Thursday, September 22, 2016

Haides and Persephone ~ A Match Made In The Underworld

By request, this post is about Haides and Persephone. A friend of mine asked for this in the past, but I didn't think it was something I could really elaborate on and explain. However, when I was recently in a local antique shop in Galena, IL, I came across a statue of Haides and Persephone that caught my eye, and I later came to realize it was time for me to talk about it. I also find it fitting since autumn is here, and Demeter will soon begin to withdraw because of Persephone's descent into the realm of Haides (the Underworld). But I also want to talk about what we can learn from the marriage of these two Gods for the benefit of our own relationships. 

We should first begin by discussing how Haides and Persephone came to be husband and wife. For a long time, many people have interpreted the myth as one of abduction and rape, but this is not the case. Zeus, Father of the Gods and of Persephone personally, granted Her to Haides. In ancient times, it was completely customary for fathers to arrange marriages for their daughters, and no historian ever accused every man in the country of rape or kidnapping. They merely regard it as a custom. In fact, in some depictions, Persephone is shown happy with the God of the Underworld. Of course, Her Mother, Demeter, was not informed of the union and disapproved with a vengeance. She decided to remove Her presence from the world, bringing cold weather and death to all plant life, until Persephone was returned.

Zeus realized that Demeter would have to be honored in some way for the sake of existence on Earth, and so He persuaded Haides to allow Persephone to return to Her Mother for 6 months out of the year. In short, She would spend half the year with Haides and the other half with Demeter. All parties agreed. However, for the time that She is away, Demeter still to this day allows Her heartache to be known, and we call this time autumn and winter, when life retreats and dies. However, it is most certainly a beautiful death with the turning of the trees and the pleasant weather. Even the absence of Demeter is graced with wonder, for everything of the Gods is wonderful. The Gods are so beautiful that nothing touched by them could ever be ugly, not even death. Even if they touch something only to sentence it to an end, their beauty shines. But perhaps that's a philosophy for another time. When Persephone returns, so does Demeter, and spring and summer graces us once more.

There are important things we can learn from the Gods. In this case, Haides and Persephone. I would say that the greatest moral to be learned from their marriage is simply that letting your spouse or significant other have their space is extremely important for a healthy relationship. Each year, both Haides and Persephone grant that to one another. No matter how much we love our wife, husband, girlfriend or boyfriend, sometimes we just need time to ourselves. We don't want a relationship where we feel stuck or trapped, because that will lead to unhappiness and confrontation. In short, chaos, and the Gods are about order and balance. I know this is certainly the case in my own marriage. There are times when I just want to leave the house alone and go visit my favorite places, or go home to visit my family. And when that time is over, I am more than ready to go back to my wife. Space, love, compassion, respect and honor; these are the values of the union that holds together the marriage of Haides and Persephone.

In the Goodness of The Dodekatheon,

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