The reclamation required in an examination of the story of Demeter and her daughter, Persephone, must be conducted on both the material and metaphoric realms in order for its message to be fully comprehended. This is the story first and foremost of the intense love and devotion of a mother for her daughter. It is also, however, one of the first examples of how the patriarchy takes a distinctly feminine narrative and alters it, not just for its own immediate benefit, but to shape all future narratives in service of that patriarchal agenda. Like the asphalt and carpets that have buried the once vibrant heart of natural and holistic civilizations, the stories of ourselves have also been painted over with foreign words. They have been left as dry, truncated husks – empty tomes whose only purpose is to serve the needs of political, social, economic and religious institutions bent on exercising authority and power over others.
The need here is to pull up the rugs, open the closets, air out and reclaim these narratives. They are stories of love, passion and the deep desires of individuals to serve the good of the whole. They were not written down at all – they were not etched into stultifying, leather-bound encyclopedias. They were, rather, engaged in and played out within the rich and unpredictable terrain between the bookends of thousands of years of living. They are stories of blood and birth, of harvest and cornucopias, of reverence and duty to that which is, indeed, incomprehensible to the human mind, the divine intelligence which infuses all things with life. The focus of those intertwining and intersecting epochs, eras, and communal and singular lives were centered upon the subtle and brilliant movements between the once-fluid masculine and feminine energetics, guided by the wisdom of the goddess.
Ancient Taoists understood why the goddess element was meant to serve as the organizing element in any endeavor, as is found in their prime directive, symbolized by the ancient tai chi yin/yang primordial circle with two polarized dots and regions : “remember the yang (masculine), but stick to the yin (feminine).” This means that it is important to remember when the use of pointed, structured interventions (yang) are necessary in traversing life, but to know that the essential foundations of that life are found in the yielding, watery realms of the yielding yin. Humanity has, over the eons, reversed that principle and we are now living the consequences of disobeying it. In
In Part I of Demeter’s Love, I introduced a number of elements to the reader. They are threads which will be picked up, worked into a fabric and woven together again. That, in and of itself, is a reversal of the singular masculine, left-brain activity of constructing a linear narrative and sticking to it. We all know our high school education, which stressed and trained us in the superiority of, and adherence to, the expository essay. The linear drill goes like this: first, make your statement, then provide all supporting evidence to prove that statement, then make one’s concluding statements. All wrapped up in a neat package. That is, indeed, a true reflection of the left brain view of the world. It works, however, for only one half of the brain. Unfortunately, the creative yin does not obey those rules of verbal and written expression. This is exactly why her part of the symbology is depicted as black – it is difficult to perceive her hidden wisdoms and it requires the cultivation of our impressionistic visionary abilities to follow her.
Yin meanders and wanders through the structures of life. She traverses the sandy shallows of creeks and arroyos, picks her way through the stones of steep escarpments and weaves through the doorways and coattails of the shops and people who move along the avenues of modern cities. She always colors outside the lines. She moves and creates meaning as she goes along, ever-responsive to the changing needs of the contexts within which she finds herself. She is, indeed, of water, fluid and adaptable. She is also of land, supple as the snake in traversing varied landscapes.
These are realms which the now stultified and immobile yang does not understand. She is the wave form of light; she is “the tiger” of which Einstein knew he’d grasped the tail, but understood he would never comprehend the whole of. The science of his mind was inspired by the wisdom of that intangible feminine element. The now overly structured world which we inhabit despises the improvisational, unpredictable, serendipitous realm of the feminine, much to the detriment of our potential for integrated, human brilliance. And a great deal of effort has been expended in order to destroy, demean and control that elemental. It is important to remember, however, in freeing ourselves from the prisons so precisely built and mortared by limited hands, that, just because you do not understand something does not mean it is pathological. Unable to see into the dark, that is exactly what the male brain has attempted to do with the right side of their brains, so well-embodied by the female. The stones and walls that have been built are, in fact, a direct reflection of the inabilities and limiting fears of the minds that built them.
