that such intimacy will diminish or channel her powers — as perhaps codified in her regenerative element becoming vested in the Kore?
So there’s a resistance to a progress in the psyche. It’s a clinging to the cycle without any progress or movement in the cycle, do you see what I mean? In fact, there is no cycle because it’s all Springtime under Demeter.
RDL | Then there’s another piece to this coming up for me, which is that Hades and Persephone after this myth — the Underworld is always Hades and Persephone. So you get — actually, it’s one of the models, one of the few models, in the Greek mythologies in which a man and a woman rule their house together.
GSB | As distinct from Zeus and Hera, who are at odds all the time.
RDL | Who are at odds all the time.
GSB | That’s a good one. Name another one who does that. Aphrodite and Ares don’t do it. Zeus and Hera don’t do it.
RDL | Right. They’ll have — they might be a coupling, but it’s not them in their house. It’s not them ruling a court. It doesn’t have the sense of side-by-side. So in a sense — it was when you started talking about the transformation of Hades within that construct: it’s like, oh, right, because in her positive space, in her true queenliness, she becomes a sharing of a coupling in which the household is mutually run.
GSB | And the Underworld is transmuted by that because she brings hope and light back to it. So that’s crucial. Because if we look at Hades abducting Kore as the patriarchy subverting the matriarchy — because remember Demeter’s not married: she’s in a perpetual state of generative grace. Which is — everyone’s, like, “Oh, right. Good, because there’s no winter.” But wait a minute: Winter serves a purpose, it gives the world a chance to regenerate on new terms.
So, when you think about it in those terms, when you think about Persephone transmuting Hades, that’s the new model, because they’re moving forward in partnership. It doesn’t seem that way because it’s Hell. But if the point of it is a salvational experience of afterlife, then that is a crucial piece moving forward.
Now, I was thinking we should title our proposed Persephone essay — we were thinking of calling it, we were calling it “Dark Persephone,” yet haven’t decided on a title for it. What if the title was “Seeds and Secrets”? Or “Seed and Secret.” Because one of the things you said that — please expound upon — is the secret she keeps from her mother. What’s that? Why is that psychologically necessary? What are we talking about with that?
RDL | Right. So, basically, the part that struck me the most in the myth is that she accepts the pomegranate seeds, but then when her mother asks her about it she tells her mother that she was force fed. And so she doesn’t actually own up to her mother that she accepted the seeds. So her own sexuality, her own personal intimacy, becomes hers, and is no longer something she gifts back to her mother as a sharing. She actually holds it back as, “Now I’m an adult woman, and this is not part of your purview.”
And you can look at it two ways. You can look at it in the way that, in Eden, Adam and Eve — Adam denies his choice in the eating of the apple. And that is a part of his sin, is the denial. That he says, “Well, Eve gave it to me.” He doesn’t take full credit for it. And this is that same thing. You know, you could say, “Oh, well, Persephone is denying her part in the role.” Or you can say — and it can go either way — she’s making a boundary between her mother and herself. Because she is no longer simply her mother’s daughter.
GSB | And yet — another note here on the nature of her choice. This is problematic: a Kore choice or a Persephone choice, the difference between Dark Persephone (or, let us say, perpetual Kore) and Queen Persephone: withholding rather than disclosing; perpetual subordinate childhood rather than personal responsibility and ownership; unconsciousness or victimhood over self-awareness and personal affirmation.
And what are the implications of that in terms of openness and disclosure and intimacy? Because then the intimacy contains — you might call it a deception, but let’s call it a withholding.
RDL | I think part of intimacy is creating a sacred space for the intimacy that others are no longer invited into. I think there’s a ritual space in that. And Hades and Persephone are the perfect illustration of that. My god, they are the Underworld, right? The Underworld is where the unconscious is. They’ve created a sacred space for themselves in the Underworld. That’s profound. That’s extremely powerful.
GSB | And an initiatory space into which people having gone through tempering life come to be renewed, rejuvenated.
As an aside, I wonder: what of polyamory? Who’s not invited?
