John Dyer Baizley – “Persephone”

The ancient Greeks spoke among themselves about the immense happiness of one girl. She was the daughter of Demeter, protector mother of the wheat fields and the goddess of fertility, and Zeus, the supreme god and ruler of Olympus. Her name was Cora, and goddess mother Demeter was so attached to her that the whole earth was drawing its strength and fertility from this love. The world, therefore, enjoyed the splendour of everything. Cora grew happily alongside her mother and other goddesses, until Hades, the master and god of the underworld, fell in love with her. One day Cora walked through the meadows picking flowers. And just when she saw a beautiful flower on the cliff, the moment she got closer to pick it up, hot and bitter smell of sulfur spread all over the place. Suddenly, Hades stepped from the chasm, kidnapped Cora and disappeared with her in the underground empire with the speed of his black carriages. In vain Demeter sought her beloved daughter. Desperate, she turned to Helios, hoping that he would show her where she disappeared since he saw everything. When Helios told her the truth, Demeter frowned and left Olympus, disguising himself as an old woman and neglected all her duties. The land began to wither because Demeter forbade it to yield any more crops. Finally, Zeus ordered Hades to return Demeter his daughter, telling him that the gods and people would fall because of this, and he gave assurance to Demeter that Cora would return to her if she did not taste the grain from the Tree of the Lower World. Hades unwillingly agreed to return Cora to the Upper World, but before that, cunning as he was, he made her eat one grain of pomegranate. When she finally returned to the world of the living, Cora enjoyed all the benefits from the earth, but soon she received an overwhelming desire for the underground kingdom. That one grain was enough to tie her forever to the underworld. From that moment, she was known as Persephone. Then an agreement was signed with Hades that Persephone would be three months with her husband in the Lower World, and nine months in the Upper Kingdom, the world of the living, with her mother, Demeter. And so Persephone, Hades Queen, was torn apart between two loves. The love of her mother and the love of her husband, love for the earth and love for the underworld. Love for the living and love for the dead. Since then, the earth has never been the same, it would forever go through the change of seasons, and all who live on earth will have to adapt to that eternal change. Persephone had no children with Hades, and by another myth, before going to the underworld, she gave birth to Dionysus with the Zeus himself.

What is so crucial about Persephone, which is the matter of our discussion in this holy place? Is it the love of her mother and the dependence of all the living things, the affection of everything that breathes and gives birth towards her, or that she is the goddess of the underworld kingdom, the ruler of the dark world who was often together with Hecate? With utter confidence, we say none of it, but rather one small detail, that grain of pomegranate planted in her. Although surrounded by the immense love of her mother Demeter and the whole earth, which so depended on her stay in the Upper Realm, she nevertheless felt an urge, an unbearable instinct to return to the underworld. This grain of pomegranate which she involuntarily tasted, that idea that was thievishly implanted in her, which was inserted into her mind, made all this love, all that care from her mother and all living things irrelevant and unseen. She felt the urge to go down into the darkness, and no one, even Zeus himself could have banished this urge. That seed that was once embedded in Persephone became Persephone herself, equally her free will as her fate.

This urge is the A∴A∴. Persephone is none other than the Probationer; his Oath is Cora’s grain of pomegranate. Even knowing the consequences of all this, it would not prevent Cora from tasting the fruit which would permanently tie her to the dark, distant kingdom so far away from home and her mother. Persephone is, therefore, the personification of inner nature, which is, just like an underworld seed, pursuing and banishing against ratio and all the forces of normality. This is an urge for transcendental death, as well as for life in that death, this urge more than anything in this world is moving that same world. Indeed Persephone is a Probationer; the tasted seed is his devoted Oath. Once taken, it will perform such extraordinary, wonderful things. And now it is only a matter of time before he will awake in the City of the Pyramids, for there is no longer a single god or a star that can divert his unbearable urge, his authentic path.

Sense and call of nature. She could not stay with Demeter. Demeter is her personal, sensual nature that resides in Malkuth, which is hiding so lovely under the lee of Binah. This nature is merely longing to be called and carried by outer influences. In the form of the external sun, which is believed to glow and send light only for us and nobody else. Persephone turned against this yearning and returned to the depths of the earth. She did what ultimately every being would do in the moment of a great transition. And instead of turning around the Sun, she turned to herself for the first time. She wished farewell to the earth and Demeter’s sweet calls and delivered herself from the circles of wandering. For just in one short moment, that path would be dark and misty. By turning to the inner darkness, the Self soon enters the scene of the dazzling light, into the landscape painted by the true Sun. Demeter is by no means an aspect of light, she is an illusion of light, and turning back to her shows only one thing; that we chose to pursue the path of the most horrible destiny, that we take the road which is not meant to be taken. To turn ourselves inward, ceasing to look at the stars, but to settle our nature into stellar space, where it belongs to. And finally applying the motto whose destiny is worse than death: “know thyself.”

Persephone is the personification of a Probationer. But in its true light, she signifies a Neophyte, with his earthly nature, driven by the earthly, primordial urge. She neither can nor has the right to do anything but what is her Will. Her freedom is hiding precisely in the fact that she wants nothing but that. Her nature is not her choice; on the contrary, it is a complex mechanism of the intersection of all external influences as well as internal, for she is only the resultant of all forces acting through her being. Her will is anything but hers, her identity is no other than from Nuit. Despite all resistance of Mother Earth and her lower nature, she would still do what her Will is and nothing else.

Demeter will, however, expose her influence later, which will be particularly expressed through the Grade of the Neophyte, when the weight of Binah will be almost unbearable. For Demeter is first loving and dear Mother and the beauty of all the worlds, but soon she becomes the cruel queen blackmailing and threatening of unthinkable sufferings if we do not return to our earlier habits. These early habits are real only for Demeter; her love is nothing else than the Ego complex, the tics and spasm of our nature when we look at the everlasting starry sky, as we recognize our true home in that gathering of stellar strays. Yes, in the gathering of stellar strays. What is the A∴A∴? Is that tiny grain also part of Persephone’s fate and therefore part of her nature? Is that grain something distinct from her, can we concur that Persephone has gained her urge by external influence, without her will and decision? Or both that grain and Persephone herself are just parts of one larger entity, one greater mechanism, and consciousness?

The beauty of Persephone’s transformation, from the point of the A∴A∴, is reflected in the relation between her change and her nature. For she does not want a change, yet in the same way she does not regret it. She is a part of that change, and without her, that change would never come to life in the Universe. From the moment of taking the Oath of a Probationer, each event retains the same power that it had earlier, now richer for one new element. An element of pure love, a trigger that has no match anywhere in our Work, which sadly everyone returns to only when we are left out of other options. But Persephone secretly knows that what she wants and what she does not want, and what she is and what she will be is the one same thing. Whether she resides in the underworld with her husband Hades or on the surface with her mother Demeter, she loves and understands all of them in the same way. And that all is the A∴A∴.

Frater 273

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