Toward an Integrated Narrative
Stepping outside those gates is a necessary act if humanity is to become whole again. One of the first writers to do so was Mary Catherine Bateson (daughter of the anthropologist, Margaret Mead, and Gregory Bateson, the man responsible for the conception and study of cybernetics). As the offspring of two creative scientists and possessed of her own high intelligence, she was able to translate the journey of the yin through life in a wonderful book, Composing a Life, which I came upon in the late 1980’s. In it, she conceptualizes a completely different framework for understanding the notion of “achievement” by uncovering the meandering lives of five now famous women in leadership roles. None of these women obeyed the linear career trajectories so valued by our hierarchical system of order and instead followed a riverine experience undertaken within richly woven personal and professional lives. They all eventually came to serve in positions of great responsibility and authority. Another courageously disobedient person I found 10 years later is woman named Sobonfu Some’. Many people are more familiar with her husband, Malidoma Some’, who was chosen by his spiritual elders in Burkina Faso to come to the United States and share the ancient spiritual understanding of his African people with us. Sobonfu, herself recognized by those same elders from birth as a keeper of tradition ritual, began writing, albeit reluctantly, at the urgings of her husband. In the introduction to her first book, The Spirit of Intimacy: Ancient African Teachings in the Ways of Relationships, she openly discusses the fact that in order to write she had to relieve herself of the burden of having to write in the conventional, western format of linear narration. Her prose is beautifully succinct, short and descriptive of the deep longings of humanity for spiritual relationship with each other and her own experience, which illuminates and overcomes the great divide between people. They are individual, brief stories told by a woman who deeply understands the hidden meanings that bind them together. She trusts the reader’s own wisdom to find the threads of connection flowing within and through all of them.
Restoring the 2nd House to the Sacred Realm
The 2nd house is truly the house of our first and most important treasures. They are not just the material things we are given as vulnerable infants and awakening toddlers that literally form the building blocks of our lives; they are also the legacies and traditions our biological and spiritual kin have left for us – the firm ethical and moral motherland upon which our developing child places the blocks and legos which will later turn into homes and skills and education and meaningful vocations. The legos are the divine, structured yang, the binding stories held within the bowl of our great grandmother’s teacup are the divine yin that gives all structure meaning. This really isn’t very difficult to understand, we just need to take our noses out of the immediate and step back and view the constant. Both need to be held upon the scales of life experience (this should be a major contributing gift of those born under the sign of Libra, which isn’t about “justice” issuing from masculine institutions, but rather, from the spiritual balance that is ever-present in all of our choices – but that is a different essay).
Men (material) primarily build buildings and bridges and tables and such. Women (spiritual) provide the living, breathing worlds that take place within and upon them. And I do not mean guys are guys and girls are girls. The point is that we are all spiritually designed for, and are quite capable of, crossing over the artificially induced male/female gender roles within which we are currently required to operate (though history provides ample examples that women are far more able and adept in these crossings than men). In every choice we make and every action we take as individuals, we can consciously become aware of the interplay between the masculine elements and the feminine elements at work and know which we are choosing to express (or the subtle and varied combinations thereof) at any given time and the reflective reasons why we have made such choices. This requires flexibility and adaptability to the world around us and our responses to that world. It requires a revitalization of the holy marriage between these masculine and feminine elements within each of us. That activity is both inspiring and fun and serious and disciplined. Genitalia have nothing to do with the issue. That would be, of course, taking responsibility for ourselves and the materials and spiritual elements of which we are made and to which we answer in the end. It remains to be seen whether humanity has the maturity and wisdom to take this aspect of ourselves firmly within our own hands and enact it wisely. In order for astrology to finally get with the program, it, just like the social/cultural constructs in which it is undertaken, needs to enunciate and hold holy the contributing polarities of each element that combine and dance with each other to form the whole of a meaningful chart and a fulfilled life. So far, it has failed to do so.
Most settle for caricature over character. At the moment, our collective narrative continues to obey the old patriarchal rules that the major players (planets) are guys and the minor players (asteroids and such) are the cheerleading girls. It would behoove the entire profession to actually go back and review each of the planetary influences and tease out the male and female elementals of each one, which are very obvious if one takes the time. Neptune is the most strikingly ridiculous example of this outdated model of perceptual patriarchy at work. The ruler of the deep, emotional, inchoate and mysterious depths of human emotion, psyche and soul is clearly not some gargantuan man holding a trident rising from the deep. The medium of water is held in the heart of the feminine. And yet, most astrologer’s simply and superficially hold to the arcane male imagery because they are taught to do so by a long line of teachers who seem incapable of exercising contemplative awareness and logical imagination. A starting place is to imagine the different aspects of water: sometimes it is a rushing, roaring waterfall, at others it is the still pond from which many wild and domestic animals drink. Find and spend time with the varied expressions of this elemental and where and when it expresses itself in a more masculine form and when in a more feminine form. Write about every possible expression of water in great detail; approach them with the poet’s heart. Listen, touch, smell and describe them with resolute precision.