Another thing I’d like to ask you about, to have you speak to, is: Part of this withholding of sacred space is that —
Now, we’re not castigating Demeter, but to this point Demeter has been the generative queen who relies upon her daughter for some of her power. Obviously, a mother gives some of her power into her daughter. So Demeter kind of sustains things — this is very interesting to me: Demeter keeps things sustained in a fecund moment of, let’s call it Summertime. Which is interesting — I’m just going to make an aside — when you think about Galadriel or the Fairy Queene as the Queen of the Summer Realm, that unending realm, that pristine state: that to me is cognate with Demeter.
But when you look at, again, just talking about that in terms of the myth: there’s Kore in Demeter’s train, and Kore’s the one who brings new life. Demeter has sustained life. And they don’t talk about it: there’s obviously a cycle to it: the apples do have to grow on the tree. But to some degree, there’s Demeter and there’s trees with fruit on them. But Kore is the one who makes new seed grow, so that is an important fecundity that Demeter doesn’t actually have, or that went into Kore. When Kore takes it for her own — this is how I interpret your sacred space versus withholding — she takes it into the Underground and it becomes a seeding, a blossoming of Psyche.
And I would ask, what are the implications of Kore individuating from a dry, bitter, barren, angry Demeter? Mustn’t she battle the inertia of following suit, of becoming just like her mother?
RDL | Right. Right. And which — if we’re going to look at it just really quickly from the matriarchy/patriarchy point of view, the transition from an initial matriarchy at least in the feminism fantasy — is that there was this never-ending, sort of, cycle of matriarchal fecund being, and we all lived in an ouroboric state with the mother that was part of nature and there was no psychological —
GSB | Progression. Good or bad.
RDL | Right. And no goal-oriented moving forward, no linear time. None of that stuff was marked yet.
GSB | No alternation or — that’s a good one: no marking of the stations of accrued knowledge.
RDL | Right. So we get into this new space, and the seed planting is Persephone, and she becomes — we start to see that moves itself from this, sort of, ourobouric consciousness down into the unconscious, into the Underworld, where we use it as part of our creative process, as part of the alchemical process of creativity. But it doesn’t live. It doesn’t rule anymore. Now we have all of these goal-oriented, rule-based systems — because we’re in the patriarchy, in its initial phases.
GSB | We’ve overcompensated. But one of the things, the signal things — and we can talk about what the lesson was: humanity was in a womb-like state of childhood. They’re not Adam and Eve anymore. They’re not in a state of infantile innocence. But they’re in a childlike state of dependency and following. Just like Kore. And so Kore coming into her adolescence and perhaps into adulthood, that’s a symbol for humanity. Because humanity now has to deal with the seasons. They’re out of Eden. They have to deal with the seasons. They have to deal with pain. They have to be able to survive. They are able to mark time. And they have to create a system where they do have to be somewhat goal-oriented because grain doesn’t — you can’t just grab berries off a tree anymore. Which is why there’s Triptolomous and the Eumenides.
RDL | Which may be the progression from Hades and Persephone in the Underworld into Hell, because we’re going into a space, right, as we progress into goal and getting — goal means right and wrong, because sometimes you’re doing it right and sometimes you’re doing it wrong, right? So you actually are taking the split. And as the split progresses, you start to get — good and evil becomes much more of a big deal. We stop integrating. We stop being completely integrated in that innocence, and we start to actually have to do differentiation. This is the Queen of Swords here: you’ve got to differentiate; you’ve got to create an understanding of what is right and wrong. Persephone is the Queen of Swords, by the way.
GSB | Yet another aside: It’s fascinating to think of the Hades-Persephone partnership as codifying a split, a separation of powers, as with Kore from Demeter: a progress of differentiation unto individuation. Differentiation, or discernment, of “right and wrong” is at root about effective and ineffective choices turned into moral imperatives — something the Hebrews excel at, in the name of social cohesion and control and coherence. Diaspora necessitating ideology?
So, then, Persephone as the Queen of Differentiation, discretion. What’s so brilliant about that — one of the things that’s brilliant about that: I love that you’ve identified a progression into a hell state. Let’s call it adharma: we’re moving into Kali Yuga. But there’s two things to that: is that humanity falling into spiritual disarray? Yes. But isn’t there a purpose to that spiritual disarray? And, as we’ve just identified, it’s a way of taking humanity from its innocence. We look at that as a fall from grace — that’s the anti-life interpretation of it. But it’s not a fall from grace. It’s a removal. It’s a departure from grace, to move through the stations of innocence into experience.
