The Persephone Myth

By | April 4, 2011

PersephoneThere are two listed Asteroids for the Queen of the Underworld. The first main belt asteroid discovered was Roman Proserpina, Asteriod 26 in 1853. Followed by the Greek Persephone, Asteroid 399, discovered in 1895. Because these names were already taken, Eris could not be named Persephone when it was discovered in 2005 despite it being the favourite. I will now look at both the Greek and the Roman version of the Persephone Myth and see if there is a difference between the two.Persephone is the daughter of Zeus and Demeter, she is also known as Kore in modern English. As Kore she is the vegetation goddess. In Greek art she is often portrayed as carrying a sheaf of grain just like the Virgin in Constellation Virgo. So you see already that Persephone symbolism can very easily become part of Ceres’s attributes.

The Greek Myth

In the myth, Persephone is abducted by Hades while she is out picking flowers. A great chasm opens up in the ground and she gets pulled into the Underworld. Demeter then held the earth to ransom, mourning for her kidnapped daughter and caused a great drought. Zeus relented and allowed Persephone to spend half the year with her mother. We get some weird overlappings with the fact that later on Demeter bears another child (by another god) called Ploutos -The Roman version of Pluto. Ploutos means wealth, this is the wealth of the corn that was stored underground. Ploutos is then fused with Hades. The dead, the manure, the fertilizer, which holds the seeds of Kore. Kore is merged with Persephone the Queen of the Underworld and then ascends through the earth as the new plant to reunite with her mother Demeter.

So now things get like an episode of Dynasty. Pluto/Hades is both Demeter’s son-in- law and actual son, this means Pluto/Hades is Persephones half brother. Demeter/Ceres is also Kore meaning Pluto/Hades is bonking both his mother and mother in law… This inter-breeding and inter-changability all just emphasizes the cyclical nature of life and that everything is related. It shows the rite of passage from innocence/virginity to womanhood/wisdom. It also shows yet another version of the triple moon goddess. Ceres/Kore = Virgin, Persephone/Eris = Mother/Whore, Pluto/Ceres = Crone. At it’s simplest level it merely describes the change of seasons.

The Roman Myth

Proserpina comes from the latin Serpere, and means “to crawl forward”. She was also identified with the Serpent, as shown on Italian witches charms by a half moon with a serpent coiled around it. She is the daughter of Ceres and Jupiter. This myth starts with Venus instructing her son Cupid to strike Pluto with one of his love arrows. Again Proserpina is out flower picking, but this time she is specifically in Sicily when Pluto leaps out of the Volcano Etna on four black horses, rapes her and makes her his Queen.

Pluto is her uncle in this version. Ceres stopped the growth of all fruits and cursed Sicily. Like the Greek version, Pluto also made Proserpina eat six pomegranate seeds, one for each month of the year that she would have to stay with him. In some versions she actually steals the seeds of her own accord, presumably she actually wanted this dual life.

Artwork of the Roman version seems to emphasis the “rape” element more. This could be because at this time Christianity was starting to take hold and the old pagan, Goddess worshipping religions were slowly being replaced by monotheism. Myths do tend to reflect the societies from whence they came, so my translation of the “rape” is that it is describing the decimation of the goddess worshipping cultures of northern Europe.

Modern feminists rewriting this myth say the rape did not occur and Proserpina willing went into the underworld to help the dying. I see this supposed “rape” as being used as a ploy so that maidens could empower themselves. In Sicily one way of escaping an overly domineering family, was by eloping with your sweetheart. If you had spent the night with the guy, then you had to marry him as it was assumed that you had been “raped” or had sex. This was a way of preserving the honor of the lady in question. Of course the lady had nothing to do with this, being sweet an innocent as she was…;)

So both versions are more or less the same. They both describe the process of life, death and rebirth. Persephone is one of the few female examples a resurrection deity, as most of them are male. Examples include: Jesus, Khrishna, Dionysus, Osiris, Orpheus and Odin. The only other female example is Inanna or Ishtar which brings us to the original Sumerian version of the Persephone myth,  Innana & Ereshkigal.