The next evolution in this exercise would be to observe the transitions between water’s different states of being. Take the water fall, for example, and look at from a larger perspective. Where does the more calm, yin flow of the river that feeds it begin to quicken and transform itself into the more narrow and forceful yang element? After plunging into the body of water below, where does the forceful, yang element dissolve, disorganize and re-organize itself into quiet flow again? These are the exercises that allow an individual access to the dynamically rich, metaphoric and esoteric realms of nuance and sensuality that are the inherent and missing aspects of our relationship with each other and the divine elements. They also define the difference between a two-dimensional astrological chart reader and a gifted interpreter of the tidal influences that ebb and flow throughout a chart over the course of an individual’s lifetime.
The treasures of the second house, in their fullness, are both the things and the meanings which our ancestors regularly celebrated and gave offerings to and thanks for – an act that requires true mastery of humbleness, humility and the realization that that which we receive in this lifetime has been entrusted to us. These gifts have been entrusted to us both by our physical ancestors and by the divine mother herself. Those who lived long before us understood that the power of their lives was completely dependent upon those gifts of nature, dependent upon the magical, mysterious transformation bestowed upon them within the secret temples of their mothers’ very wombs. What they chose to do with those gifts gave them the empowerment of their own life story.
The masculine provides the seed, the feminine the transformational powers from which life issues forth. Without the grace of the earth, water (blood) and spirit of the Mother, the simple seed withers and dies. Nothing of beauty, value and wholeness comes to fruition without her blessing. It was with and through her blessings that our ancestors survived and thrived, and they treated that understanding with respect and reverence.
Those who dwell outside of the current western framework of imbalanced yang, defined by domination and control, still know feminine wisdom, despite modern man’s furious and violent attempts at denial and annihilation of this truth. Any reading of the planets and influences of the second house (and a chart in general) must begin to come from a much broader and more inclusive conceptual framework than the set-default one currently in use, which relies on the greek and roman patriarchal conventions of story telling. As Sobonfu Some’ and others with similar intelligent integrative faculties point out, this failure has left us all telling incomplete stories and with a deep longing for the true richness of narratives we have the power and potential to cultivate in our lives, with each other.
Reclaiming Divine Love
Yes, love does encompass justified rage, contrary to popular belief. So also does it encompass the definitive and succinct word, “NO.” The rage of Demeter in the face of her daughter’s kidnap and rape at the hands of Hades is our current metaphor for the consequences of our own rape and abuse of resources of our planet earth. The fruit of the pomegranate, bestowed by the graces of the goddess of fertility is turned to poison by the man who secures her daughter’s bondage. That is exactly what has occurred in our larger human story. The fact that our current turmoil of earthquakes, droughts, heated violence and explosive eruptions appears to be sudden and incomprehensible to the minds of so many is a reflection not just of our own myopia regarding consequences of actions undertaken over millenia, but is also the result of the now obviously misplaced patience of the divine feminine. She has, indeed, waited far long enough for the children to awaken and begin to undertake more adult forms of commerce and communication.
And we have failed at our task, despite the on-going nurturance and abiding presence of the Mother. Of course I am well aware that external influences upon our planet (solar flares, incoming asteroids, etc) play a part in our current environment. However, the question here at hand is: why now? Why has the perfect storm of elementals and influences arisen now, in our communal consciousness? As within, so without.
We call to ourselves that which will bestow upon us the lessons we need on our path of enlightenment from within. The cosmic and earthly mother, like Demeter, has finally stood up as the warrior that she is. Our children’s lives are at stake and, as any person out in the woods who has inadvertently gotten between a mother bear and her cub, the consequences of disregarding that bond can be fatal. Unless, of course, the offending party realizes the error of their ways, regardless of how innocently they were originally undertaken, and moves out of the line of contact between Mother and her cub.
Humanity, unfortunately, has chosen the path of continuing along the precipitous line of fire, has deliberately and unconsciously continued to break the avenue of communication and protection between mother and her blood. Deaf to the warning signs of nature that signal very clearly, “No,” we stumble along stupidly. We all know what happens next: that grizzly rises up on her hind feet in order to fully survey the situation before beginning her death charge. This is the heart of Demeter, who has given the wayward hiker all reasonable chances to correct an erroneous path. Once she starts her run, however, she will not turn back and the entire fate of the hiker now lies outside of his hands.