Ha. Note to self: cross-reference this with Edward Edinger’s The Eternal Drama, pages 166 through 173.
RDL | So — Ah! Because, also, to move through the adolescent time period of that intellectual understanding back into adulthood — and Kore by her very nature symbolizes the transformation from childhood through adolescence into the adult nature. Which is one of the fascinating things, and how we’ve, sort of, spiraled into this negative Kore. In many ways its manifestation is because we are at this stage, this breakthrough, into becoming adult. We’re actually supposed to be moving out of our adolescence at this phase. And so we’ve got this whole, kind of, stubborn, almost petulant adolescent read of this transition as something other than it is. And thus we’re creating — we now have the opportunity to have that adult awakening from adolescence.
GSB | We are actually creating the hell from our way of interpreting it as a fall from grace rather than as a movement through adolescence.
So, this resonates with my notion of The Anti-Life Equation, which I have identified before as this immaturity in humanity, a refusal of phenomenal experience because it’s hard, because it’s difficult, because it’s the Queen of Swords. But that’s the point of the movement: to bring us back into not a state of grace that’s externalized as Demeter giving us a fecund world but a state of grace of our own choice in how we’re going to conduct ourselves or steward ourselves in the world. That’s why the transit from Dark Persephone or Dark Kore to Queen Persephone is predicated on choice.
Now, just bear with me for a second, because here’s where we get into a trippy flip.
We’re talking about — and this is great also in terms of a quaternary progression we’ve discussed before: Hades and Persephone, Orpheus and Eurydice, Eros and Psyche, Dionysus and Ariadne — we’re talking about adolescence here.
If this is not a fall from a state of immaculate purity, it’s a step away from that immaculate purity because we’re not infants; that was the immaculate purity of the infant, the child in the womb and in infancy. If it’s an actual transmutation through the stages of adolescence into a self-referenced adulthood, then we go back to Hamlet. Because symbolic of, representative of, the Dark Kore is Ophelia, who is a princess of flowers who is drowned. Why is she drowned? Because Hamlet refuses her the seed of his love. Why does Hamlet refuse her the seed of his love? Because he is enwrapped in a rigid patriarchal structure that has not only usurped the feminine — which is Gertrude, the sister of the usurper king Claudius — but has committed, and regularly commits, fratricide. Because Claudius killed his own brother in the name of power. Shades of Cain and Abel.
So that’s the hell that we’re living in, where the patriarchy has taken away the Queen of Summer and has subjected both the regenerative prince and the regenerative princess into a round of being able to deny the very act of intimate love, which would have regenerated the kingdom, in the name of coercive power. Which is what Queen Persephone saves Hades from brooding on. And takes us back to Romeo and Juliet.
RDL | Oh! So then add to that. That’s brilliant. Add to that the new trend in fundamentalism, which attempts to take the feminine and compress it back into a perpetual Kore state, even in the married state, and therefore completely misreads that marriage as being part of the essential nature of marriage. And wants us to regress back and remain within this adolescent space because of fear and because of reactive, sort of, insufficiencies. And thus is trying not to educate women, is trying to marry them off as children, doing all of these things to keep them Kore. Even in marriage. So even in our, sort of, modernist society we have women who are, sort of, remaining in that zone: anorexic, whatever. Remaining these Kores —
GSB | Unactualized girls.
RDL | Unactualized girls. The response of the patriarchy — which is the fundamentalist reaction in its last stage, unintegrated, you know, having taken over and not wanting to let go into the next phase — is that it also agrees that the Kore is an essential element: to keep the Kore stagnant and not allow her to make the next step is an essential element of that adolescent space.
GSB | What you call a fundamentalist reaction I would suggest as actually an ideological reaction, which is an oligarchy overwrapping a desiccated patriarchy.
And it’s also symptomatic of The Anti-Life Equation, because in this fundamentalist structure — based on the narrative — what they are craving is a return to Eden. Heaven is an astralized Eden. And in an Edenic state, Adam and Eve weren’t equal. Adam and Lilith weren’t equal, and Lilith was run off. But Eve was subservient: she was the servant of man. And that had to change. Which is why she ate that apple.
Which, as another aside, begs consideration of the implications of Adam’s anima needing to compel him from a kind of stasis of Edenic sleep — a service, if you will, of anima or soul to the human body immersed in phenomenal living.