For now I would like to look at the differences between the Greek and the Roman versions of Persephone by looking at both discovery charts. I do try to keep things simple and I think if you want to see how the Persephone archetype works in your chart you should first examine the relationship between Ceres, Eris and Pluto. Also Pluto with Venus or Mercury. I have a suspicion that Transpluto could describe the process of becoming whole and enlightened which is really what resurrection is all about.

Persephone

This chart shows a shield aspect pattern which is also being intersected by her mum Ceres. The shield is between Mars, Venus, Jupiter and the Moon. This subject hides behind the shield keeping others at a distance, for Persephone I would say she would be using her mother as a buffer. With this Persephone also tends to accuse and blame others. The outward side of the shield is the Mars/Venus sextile, this is Persephone’s obvious pure beauty and unsoiled sexuality, it also describes her maidenhead. She uses her beauty and perfection as a mask and as protection. Closer to her is Jupiter (her father) and the Moon (her Mother). It is interesting how Ceres (Kore herself) is the apex of both Jupiter and Mars, this to me describes her fertility and abundance.

Persephone’s thinking is obsessive and tends to paranoia. Suspicion is strong with Mercury square Pluto and she finds it hard to trust and surrender. It seems to be describing a kind of frigidness, a girl who does not want to admit to sexual thoughts or own her sexuality. It is far easier to blame the man, say he seduced her, made her do the taboo act. This could also be one who teases and is passive aggressive. The stars on Ceres are revealing in this respect. Acumen is the sting in the Scorpion and Sinistra the right hand of the snake charmer in Ophuichius. The constellation as a whole givesa passionate, blindly good-hearted, wasteful and easily seduced nature, unseen dangers, enmity and slander.” [1]  Well that fits!

Persephone Discovery ChartThe Moon is square Uranus which describes nervousness and volatile emotions. Persephone can feel smothered and restricted by her mother and longs to break free, but at the same time she struggles with true independence. The square like this will provoke shocking external events that will jolt Persephone into enlightenment, hence the abduction from Pluto. The Moon star further emphasises going from one extreme (or one world) to another, Deneb Algedi in Capricorn “It is said to cause beneficence and destructiveness, sorrow and happiness, and life and death” [2].

Even her Sun conjunct Mercury could be showing a split personality. I do like her Sun on Deneb Adige in the Swan, pure white feathers atop a jet black skin. The wise and seasoned Queen of the Underworld lurking beneath her apparent innocence and naivety. In fact shield people can take the life’s hardest knocks and are actually far more resilient than they appear. Interesting that Roman Proserpina in this chart is tightly conjunct Pluto. Showing her where she could be if she let her guard down.

Proserpina

This chart immediately feels far more together than Persephone’s. There is a stronger blue presence and none of the squares. The main aspect pattern is the megaphone, John Lennon had one of these. This pattern makes her very dynamic and as fast as lightening. This person can extract a lot of different types of information and spin it into a yarn that will captivate it’s audience. They are creative and artistic thinkers, spin doctors and manipulators.  This apparently innocent maiden knows just what she is doing and is very focused indeed with a goal in mind. That would be, to become Underworld Queen whatever it takes. It all stems from her father Jupiter and interestingly, again we get Jupiter and Mars featured, the tightest aspects in both charts. So they are Warrior Queens underneath it all.

Proserpina seems much more at home with her sexuality and beauty. Her Sun is conjunct Venus, making her charismatic and the perfect lover and they both sextile Neptune. In Sun sextile Neptune I said they are excitable romantics with a tendency to worship their lover”. Well Pluto would dig that! No wonder she is one of the most popular goddesses as this is a spellbinding, dreamy combo indeed.