Unlike the natural world, women have been trained over generations – through religious, social, cultural, political and economic avenues of the patriarchy – to believe that “love” is in acquiescing to powers she has been told are superior to her own. She has lost her natural heart – the heart of the fierce protectrix. We have been corralled into believing that the symbol of Mother Theresa or the now-grotesquely caricatured and cartoonish figure of Florence Nightingale – working tirelessly, endlessly, selflessly and (preferably) celibately, for the “good/god” of all others – is our only lot in life. Unless, of course, we are servicing the needs of men as whores. We have substituted servitude for service, poverty for passion, niceness for power. Our value lies in our ability to give without remuneration or recognition and to smile silently and obediently at our handlers. Unfortunately, the truth is that Mother Theresa was extremely depressed throughout her life and Florence Nightingale was, in reality, an amazingly strong, take charge woman who advocated not the stale, dark, sick rooms of patriarchal hospitals, but, rather, fresh air, exercise and the great outdoors as the keys to health and healing.
Persephone was kidnapped from her sensuous, delight-filled explorations of the infinite creations of her Mother, dragged down into a dank underworld, and held against her will until she acquiesced to the diseased mind of Hades. She refused to do so, much to the chagrin of her obsessed keeper. Demeter summons the power of her rage at this profaning of her daughter’s innocence and of the beauty of the world. She closes the flow of her spiritual womb and the earth dries and withers in the wake of her deprivation. And this is as it should be. In light of the desecration that caused this state of affairs, the deliberate action of the hand of a man, it is only right that the sacred is withheld. We do not argue the need for this when the Church closes its doors in the face of a desecration, only to open them again once the space has been made holy again through ritual and ceremony. Yet we seem to apply different rules to the temple of nature and the priestesses that tend these realms. Humanity has desecrated the very ground upon which we stand, pissed and ejaculated on the altar, shredded the robes and broken the vessels within the sacristy of our sacred earth.
And we wonder now why the doors of our sanctuary are being closed before us? They will not open for a very long time and, if the cyclical and rhythmic rule of wave forms apply, the re-consecration of the planet shall last for the same period sequence as its desecration over time. The application of sine and cosine mathematical equations governing frequencies and amplitudes should leave us approximately 2500 to 5000 years in a state of declination. Think of it as the great cleansing. Small brains who only live within the concept of now (the two-year old level), are going to have a very uncomfortable time understanding the concept of “then” and “when.”
When we have realized the full extent of what we have done – recognized and fully felt the travesties we have wrought – then we will begin on the path of making ourselves worthy of the gift of trusteeship again. We have blown it big time here and, given the breadth and depth of globalized dementia at the moment, our restoration to health will take some very seriously long spiritual rehabilitation to achieve. The Hopi described this period of time very bluntly: “humanity shall crawl upon the face of the earth like animals, without heads.” That makes sense to me – we haven’t figured out how to use the common sense and brilliant mind the divine creator gave us, so, why let us keep those useless heads? It is actually a far more truthful, and therefore respectful, imagery than the one offered by the church, which participates in the same “kick the can down the road” mentality that our politicians and financial wizards use.
There is no Second Coming. There is no deus ex machina that is going to descend from on high to save our sorry selves. Such notions are the stuff of children, waiting for the parent to rescue us from our immature doings. Except, however, we were supposed to have entered adulthood long ago. Such notions are stories created by those in positions of power to ensure that those they lead never, ever find their way to self empowerment, never grow up and leave the nest, never take the power of self-determination and responsibility into their own hands.
Those authorities and their flocks of sheep should remember the words of their Jesus: “All that I can do, so can you . . . And more.” Those words, twisted and warped by cartoon power figures over centuries into something the original man is now turning in his grave over, convey the singular understanding that every one of us has the power within our own hands to make the profane sacred again, to re-consecrate what we have desecrated. Waiting for someone else to do it for us just is not in the cards.
The truth is that The Second Coming happens every moment, every day of our lives, through every generation. The face of the savior we have so long sought is to be found first in our own mirror. It is the simple ability to take in the small agonies and ecstasies of our lives and, with the same heart stopping freshness as a newly stricken adolescent, to still fall in love with the very fact of just being alive. Over and over again. Throughout our limited time here. Not because of someone or something else, but just because we have been created by the divine and given the experience of experiencing the vast wonders of the world of her creation.
That experience unfolds over time within and through our mundane activities. There is no singular “moment of enlightenment,” despite the claims of false gurus who love to tell of their own and then posture and parade upon stale pedestals in front of clapping audiences. No. The only aspect or enlightenment we can depend upon is our own unique and personal ability of continually returning to and renewing a relationship with a state of awareness and ecstasy that expands and deepens within us over a lifetime. It is the ability to commit the ultimate act of love – to stand utterly alone in front of our personal mirror, consider and regard our intimately private self – and, without any hesitation or withholding whatsoever, to say out loud to that reflection, “I love you.” That is the feeling any true mother would want all of her children to have for themselves. It is the kind of love to which we must summon ourselves to ourselves and for ourselves and each other every single day. Love and enlightenment are acts of patience and endurance – the acts themselves revive the spirit that inspires them.
