Persephone, Hecate & the Crone, the journey of the girl to the woman

As a female, I was often disappointed as a child that most stories had a male lead. My favourite fairy tale was beauty and the beast, which shaped my future and unfortunately, proved to be just that – a fairy tale, the beast didn’t turn into a prince and I was inconsolable (Just Kidding). However, the moral of the story for me was – you have to love YOUR own beast, the part of our personality we all try to hide, we all have a shadow/bad side, and self control is the key to overcoming the dual natured challenge of being human, and yes, your shadow can be controlled.

Jung sought his inspirations from ancient mythology, and here I found the perfect myth, that encompasses the whole of the life span from maiden to wise woman, with each level offering a different challenge. Persephone, Hecate and the Crone are three aspects of who and what we are, as a woman and the journey our lives take, from immaturity to maturity, because all three of these goddesses, also have a darker, shadow side to their persona too. Making them the perfect role models, for young girls to leant from.

Hecate is a goddess in ancient Greek religion and mythology, often shown holding a pair of torches or a key and in later periods depicted in triple form. She was variously associated with crossroads, borders, city walls, doorways, and, by extension, entrance-ways, light, magic, witchcraft, knowledge of herbs and poisonous plants, ghosts, necromancy, and sorcery. With those invisible realms outside or beyond the world of the living.

The Greek goddess Hecate was the only one of the Titans who Zeus allowed to retain authority once the Olympians had defeated them. Her main role appears to have been associated with being ‘between’ worlds and characterized as a ‘liminal’ goddess. Hecate mediated between regimes—Olympian and Titan—but also between the mortal and divine spheres.

She was worshiped in Athenian households as a protective goddess and one who bestowed prosperity and daily blessings on the family and was regarded with (some) rulership over earth, sea, and sky, as well as a more universal role as Saviour.

Mother of Angels and the Cosmic World Soul.

Hecate was represented as three-formed, or with three heads or as in Egyptian texts, three animals; one dog, one serpent, and one horse. Which is speculated as being connected with the appearance of the full moon, half moon, and new moon.

As a virgin goddess, she remained unmarried and had no regular consort, though some traditions named her as the Mother of Scylla.

The story of Persephone, the sweet daughter of goddess Demeter who was kidnapped by Hades and later became the Queen of the Underworld, is known all over the world. It is actually how the ancient Greeks explain the change of the seasons, the eternal cycle of the Nature’s death and rebirth. Persephone is understood in people’s mind as a naïve little girl who flows between the protection of the mother and the love of her husband- Hades.

Persephone, was the daughter of Zeus and Demeter, the goddess of harvest and fertility. Attracting the attention of many gods. However, Demeter had an obsessed love for her only daughter and kept all men away from her. The most persisting suitor of Persephone was Hades, the god of the Underworld. When he asked Demeter to marry her daughter, Demeter got furious and said there wasn’t the slightest chance for that to happen. Hades was heart-broken and decided to get Persephone no matter what.

One day, while the young girl was playing and picking flowers along with her friends in a valley, she beheld the most enchanting narcissus she had ever seen. As she stooped down to pick the flower, the earth beneath her feet suddenly cleaved open and through the gap Hades himself came out on his chariot with black horses. Hades grabbed the lovely maiden before she could scream for help and descended into his underworld kingdom while the gap in the earth closed after them.

Hecate, known for her farsightedness, where she had witnessed the abduction of Persephone and told Persephone’s’ mother what had happened. Later she became a close friend and confidant to the frightened Persephone and helped her adjust to life in the Underworld. Hades – to express his gratitude for her assistance to his young bride, invited Hecate to become a permanent resident in his kingdom and allowed her to come and go as she wished.

Demeter, in grief for the loss of her daughter, decided to take a long and indefinite leave from her duties as the goddess of harvest and fertility, with devastating consequences. The earth began to dry up, harvests failed, plants lost their fruitfulness, animals were dying for lack of food and famine spread to the whole earth, resulting in untold misery.

The cries of the people who were suffering reached Olympus and the divine ears of Zeus. The mighty god finally realized that if he wouldn’t do something about his wife’s wrath, all humanity would disappear. Persephone was allowed to live in the underworld for six months, and during this time, her devoted mother was too heart broken and grieved, she stopped working on fertility and harvests (Autumn and Winter) and during the six months when she had her daughter again, the land was fertile for crops to grow (Spring and Summer)

Dogs were closely associated with Hecate in the Classical world, it has been claimed that her association with dogs is suggestive of her connection with childbirth, for the dog was sacred to Eileithyia, and other birth goddesses.

Closely associated with plant lore and the concoction of medicines and poisons. In particular she was thought to give instruction in these closely related arts. A number of other plants (often poisonous, medicinal and/or psychoactive) are also associated with Hecate.

In later times, when this divinity becomes identified with Persephone, she is supposed to inhabit the lower world as a malignant deity, and henceforward it is the gloomy, awe-inspiring side of her character which alone develops itself.

She now presides over all practices connected with witchcraft and enchantments, haunts sepulchres, and the point where two roads cross, and lonely spots where murders have been committed.

Since Hecate had great influence in the spirit world, appeals were often made to her for assistance in keeping one safe because she was known as a protector of young children, shepherds, and sailors. And she could be counted on to help those who were dying, easing their transition into the Otherworld, and helping them prepare for a return, in their next life.

Hecate is nevertheless recognized for a special type of knowledge and is considered to be the goddess of trivia.

The Crone Goddess or dark mother is the last aspect of the Triple Goddess, together with the Mother and the Maiden she represents part of the circle of life. In today’s society where we worship youth and beauty, and this aspect of the Goddess is the most frightening and misunderstood of the three, as she represents our destruction, decay and death. However, death is part of the cycle.

In some stories, she is disagreeable, malicious, or sinister in manner, often with magical or supernatural associations that can make her either helpful or obstructing. However in her positive aspect she is depicted as a Grandmother, a wise woman, or a midwife. The word Crone is derived from the old word for crown, suggesting wisdom that emanates from the head like a halo.

She embodies the three life levels of the young maiden or wife, the child and then, the wise women.

 

 

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