Venus on Menkar the Sea monster could be dangerous though, wow, this is good, Menkar on Venus gives “Strong and uncontrolled passions, jealousy, domestic disharmony and temporary separation” [3]  Her Moon conjunct Mercury goes very nicely with the megaphone aspect, a imaginative conversationalist, charm and a sparkling wit. She can talk about her emotions easily. She can be moody, but she is not half as suspicious as her Greek sister.

Proserpina Discovery ChartI think the chart is describing the actual “rape”, I mean it’s just so phallic looking with that point to Jupiter. Even more symbolic is the fact Jupiter is on Aculeus, the stinger of the Scorpion! How’s about that as a description of Pluto’s manhood? Mars the planet of sex is on Al Pherg in Pisces, these fishes are actually saviours since they rescued Venus and her son cupid from drowning while trying to escape the sea monster Typhon. This is a courageous Mars. Robson says this star “gives preparedness, steadiness, determination and final success.” [4] Ceres is opposite Uranus, so this girl has rebelled against her mother. Pluto is opposite Asteroid Proserpina in this chart as opposed to being conjunct her in Persephone’s chart. While Asteroid Persephone is also opposed the Sun. So this is a far more confrontational chart. Roman Prosperina seems much feistier than the simpering, frigid and nervy Greek Persephone

Summary

I’m not saying the Roman version of the myth is better than the Greek, but I do personally prefer Proserpina just from reading the charts. What it seems to be showing here is Asteroid Persephone represents herself before she lost her virginity and Asteroid Prosephina shows her as a fully fledged woman. This also fits with the Lilith story; where Persephone is Eve before she took the bite of the apple and Prosephina is Eve afterwards. The serpent symbolism associated with Proserpina could also be about releasing the Kundalini, the serpent bringing about sexual enlightenment and Lilith wisdom.

I found no significant connections in the charts using Mean Lilith, but using True Lilith, the wilder, untamed Lilith, I found her conjunct Proserpina’s Sun which gives her Lilith’s sexual maturity. Lilith conjunct Sun I wrote “seems to play out as the ego feeling exiled from the dominant patriarchal system. Sometimes this is as a result of actual abuse from male authority figures.” That would be Pluto then. With Persephone however True Lilith is trine Neptune, showing the forbidden fruit she is about to bite and the promise of enlightenment through sex. I found Lilith/Neptune to be tantric.

1,2,3 & 4. Fixed Stars & Constellations in Astrology. Robson p. 54, p.159, p.176, p.134.

Dark Moon > The Persephone Myth

67 thoughts on “The Persephone Myth

  1. damn sexy

    Thanks for posting this story/history/facts about Persephone, the abducted one. oh, I miss studying Greek mythology.

    “Astrology is like any other branch of knowledge. It can be used for good or for ill, properly or improperly, by skilled and unskilled practitioners alike.”

    Reply
  2. Jamie

    Cool, I have asteroid Proserpina conjunct my DC. So my partner is the spicy Sicilian, hot!

    Reply
      1. Marina Post author

        I nearly died when Jamie found Proserpina on his DC. How funny Rob you have it rising!! I love the symmetry with Jamie ;)

        Now from what I have described about her being basically a enlightened Dark Goddess like Lilith and the artistic side comes out stronger in her I think, Trickster energy too, you certainly seem to fit this description, judging by what you write here on the blog. Nice one :)