When we have realized that spark of divine spiritual love in the reflection of ourselves and, more importantly, in deeper reflection of ourselves in relationship to each other and this sacred vessel we call earth, which is one of the physical manifestations of the Mother Womb, we will begin to realize the difference between religion and spirituality. We begin to see the divine in each other. The goddess isn’t somewhere out there in a book or on a tarot card; she is the woman sitting at the head of our table, inside our own homes. The messiah isn’t a character in a dusty old book or a figure frozen in posture in a window, either. He/She dwells within the bodies, hearts and minds of all of our children.
The love of Demeter is the powerful, mothering aspect of the creator and protector of all sacred things. Her daughter, Persephone, is the embodiment of the beauty and innocence of the feminine aspect. The core of the story is that it is right and correct that we all rise up in anger over her desecration. Only then may we have any slim chance of avoiding our Hopi fate. I am not talking about a mental idea. I am talking about real actions that demonstrate that enough is enough, now. Now. Right now.
Process as Spiritual Enlightenment
In order for our full restoration to occur, we have to undo another part of the story, which is found in the process of the decision making around the denouement here. So, Demeter is angry at the wrong done to her daughter. But, who is it that actually makes the decision around a “just” conclusion? Zeus (male) and Hades (male). They are brothers, no less, an original allusion to “the old boys club” where loyalty to each other outweighs the ability to discern right from wrong.
The sycophantic brothers here conjure up a plan so that Hades can carry on his demented activities at least for one half of the year. These are sociopathic kin striking deals with each other under which the rest of us must suffer. To capitulate to a sociopath is a sociopathic action. And, yet, we are all expected to swallow this (just like Persephone was forced to swallow the pomegranate seed) as a correct and natural idea. It is not, yet this is exactly how male authority has dispensed its laws from the time they wrote them down. Nowhere is there any mention of Demeter’s input into a just end to the story. Yet no one questions this glaring absence, this denial of access to decision-making power, this refusal of the feminine voice in our legal, social, political and economic constructs. We do need to demand that the voice of the sacred feminine (I do not mean girls who parrot patriarchal patterns), hold sway at the table. The alternative is to let the boys and their stories kill us all.
In addition to the artificial and implanted “men make the decisions and girls do as their told” idea in the Demeter story, the boys take it a step further and decide to place an even more ridiculous spin on the story. We are told that Persephone’s forced time of half the year in Hades’ version of a dirty boy’s bathroom, is the reason why we have Winter. This should inspire loud guffaws, and it is surprising to me that it doesn’t. First, if one does the math, Winter is only a 3 month period of time, so the half-year thing doesn’t exactly work. Second, every season has been unfolding on this planet for billions of years, with and without human presence. These seasons belong to the never-ending cycle of birth and death that belong to the realm of the Mother and the cosmos, not to the hand of man. It seems we are asked to suspend all logic so that males can continue to cast themselves at the center of all stories and the creators of nature. They are not. Narrative is a very powerful tool and here it has been used, as it is throughout our current culture, to attempt to usurp and control the power of the feminine.
And that, of course, is the story that is coming to an end. A new beginning, a new cycle, a new story is longing to be told. And we do, collectively, have the power to write/right it.
Creation is a Circle
Our earth, all the planets in our solar system and all the solar systems in our universe revolve around the sacred shape of the ovum, the only biological entity which can take unto itself the raw materials of fertility and transform them into the fullness of the human (and all other fauna) form. The ovum allows the seed to enter into that temple of transformation. Force is not an appropriate element of divine conception. The encircling womb holds the seed within the ovum and is the only vessel within which the union between these masculine and feminine aspects, as well as the human form in its unique entirety, can be realized.
No amount of forced intercourse, no amount of demented attempts at restructuring our DNA, no amount of cloning, of penetration of our food and bodies with nanoparticles, nor pretensions to the possession of the immortality gene, will ever change the laws of nature. They are so, with or without us. Our perfection is bestowed upon us by the intangible love of the cosmos. Our only task is to hold and honor it with the intelligent wisdom and reverence it deserves. These qualities, these very human qualities, must be summoned quickly, immediately and with conscious haste. Otherwise, it will be with great sorrow that we look upon the entire lifetime of humanity as a great loss and waste.
As above, so below. As within, so without.