Photo credit: Return of Persephone, Wikipedia Commons

A man dreamed of finding an intricate old key. The key in the lock is a familiar symbol and often associated with the mystery in the cave and the divine birth. (CW 18 par 266)

The Eleusinian Mysteries developed from the Greek myth of Demeter and Persephone. In this myth, Persephone, the lovely young daughter of Demeter, was abducted by Hades, Lord of the Underworld, whilst picking flowers. Her enraged mother Demeter, Earth Mother, caused much suffering by causing droughts and famine, whilst roaming the earth, seeking her daughter. Finally, her pleas were responded to and Persephone was re-united with her mother, but on the condition that she spent a part of each year underground in the realm of Hades. Each time that she returns, she brings about renewal, and the birth of the divine child. The child is seen to belong to both mother and maid, a product of uniting upper and lower worlds.

In the much older myth of Inanna and Ereshkigal, Inanna, heavenly queen of Sumer influenced by the reality of living in this world, must undertake the journey to her dark underground sister, terrifying Ereshkigal, to rejuvenate the relationship to her archetypal foundation, thereby restoring the imbalance.

Both these myths are thought to be a dramatization of the death, or phases, of the moon. Baring and Cashford describe an ancient Lunar Myth of loss, searching and finding, of Demeter’s or Inanna’s quest for the lost part of herself:

It follows the course of the moon after the full, when it wanders across the heavens in search of its vanishing light until the darkness seizes it completely and it is gone. The new moon that returns after three days is then the light that the old moon has found, so that the moon has been restored to itself.”

Baring and Cashford quoting Joseph Campbell, The myth of the goddess, p. 385

‘Mother and daughter’ are two aspects of the feminine principle, the moon horns of waxing and seeking, or waning and withdrawing, inner opposites forever in conflict. The seeking and withdrawing patterns are two relational patterns found in all of us, men and women alike, one pattern always preferred above the other. (Dougherty and West, The matrix and meaning of character structure) A conscious descent into one’s own depths is needed to restore this imbalance caused by our natural one-sidedness. This manifests as wanting to be too close on the one hand, or too distant and abstract on the other.

Our lives go through seasons of summer, autumn, winter and spring again. Like the seasons, it is a circular, alternating process of withdrawal and loss, seeking and returning; of death and birth, the mystery of life.

Image credit: Return of Persephone, Wikipedia Commons