Queen of the Night

In the night also my heart instructs me. (Psalms 16:7)

Persephone is my name, proud daughter of Demeter and Zeus.  I am called goddess of the underworld by some, but truly I am of two worlds.  As a maiden, I roamed woods and fields by the light of day, and wherever I walked flowers grew.  One day I was gathering blossoms in a distant meadow and stooped to pick the loveliest of all, the sweet narcissus.  Before I could pluck it, the earth opened beneath me, and I was carried into the abyss by dark Hades.  There I would have remained forever, were it not for my mother Demeter, goddess of the harvest, who caused the earth to remain barren until Zeus intervened to bargain for my return. 

By this time I reigned as queen of the nether regions.  I had eaten the fateful pomegranate seeds, the food of the dead, and could no longer turn my back on Hades’ realm.  Each year I must descend for a dark season in the underworld before returning to my mother to sow seeds each spring.  In truth, I had grown accustomed to my place by Hades’ side.  He wrenched me from my former life against my will, but this is the way with all gods.  He did it for love, and in time I loved him in return.       

And so I stand watch on a dark shore, a beacon to wandering souls.  I bid them welcome and offer them pomegranate seeds.  Yet it was I who took pity on brave Orpheus and allowed him to reclaim his wife from the dead.  I aided Heracles in his labors and gave Psyche my beauty potion so that she could be reunited with her husband.  It was also I who welcomed Odysseus when his voyage brought him to the realm of the dead to seek counsel from the seer Teiresias.      

Often I am portrayed with fearful countenance, but this is only the fear of death darkening the imagination of timorous souls.  In truth, you mortals are also of two worlds. Each night you descend to my realm and commune with me in sleep until the time comes to abide with me forever.  If you put aside your fear, you will find I have much to teach.  You may think your dreams speak in riddles, but it is merely your mind that makes a puzzle of what it does not wish to understand.  Learn from me and discover that what I have to bestow is not merely death but also larger life.

© Copyright 2004-2019 by Eric Rennie
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