Persephone / Proserpina - Goddess of the Underworld
She teaches that crisis can become the impetus for our transformation
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The asteroid Proserpina is named in honor of the goddess of the dead, consort of Pluto; she was known as Persephone to the Greeks.
According to Greek mythology, Persephone, the queen of the Underworld, was the daughter of Zeus and Demeter, the goddess of harvest and fertility. She was also called Kore, which means "maiden" and grew up to be a lovely girl attracting the attention of many Gods.
One day, Persephone was frolicking and picking flowers in the Nysian fields with her girlfriends. She beheld the most enchanting hundred-bloomed narcissus she had ever seen. As she stooped down to pick the flower and inhale its intoxicating scent, the ground cleaved open and Hades emerged on his chariot with black horses to abduct her to the depths of the earth.
This painting by Aachen Raub shows the famous abduction. This is the ‘Help! Help!’ face of womanhood.
If you think about Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, and Miss Elizabeth Bennett, you will see Persephone. She also reminds me of figures like Princess Diana, Britney Spears, and Diana Ross.
As a Goddess, Persephone is an interesting archetype because she seems to have little personality of her own and is largely dependent, either on Hades (planet Pluto) or her mother Demeter (asteroid Ceres). She is a people pleaser. She manifests as an energy of innocence and ignorance that learns a great deal by going through challenges and traveling the underworld. By roaming the great depths with Pluto, she becomes powerful.
Demeter was so brokenhearted by Persephone’s abduction that she made the land barren. If she, goddess of fertility, had to live without her daughter, then humanity would suffer famine in exchange.
In desperation, the people prayed to Zeus to intervene. He ordered Hermes to descend to the Underworld and demand Persephone’s release. Hades agreed, but not before tempting her with a few pomegranate seeds, which she accepted.
Because the pomegranate seeds symbolize sexual consummation, Persephone remained linked to Hades, even after she left the Underworld. This created a tricky stalemate that Zeus and Demeter had to solve. They decreed that each spring, Persephone would ascend from the Underworld and the land would become fruitful until the autumn when she would return to Hades’ subterranean layer. Thus, the world blooms and dies each year and this myth became an allegory for the cycles of death, birth, and renewal — as well as the drama of loss and return.
The main-belt asteroid Proserpina, named after Persephone, was discovered in 1853 by German astronomer R. Luther and has a stony composition.
In your astrology chart by sign and house, Proserpina shows where you experience power retrieval. You begin with no power — and then you become empowered. Like Hades or Pluto, someone or something sweeps you away and you are forced to take your Underworld journey.
For example, in my chart, Proserpina is at 27 degrees of Taurus, the exact degree of my Descendant.
In astrology, the Ascendant represents the physical body and the self. This is the sign and degree that were rising over the eastern horizon when you were born. You may hear people refer to this as your ‘Rising Sign.’
The Descendant always sits opposite the Ascendant, in the 7th house, and it represents ‘the other:’ typically your spouse or romantic partner. I’ve been divorced twice and have struggled with codependency, so the shoe fits here.
Persephone’s journey mimics our own.
We can learn to overcome the childhood wounds which hold us hostage by being brave enough to go deep and excavate the self. Our unconscious contains all the truths we seemingly cannot bear because they contradict the false narratives constructed by the ego. We often only go there when we MUST, when we are forced, or have no other option.
Crisis, then, becomes the impetus for our transformation.
I can’t think of a more perfect moment in our lifetime to visit this concept. Like Persephone, we must go through the darkness to get to the light, and when we make it to the other side, we can become Kings and Queens in our own right.