Asteroid Files: Persephone

Originally posted on Astrogeek’s Skywatch

Helios– Hellraisers, consider this the Prolouge to my Venus in Scorpio post that is forthcoming.

The Astronomy: Well for some reason I can find almost nothing about the Orbit and Compostion of this asteroid, so I’m mostly skipping it. She is a Main belt asteroid that comes to perihelion in mid-Gemini and was discovered in 1895.

The Myth: One day, Persephone (The Goddess of Springtime and the daughter of Demeter, Olympian Earth-Mother Goddess) was frolicking in a field, picking flowers with some nymphs (and in the company of Artemis, Aphrodite and Athene) on a beautiful day as she was wont to do, being a young goddess of Springtime (which apparently was everyday back then). Sounds like a lovely time, right? Well, if you said “Oh yes it does, but its a Greek story so something particularly nasty is about to happen” you would be correct, and thus earn a gold star for the day.

As it happens, Persephone had someone watching her while she was doing all that frolicking. When she stooped down to pick a particularly nice flower that had caught her eye, the earth itself opened up and Hades (Pluto) dragged her down to the Underworld to be his bride. It gets lonely in Hell, you understand. Whats a god to do?

So when Demeter comes by to pick up her daughter after a long day of arduous flower-picking, she finds out that Persephone is missing from Artemis, Aphrodite and Athene and straight-up loses her shit. She immediately goes up to Zeus on Olympos and demands he find her daughter. He tells her that he doesn’t know, she gets fed up and starts off to go find Persephone herself- By walking the length and breadth of the earth. In the meantime, she refuses to let the crops grow and plunges the world into a permanent state of winter (a bit of a shock to those who were used to permanent springtime) and also has lots of adventures.

After about a year (or nine days, depending on which version you’re reading) of this, The Goddess meets Hecate, who tells her that she hears Persephone crying in the Underworld, but She could not see her. So they go to the absolutely fantastic Titan of the Sun, Helios (to steal a line from Starzina, “not that [AstroGeek’s Skywatch] would ever show any bias [to any god in particular], mind you” but if we ever [hypothetically] did, He would be the one that we would show it to.) who happened to see everything. Why they didn’t do this in the first place is beyond me. Anyway, Helios saw it AND knew why it had happened- While Demeter wasn’t looking, her daughter had grown up into a woman, and Demeter was trying to keep her as a girl. Zeus allowed and sanctioned Hades to “abduct” her daughter and make her his queen. He also may or may not have suggested that it was a good match, earning him a backhand from the Earth Goddess.

She was morose for a while after that, and when Tantalus made an offering to the gods of a stew made from his son, Pelops, she accidentally ate the poor kids shoulder (dont worry, he got put back together and he got a shiny new shoulder made from Ivory). After that, she was raped by her brother Poseidon while they were both in horse-shape (isnt Greek Mythology fun, kids?) and leaves Olympos for good.

She wanders again, and does more noteworthy things, including helping to raise two boys named Demophon and Triptolemus. She was a nursemaid to them, and attempted to make Demophon immortal by annointing him with ambrosia, that magical food of the gods, and holding him in a fire every night. It almost worked, but Demophon’s mother walked in on them before she was done, and he died (maybe. There are so many stories, its hard to keep them all straight)- but Demeter was able to teach his brother, Triptolemus, the secrets of agriculture, bringing humanity to a new understanding of nature. Or so the story goes.

About this time, Zeus decides to do something to make his sister happy again. So he goes to Hades to see how everything is going and see what could be done about the situation.  Hades refuses to give Persephone back, but Zeus keeps on trying to wear him down. Now at this point the story gets a little murky; Well, not what happens, that is set in stone. The issue is the motivation.

What happens is this: Zeus storms off back to Olympos and Hermes comes back in his stead. One thing leads to another, and Hades agrees to let Persephone go back Topworld. Before he does though, he prepares a going away banquet for his wife. Persephone eats nothing, because she knows that if she does, she will be trapped there forever. She does sneak a pomegranate to take it with her, however. On her way out of the underworld, by herself, she eats six pomegranate seeds.

On Olympos, Persephone and Demeter are reunited, and the joy is palpable. Its party mode all the way! At least until Hades comes to crash the party. You see, if you, while living, eat in the underworld, you’re stuck there for good. But Hades had already agreed to let Persephone go back, and Zeus couldn’t renege. Demeter wouldn’t allow it anyway. So after what I’m sure involved much fighting and things being thrown, an agreement was reached. 2/3 of the year, Persephone would be with Demeter. The last 1/3 of the year she would be with Hades. In exchange, Demeter would only allow crop growth during the months when Persephone was Topworld, meaning more souls for Hades.

Why She Matters: So what does this mean for us here? Well for starters, she (the asteroid Persephone) is on her way into Scorpio, so we can take that to mean shes about to go back home to her husband. But to figure her out we need to take a closer look. So the question is this- Why did Persephone do it? Did she forget the rule? Was she actually in love with Hades? Did she enjoy the power that comes with being the Queen of the Underworld? Or was she just tired of everyone making decisions for her, and wanted to get out? All we can do is guess, I’m afraid (although my money would be on the latter).

Oh wait, we do have one clue- Persephone was not this Goddess’ original name; That has been lost to time, although there are some who call her Kore (useless to us, it just means maiden), but only before she went to the underworld. It is only after she returns that she is called Persephone, a name that struck such great fear into the hearts of the ancient greeks that they refused to speak it. You see, the name Persephone is a title- It means “She who swallows the darkness” or “lightens” instead of swallows depending on your translator, but I prefer the first one.

For a interpretation, look at her as a part where you feel powerless, where you don’t have control over what is happening to you. But the thing is you do have power- it may not be choices you like, or that are particularly appealing, but that’s life. Also, it may have ties to the “Bad boy” attraction (or playing out that character for us men). Of course, the actual rape element is too prevalent to ignore, and there may be a connection to this in charts of sex abusers and the like. Working with her? You need to claim your power and make your voice heard. Do whatever it takes to protect your right to choose your own course in life. She will help you, but you need to do it yourself.

To find out where she shows up in your chart, go to astro.com, put in your birth details and in the extended options, all the way at the bottom of the next page, there will be a menu of additional objects. Under that is a blank space where you can enter the number 399, for Persephone. Once you have it entered, generate the chart! Where does Persephone affect your life? Let us know in the comments below!

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