And that’s what a child has to do: eat the apple of knowledge to differentiate and individuate. And then they’re confronted with their choice: are they going to live a life that is selfish, a life of withdrawal and denial ultimately of their own ability to be intimate? Or are they going to make a choice of embodied compassion — which is what Gaia actually is, a vale of soul-making through embodied compassion. Is the abducted Kore going to become generative toward her primary relationships in intimacy, as well as to herself? Because she’s got — the year’s broken into three parts, and one of them serves as exclusively Persephone’s time. And that’s her ability to be the artist, to be self-regenerating: to explore her own seeds. Because it is part of human nature: she has to be generative to her parents; she has to be generative to her partner. She also has to be generative to herself. When she begrudges her generativity to either of them not only does her mother not regenerate, and neither does Hades, but she does not grow.
Why is this important psychologically?
Wait. Another note. If she refuses that generativity to herself — perhaps by “giving everything” to her relationships — she actually expends herself, often ineffectively, with little left to offer those relations, let alone to herself, and comes to resent and thus destroy them, and often herself, through emotional derangements like apathy or depression, or through addiction, disease, and various forms of acting out the unresolved dilemma. Yet she does this, makes this choice, “wrongly” — that is, from ego rather than actual need. Because her relations have only “taken” what she has insistently given. And given insistently and, I would say, ulteriorly, transactionally, in a compensatory effort, no doubt, to induce or “win” a like “giving.” Yet this is a malign “giving,” the supposed yet false generosity of a Dark Persephone bound to “serve” her relationships at the expense of herself, and without negotiation or even real communication, followed by externalized resentment for her choice. The more effective choice would be to stand in herself — provided she’s willing to find and nurture and be that self — and let that self be the reliable figure in the intimacy that suits her, serves her, embodies compassion in her dealings and relationships, with others. That authenticity and integrity would for me define Queen Persephone, a true goddess, by which I mean one in possession of her powers and authority, which derives, I think significantly, from her self-responsibility: her self-knowing and self-responsiveness, as well as her accepted culpability in her wants, desires, needs, and choices.
Now, why is this important psychologically? Because we are talking about going from a meter-less, unmarked, unprogressive, unchanging idyllic Summer that is by its very nature static, and by its very nature doesn’t progress: Eve never moves into a place a equality with Adam; Adam never comes into a place of understanding with Eve. So what you have is a false situation from which they have to fall. They have to move out of that grace to progress. And I think that’s what’s happening with Queen Persephone: she’s giving us the keys to show the nature of the progression through intimacy to self-actualization.
RDL | And also finding a place within the cycle of that generativeness in a psyche that isn’t ourobouric. So, when the psyche, when the whole world, is in that, sort of, mother space, you can plant seeds all the time and they’ll do their thing, whatever, they have no cycle and no growth. But when you swing the cycle to the father, to the patriarch, it’s very easy to end up just cutting down everything.
GSB | Yeah. Well, that’s the idea. We’re destroying the planet, at least as a plane for human survival. We’re harvesting everything.
RDL | So it’s important for psyche’s seeds to find their way into this other process. To have the ability to be in secret. To have the ability to be in a place that is always there, and always available, but a part of a cycle, so that you’re moving and progressing through it. And —
GSB | And the reason for the cycle is that you can’t have perpetual harvest. You deplete your resources. And everyone needs — it’s sleep. It’s the sleep of the psyche to regenerate itself. Yet not so much a secret process as a sacred process, a recognition of the sacrality of the cycle, and thus of the entropy or mortality as well as the fecund generativity of phenomenal life.
RDL | Right. But that’s where Winter — the whole thing, right? It’s the same thing. But in a misread you can actually destroy Persephone’s ability to actually plant those seeds. Because you’ve misunderstood the role that Hades plays within the relationship.
GSB | And in our culture we see that because Demeter is enchained. She’s a cow kept perpetually pregnant strapped to a milking machine.
RDL | That’s right. And Persephone is never allowed to plant her seed and make the choice that she planted. Because she’s actually supposed to somehow remain Kore, even on her return. And she’s supposed to have been violated against her will, and not actually chosen the seeds.
