47 | Persephone and Demeter

In Greek mythology there is the story of maiden goddess Persephone and her encounter with the god of the Underworld, Hades.  Persephone is the daughter of Zeus and Demeter.  Demeter is the goddess of the harvest, of agriculture, nourishment and fertility.  Hades falls in love with Persephone from afar and convinces Zeus to let him abduct Persephone and take her to the Underworld. When he does, Demeter becomes so grief stricken at the disappearance of her daughter that she refuses to attend to her obligations to maintain agricultural activity and its output and the world begins to starve.

Finally, Zeus intervenes and brokers a deal between Hades and Demeter wherein Persephone becomes the Queen of the Underworld but must spend 6 months of the year on the Earth with Demeter.  This facilitates the emergence of the seasons, with Spring and Summer as the time when Persephone is with Demeter and thusly enabling the growth and abundance in the natural world of that part of the year, and Fall and Winter as the time when Persephone is with Hades, when Demeter’s anxiety provokes the decay and fallowness of the natural world.

It strikes me that we alcoholics and druggies might see ourselves in the person of Hades in this story…and perhaps Demeter as an Al-anon.  Hades gets the wild idea that he has to have Persephone and nothing will stop him from having her, even against her will.  He has taken her hostage, an event so much like how we alcoholics are prone to taking hostages in our pursuit of relationships.  Demeter is so distraught being the victim of an alcoholic’s raging and bad behavior that she shirks her responsibilities and makes everyone else pay for her pain.

An acceptable solution to the conflict, to the chaos of both of their behaviors, can only be achieved with the intervention of a Higher Power who convinces them that the solution is in their accepting the reality of what has happened and sharing the outcome.  For us it is the connection with our own Higher Power and in working the Steps of AA and Al-Anon to gain a state sufficient to allow for a life of growth and regeneration.

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