        Reply
        1. rob

          I think you are being kind there Marina, but, thankyou – it does get more complex; in my chart Proserpina is quincunx Persephone, square BM Lilith and sextile Jupiter, all in the 25º – so, there are two yods, Prosperina and Jupiter pointing to Persephone, and Persephone and Lilith pointing to Jupiter – Prosperina is also square rx Pluto (9th ho) by 2º44′, hard to discount by any means, especially as I have encountered the darkside of Pluto in my journey with esoterics and seen the struggle played out in the lives of close ones too – since Proserpina is conjunct my Asc and midpoint to Lilith opp Pluto I take heart in your optimism around her capabilities – however, your comment about what Prosperina may be letting herself in for if she lets her guard down is also saying something important – the rape theme has been painfully reflected back in women I have known well who have been rape victims, many of whom have been staunch feminists as well, but not men haters, and these are strong women, women who have overcome the trauma and stigma of victimisation and turned their wounds into strengths – and, I sometimes wonder if part of my journey has been to bear witness to the damage and intrinsic dangers of this part of the story – as you know from previous comments one of my partners had her life taken by a shaman, a man who, having been a great healer within in his community, became overwhelmed by his own demons (and perhaps others) outside of it

          I have been a staunch man of the goddess for so many years and it does seem to me that these warrior women are pushing the point with the aspects they make in my chart (Lilith opp Pluto too) – I have an accute sensitivity to that dark side, but, I have figured that you have to get to know the shadow before you can integrate it and integration is not only necessary, but, it has to happen through consciousness, awareness, before it can become dis-armed or teach us how to transform it – its the only route to healing this aspect of our psyche that I know works, and it can no more be done in half measures than it can be ignored – this is, to me anyway, one of the great gifts of the high side of the dark goddesses – fitting that these are warrior queens, as so many of the denied and supressed representatives of the divine feminine in her relationship to the occult are – that you see a resonance with the triple goddess and Moons aspects is wholy fitting too

          I was also struck by the notion that the Roman treatment of this divine feminine energy reflects the supression of her cthonic spirituality – this rings very true, an astute observation, very enlightened Lilith

          you are doing us a great service with these articles and study Marina and, hard as it has sometimes been, I am so very grateful to be witness, especially in these times, as it is time!…..what, I wonder, did I do in previous lifetimes to draw this into my current life – a rhetorical question and, perhaps, best kept for another conversation, tho I do think these archetypes have a lot to do with the dynamics of karma……

          Reply
          1. rob

            I know you love the Elizabethans so something you may find interesting Marina is Persephone and Proserpina in the chart of John Dee, astrologer to Elizabeth 1st (and a lot more as you know) 1527/07/13 4.02pm London UK – he has Proserpina conjunct Sun in 8th ho Cancer and Persephone in 10th ho Virgo square the nodes, sextile the Asc and trine Ceres – curious to me also is that his MC is exact conjunct mine, Asc conjunct mine, his Persephone is conjunct my Jupiter and his vertex is conjunct mine (the latter is very provocative esoterically) – I’ll leave the speculation to you about the personal links, but, what do you think of his Sun Prosperina conjunct?

            Reply
            1. KK

              Coincidence that you mentioned John Dee. I’m almost done reading The Rose Labyrinth by Tatania Hardie. Cool stuff but nothing earth-shattering at your level. I have been working on the puzzle myself but lost thread when I got hooked with Darkstar of late.

            2. Marina Post author

              Rob, I have to do your chart! (Especially as you are now the 3rd member ;) ) I was positive I had done, I don’t know why its not on Solar Fire. I think I was about to punch it in but got distracted. Anyway…
              John Dee and Proserpina, well she is the one associated with serpents and wisdom, and her rescuers were both Mercury and Hecate so with John Dee being a bit of a wizard type it certainly fits.
              Oh wow! The guy has an amazing chart. Lilith conjunct Sun also (06′) tightly opposed Moon. Pluto conjunct Ceres.

            3. Rachel

              funny, but I’ve just been reading Alan Moore’s Promethea and John Dee turns up in that,(and a lot of serpents and wisdom) I’d never heard of him until this week and now he’s everywhere…isn’t Damon Albarn writing an opera about him?
              I’ve got Proserpina smack on my ascendant too, and conjunct sun. Even funnier is she’s quincunx my ceres, which is right on my daughter’s persephone at 6 virgo. kind of a graeco-roman hybrid. I was led to this site just after a stint in London feeling like ceres on the underground dragging my daughter back from a suicide attempt at that gaga new moon and your post on that just totally resonated. Turns out she’s bipolar. Does that not seem like Persephone switching between worlds? I am constantly amazed by what I find here, what you are doing is so important!