GSB | And in the modern culture, we are given lots of options: “Doritos? Or Bugles? Or potato chips?” But we have no choice. No real choice. The system is static. And that is The Anti-Life Equation. Because humanity went through this breakthrough to get into a series of progressions where we would mature into — and let’s be New Age about it, or psychological about it — actualization of self, or effectualization of our spiritual selves on the planet. Yet modern society retreats from that: we’ve gone through a passage where now we’re being maintained in our perpetual adolescence. This is again why the Persephone myth is so important. Because it shows us the necessary fall from grace, the necessary rape, the necessary abduction, that sets us on the path to progression, to individuation. But now it’s been arrested.
RDL | Right. And there’s a place that we miss which — going back to sexuality as a thing — there’s a choice we make to be open, to take in the seed. There’s a moment where we can choose to take in the seed, and we’re not being taught about that openness. There’s no exercises for that openness. Currently.
GSB | Well, I would mention that, of course, there are such exercises, highly potent, agelessly old. But our static system doesn’t privilege them, or even much discuss them.
One of the elements of Eros and Psyche is that Psyche is, again, in a kind of idyllic state but it’s a state of mystery, and she — the psyche — requires disclosure. She doesn’t go about it, doesn’t have the means — let’s say externally, but internally also — to go about it. So it results in an act of transgression. But that act of transgression, the momentum of that transgression, propels her through what, I think, you’re talking about, which is doing the tasks that bring you back to a place of internal grace. Which is not to endorse some form of the Broken Window Fallacy, but to acknowledge the gifts that, with burgeoning consciousness, unconscious transgression may yield.
RDL | Right. But in Persephone’s case —
GSB | And the internal grace is requisite to the intimacy of sharing it in an external space. Because what we have is the imposition of an external grace — and you’re just supposed to follow it — that is to some degree monstrous Eros: he doesn’t let her see himself. And it is to some degree patriarchal Hades. So, see, we have not only Dark Persephone but we have Dark Hades. But —
RDL | Right. Well, yeah, we have Satan. We don’t even have Dark Hades. They already gave it to us.
GSB | So not only does Persephone represent the possibility of moving through adolescence and how that can become arrested. She also carries implications — seeds — for the Psyche element to that, which you mentioned and which was very compelling to me. Because she goes through a similar transit. But, again, we’re going from a place of externalized grace, looking for love externally, being worthy of love externally, to finding ourselves and loving ourselves. Not so that were self-contained, exactly — although we are: we’re unitive; we’re individuated. But so that we can then share that internal intimacy with our own anima or animus, externally with another. Which is what you and I are doing all the time. We talked about it yesterday: Love Yourself. The reason that you and I are able to even have these kind of conversations is that we’ve encouraged each other and reminded each other and inspire each other to love ourselves.
RDL | Yes. And to make our choice again and again: to take in the seed. So, what’s interesting to me is that there’s a spot in the myth where it’s kind of a mystery. Where the myth doesn’t tell you, “And then she opened.” You don’t get the psychological, “And then she opened and allowed the seed.”
GSB | But the myth’s job isn’t to lay it out, spell it out, because that would not be initiation but doctrine.
RDL | Exactly. So, that is the moment where we can do the read wrong or right. Or, I won’t even say wrong or right —
GSB | We can make the effective or defective, or ineffective, choice — a constructive or destructive choice.
RDL | Exactly. To add to that, going forward a little bit to the Demeter stuff: where Persephone remains Kore, becomes Dark Persephone, Demeter’s response in the negative capacity of a depressive, sort of obsessive, deflecting mother is also a possible response to the patriarchal, like, removal from the matriarchy. Once you’ve removed the potential for the mother to be generative within this new patriarchal system, to find her place within it, it is possible to do an alternative space with that and go towards this very smothering, depressed, disengaged, disconnected, flat-lined mother.
GSB | Love that: depressive, flat-lined mother. Bitter, which we see a lot.
Now, one of the things I want to add to that, which is so interesting to me is that — ironically? Here she is putting Demophoön in the fire, to give him the immortality that all human beings crave, and the humans react as though she’s trying to destroy the child. And they actually destroy Domophoön’s possibility of even being immortal. So there’s an irony there. She’s taking this withheld generativity, and she’s about to vest it in a human being and make him immortal, and that of course is negative: now she’s imposing, now she’s making assumptions in regard to the patriarchy. But it would have been a curse to him. And, in fact, Metaneira says to Demeter, when she realizes the gift she’s refused, in effect, by panicking, “Oh, my god, I wouldn’t want him to live forever.”
