Restoring Persephone – The Abduction of Creativity (5)

Telling the myth of Persephone and Demeter in relation to the Cycle of Creativity and its abduction is a fantastic metaphor to describe the process of what happens when our creativity dries up.

The process of this tale outlines in its various parts how creativity gets stolen, what happens as a result, and how to restore it. There are three interventions in this version of the tale:

There is Baubo the obscene goddess who stirs Demeter back to life. Along comes Hecate the medial woman, she who strides between the inner and outer worlds and knows the right questions to ask. Finally, it’s the people of Athens who beseech Zeus the ruler of all the Gods and it is this final intervention that gets to Zeus and makes him change his mind. This is where we resume the tale.

When the people go to Zeus and beg him to restore Persephone to Demeter, they tell Zeus that the land is barren, nothing is growing, and they are starving. They are his people, and this is their appeal to him the King of Gods.

The story’s side-line

Now we find out in the tale that Zeus has conspired with Hades. A bit like an old boys club. Zeus allowed Hades to take Persephone. Although, now he is realising, his deal has created a catastrophe. It has made everything stop around the world (sound familiar?). Nothing moves and nothing is growing.

Furthermore, the people of Athens have threatened not to worship him anymore. Zeus changes his mind. He reverses his decision and calls to Hades in the underworld. Hades once again rises up in his chariot and meets with Zeus.

Reversing the Decision

Zeus tells him that he must restore Persephone to Demeter. Hades doesn’t want to do that, because he has made Persephone his Queen. He is in love with her. He was profoundly lonely living in the cold dark depths and desperate for warmth, which Persephone represents. She is a creature of huge generosity and deep instinct. But she sits joylessly on the throne and does not eat, or dance. The joy has left her.

The Finale

The story continues with Zeus commanding that Hades restores her, but because Hades is so distraught at losing Persephone, Zeus strikes another deal. He says, as long as she has not eaten anything in the Underworld, she must be free to return. Hades then makes his own plan and takes a pomegranate. As the chariot rises up to the world of Demeter, he cuts the pomegranate and squeezes the juice into Persephone’s mouth. Although she refuses to open her mouth, 6 pips and some juice manage to pass her lips and she swallows them.


The Search

Persephone is restored and so is the land … but …

Now Zeus can proclaim that Persephone can spend 6 months with her mother and 6 months with her husband in the Underworld (this is a way to describe how the seasons came to be). Persephone finally reaches the upper world in the Chariot, steps down and runs towards her mother. As soon as she steps down from the Chariot, each step behind her turns the grass green in every direction. Likewise, when Demeter runs to her daughter, flowers and seeds appear under her footsteps and when they reunite, the land becomes abundant and fertile again.

The only proviso is that Persephone now spends time with her mother for 6 months of the year and then with Hades for the other 6 months.

In effect, the situation is changed. Persephone has visited the Underworld. She has become a Queen and lives in that place for half the year.

When Change Occurs

In our lives when something like our creativity has been snatched away from us, then we recover it and move on, change has occurred. We are not the same people due to the situation. When change occurs, we may be forced to adapt. Sometimes we get that we need to adapt. Sometimes we are violently called to adapt and change due to circumstances. Whatever has happened, we are never the same.

How we choose to look at the situation, is of course our free will. How we approach the challenge of change depends upon our beliefs and how deeply the situation has impacted us. We may not be able to change immediately. The process of moving in itself may be the exact thing we need to grow spiritually, emotionally and mentally.

The story of Persephone and Demeter teaches us is how to negotiate the change, not just to stop at the search. To go ask someone wiser than us. For our health and sanity, to go and seek help and counsel, then use that advice to pull ourselves back into life.

Discipline as food for the spirit

Discipline as a structure and food to grow creativity, even when it is dull and dreary, to keep the discipline going, to keep the fire stoked, ready for when entropy has completed its part of the creative cycle. You want to be ready for the start of incubation that leads to birth. In other words, creativity doesn’t die, it can only disappear. Once we understand the creative cycle and where we are on it, then we know what to do. Discipline is part of keeping going when all seems lost.

Keeping Life Messy

It’s good not to be perfect. It’s good for the psyche to have a messy corner, drawer. Too perfect means a certain inability to be flexible. Everything has to be in its place and organised. Keeping life messy is a way to allow the creative function to exist and thrive. It is not a logical process. It is not linear and requires its own route and its own expression. We need to learn being creative has messiness in it and that is part of the restoration process.

Allowing yourself to Create

Giving time to be creative. You don’t have to be Picasso, or Judi Dench or Michael Angelo, or Martin Garrix, or Beyonce. No, you just need to bake bread, knit, colour as you wish, slosh paint on inner wallpaper lining, for example. Sing as you want, go for a forest bath. Let your creativity have it’s voice.

These are the crumbs you might say, the signposts along the way. They prompt you do things, maybe different things you would not normally consider, like write poetry. Write poetry you may say? I have never done that. Well I say just do it. It doesn’t have to be perfect.

The act itself is the process of re-igniting your creative life. Those crumbs are the places of re-igniting the creative nature. Like Persephone being restored, those crumbs are the signs you need to see.

Those are the crumbs, much like Hansel and Gretel’s crumbs, that show the way home, back to your full expression.