            4. rob

              Marina, I sent you my DoB by e-mail again so feel free – Dee’s chart is amazing, has a double yod, involving Proserpina, and I would love to see you do a post for him, esp. him being an astrologer, an Elizabethan and the subject of Mr Albarn’s upcoming opera for the Olympics, as you point out Rachel – since I found out he lived at Mortlake nr Richmond in London, where I had some very happy years with my dearly loved departed one, and that he amassed the largest library in Europe of his time, which I found very interesting as I am surrounded by and have access to many thousands of books daily, I followed the scent – I was astonished at the astro connections

              Dee also has Chiron conjunct Neptune, recalling the conjunct we have just been through, this opp Moon – on May 1st the Moons nodes will conjunct his nodes, so his time may well be coming – I wonder if Damon knows….

              ……Proserpina rising in my own chart has been the witness to Algol on my descendant, perhaps an attractor in there, a difficult placement in partnership which perhaps played out in my partner’s murder, and I have tended to hook up with witchy types, but, feel with Saturn trine Sun+Venus trine Medussa, forming a kite with Medussa opp Chiron, perhaps there are some other good reasons for this – being solo works (safer that way too) and I’m having fun with the witches just now as I currently have BM Lilith trine Moon trine Neptune, and Persephone conjunct Mercury, Proserpina conjunct MC (NN closing) and Medussa conjunct Pluto opp Lilith (kite in there) in my progressed chart (just cast my Solar return at this precise minute) – crumbs!, love those ladies ;) – looks like an excting year! – anyway, as you can imagine, very much looking forward to part 3 of this article!

            5. rob

              Rachel, yes that bipolar connection you have made works out, and a tough Ceres placement for you both, but, the Sabian for 6 Virgo supports development of consciousness which will help your daughter (and of course yourself) favourably

              I am interested in the connection between these archetypes and dispositions of the psyche too, especially in relation to Aspergers and OCDC – readings have shown Sun Uranus conjuncts seem to figure strongly here, but, this seems to become exaggerated in individual charts when there are strong connections to the underworld, as if the switching between the lower and upper planes of consciousness becomes more polarised – thanks for sharing this difficult turn of events, and may you both be blessed with the wisdom and healing of the Goddesses

        2. KK

          Reading through Rob’s comment gets me intrigued about a few strong women I know who voluntarily gave up their innocence so that they can ‘freely’ roam this earth without worrying about having something that they could feel be forcibly taken away from them.

          It’s a tragic transformation when a girl voluntarily gives up her girlish dreams to join the ‘underworld’. Talk about female castration.

          If we fail to honor Proserphine, Lilith would still keep up with us, this time by skipping the opportunity of being the victim to become the aggressor. In my own experience Lilith is best understood if we have explored Proserphine in our psyche.

          Reply
          1. KK

            “…the myth of Proserpina, which could be easily related to the heartbreaking character of Manon, the “prostitute by virtue”.

            Looks like Tsilikat put the exact words clearly. Yes, I do mean voluntary prostitution.

            Reply
  3. Jamie

    Right now, asteroid Persephone is conjunct the fixed star Algol. Isn’t the Head of Medusa the symbol of Sicily?

    Reply
    1. Marina Post author

      I love the Sicilian flag!

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      This one with the wheat.

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      This one with the serpents.

      Reply
      1. rob

        yeh me too – but your gonna know why Marina – the one with the snakes looks like the center of a toroidal vortex which would make Medussa the black/hole at the center – could be related to Etna, home of Typhon, the ‘father of all monsters’, who had a hundred serpents heads according to Hesiod – and volcanoes are earth’s plasma emitting vortexes

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