So, you see, there’s so many good lessons in that, and that’s an important one. Because, I think, one of the things that underlies The Anti-Life Equation is the human immaturity that, “Oh, if we could all just live forever.”
RDL | In the ouroboric fantasy of the past, Eden. Yes.
GSB | That was the thing I wanted to just reiterate, because that’s good: moving back, this idea that we want to get back to Eden. For me a crucial piece of this is not to disregard or disdain matriarchy as a perpetual state without progress, but to address the questions begged by that and to start the forward momentum.
Now, the problem with forward momentum is that we then think that what it’s about is one great ending, which I guess we’re hoping will be Armageddon. What we forget is that this is the opportunity to create an internal process of choice, which is the free will. That is the salvation. That is the redeeming element of discrete, sword-like, dichotomous experience. It’s the choice. That’s the tempering of the soul.
So this literalist desire to come to an end point — “Well, we’ve started the clock, it must end at twelve, it must end at 13-dot-zero-dot-zero-dot-zero-dot-zero” — is missing the point. Because what we’ve done is we’ve — This is very important. We’ve exited the samsaric wheel of perpetual ouroboric existence yet instead of trying to rid ourselves of phenomenal existence as an incarceration of spirit, our task must be to engage incarnation as a process of actualization, as the Great Work of soul-making. The goal is not to come to humanity’s extinction, but to come to humanity’s apotheosis.
RDL | That’s why, I think, Millennialism has been around for so long, and why we’re right now currently generating so many apocalyptical stories: because we are in the moment of choice between actually deciding that we in are a linear time that has a goal and the end is the end of the world, or of remembering and coming through to the other side to a new, now-conscious cycle.
GSB | Precisely. We are at the moment of adolescent choice, where we are either going to withhold and go into our own apocalyptic extinction (suicide, quite literally), or we are going to choose to eat the generative seeds, our shadow circumstances, that will lead us to a regeneration.
RDL | That’s right. And you can see — actually, what’s fascinating to me is that Millennialism as we know it has been around since about 1100. And that’s basically the time at which our adolescence started to get a little bit too intense. Like, if you think about —
GSB | Well, we entered Kali Yuga, for sure. We entered the destructive phase, the destructive circumstance requiring effective or ineffective choice.
RDL | The patriarchy had already been going on for awhile. So we’d just entered the place in which patriarchy was starting to be not a good fit, and we had to start remerging out to the other side.
GSB | That’s a good distinction, because it acknowledges that patriarchy did answer some crucial questions. We’re framing it as patriarchy gave us progressive momentum. The problem with that, as I was saying, is that it becomes linear, deterministic, fatalistic.
RDL | Right. And so this is where all the linearity and all of the rational fixation and, literally, all of the political ramifications of that started to get a little bit jolted. And at that moment we get this, sort of, Millennialist myth that we — typical adolescence, we ran with. Like Punk Rock.
GSB | And it’s the ultimate expression of Anti-Life. See, this is so great because what we’re talking about now is the key to the opposite of Anti-Life, which is the regenerative, the Recombinant Mythology. Because the trick is not to get off the round of the samsaric wheel — which we might be able to do spiritually, but this is still the planet of phenomenal experience, of spiritual growth, the vale of soul-making. If we’re not going to destroy it, or destroy ourselves on it as a way of getting out of it, we can actually meet its terms and work within the cyclicity of it where we teach ourselves that we’re here for this term to actualize ourselves, and then we depart — perhaps to return, perhaps not to return. And, I say again, that’s what the Mayans did. They realized that they didn’t have to return: not from a place of repudiation or renunciation, but from a place of actualized relinquishment.
RDL | Right. And exactly at the point where an adolescent has to decide, “O.K., I’m ready to grow up,” and to live the rest of this life. Which is also the point at which a lot of adolescents commit suicide, become drug addicts. And that is the Kore. That is Dark Persephone. Suicide is a classic example of Persephone in action.
GSB | Exactly: unable to make the choice to live, to regenerate, Dark Persephone fills the coffers of her soul-realm, and thus fulfills her work, but as a kind of anti-life profiteering.
RDL | Unable to do that. But if we make the choice, then we move into this whole other trip, which is like, “Wow, look at the responsibility and the intensity and the love that we have to have to be grown-ups on this planet that moves on no matter what, endlessly, even though we are a fleeting moment.”
GSB | Actually to make it better. Because then we have choice to be effective and generative in the world.
So let’s go in either direction from our actualized Persephone.[responding to an image of Isis] What a beautiful image. That’s the High Priestess to me. I think of the High Priestess as Isis, as the Queen of the Underworld.
But let’s go back in either direction. When Persephone is able to accomplish her task of choice — actualization, individuation, generation, as opposed to withholding — her mother not only gets to have her company again, which is what she was craving and sorrowing, but she also has to learn the lesson that, “I have to let Persephone go.”
RDL | “I have to have my own life.”
GSB | Relinquishment.
RDL | Yes.
GSB | Likewise Hades, who’s possessive and wants this woman to be regenerative and healthful to him, has to go to the place where he has to relinquish her for part of the year. And, let’s be frank: on either hand, Persephone is relinquishing both of them for the sake of self-possession. What’s crucial about this to me in this moment is that all three parties must — all three of these figures — become parties to this choice. Hades made a choice to abduct Persephone. Demeter made a choice to hold on to Persephone. Kore made a choice to — Queen Persephone, as distinct from Dark Persephone — made a choice to be compassionate and generative to all of them. And that creates a new dispensation, new terms, in which all parties have to relinquish attachment and become self-possessed, and in so doing achieve a true or radical intimacy.
As a note about this regenerative element, I ponder this as a significance of Kore, the child of flowers, visiting and maturing within the underworld: her regeneration of the underworld and thus her regeneration of souls. In other words, we move from an image of eternal wandering — retained in Christianity, for example, as eternal damnation — into a sense of redemption, of emergence, of soul-tempering and preparing either for return to earth, presumably, or to ascend to heaven. That is, salvation as process not as dispensation. And we move into death carrying the seed of our own future disposition.
RDL | So the myth can actually become a gateway to the transition, past matriarchy, out of patriarchy, and into integration.
GSB | This is precisely where we’ve been headed with this: ostensibly a state of child differentiating from mother, of wife differentiating from husband, of woman actualizing herself. But if “woman” is soul, or animating principle, then this is about human soul differentiating and actualizing itself from its original and progressed state — as it were, its adolescent state — into self-determination, self-possession, and, crucially, self-responsibility. Or self-destruction. This is the moment in which we find humanity. And yet this myth is the starting point of a cycle of individuation that I’ve explored as moving from Persephone to Eurydice to Psyche, and to which you suggested the addition of Ariadne.
As I say, this is precisely where we’ve been headed with this. From the moment you started talking about them as holding the house together. We understand that the reason Hades abducted Persephone — the reason patriarchy subsumed the feminine, the soul — was to create this chain of progression where we can be conscious of our movement forward, not just in a perpetual ouroboric state.
But we’ve lost the fact that there’s a purpose to that samsaric cyclicity. And the wedding of Hades and Persephone is the key to the means where we do not have patriarchy, we do not try to “return” to a matriarchy. But we in fact instill — Do I have to say it? Dare I say it? You say it.
RDL | [laughing] HumAnarchy.
GSB | Oh, my god! Which is the significance of all the souls in the underworld: they’re not men; they’re not women. They’re souls. They’re humans.
And that’s why Orpheus relinquishes Eurydice. Not because he can’t stand it. Not because he needs to possess her and can’t. Not because she’s a ghost and not good enough. Because she’s a soul. She’s moved beyond, and he can’t drag her back into dayworld existence. And that’s why Orpheus moves from a simple Dionysian shaman, ouroboric — “This phenomenal existence is great!” — into praising the sun, which represents the movement, the metered movement, through the cycle.
So, you see, Orpheus is integrative. Him exalting Apollo is not an act of repudiation of Dionysus, It’s an act of pulling Dionysus from the shadows into the sun so that they’re integrated now: lunar and solar. The high Priestess’ Boaz and Jachin.
RDL | Right. Right. Oh, my gosh.
GSB | Well, Rebekah, we have a lot of work to do, but may I suggest to you that we just drafted that Persephone article we were contemplating?
RDL | We totally just did.