The persephone experience - and birth of the divine child
Written by listed counsellor/psychotherapist: John Colverson MA, UKCP Jungian analyst, psychotherapist, clinical supervisor.
4th January, 20140 Comments
The Winter equinox has a profound psychological significance for all of us, a the celebration of the return of light to the world has ancient origins, and is reflected in the mythologies from around the world. Feeling like Persephone who was abducted, dragged down into the underworld, and violated is a metaphor most of us can recognise from our experience to a greater or lesser degree.The ‘winter’ her abduction created may also feel like a familiar experience.
Coming out of those depths brings the approach of spring, with the promise of growth and new life. An identification with those depths and a sense of deadness can keep you stuck in a perpetual winter… this might feel appropriate, a known place, and a strangely safer option than the changes involved in coming out of those depths. But if this is the option that seems most attractive, you might ask yourself what are the judgements you are heaping upon yourself that makes you feel staying in these depths is so desirable.
That is not to say there is no value in these depths. In the myth of Eros and Psyche, one of Aphrodite’s tests/punishments is to send Psyche into the underworld to fetch some beauty ointment from Persephone: there is beauty in depth, but it is hard won, and a painful accomplishment. Visiting these depths is part of our natural development, but it is only of value if we can become conscious of the insights we have won. Conversely trying hard to stay on the surface, avoiding compassion for your own suffering, or that of those around you, can result in a defensively shallow personality with an accompanying experience of anxiety.
Dawning of the light brings with it the birth of the divine child - which is a theme not exclusive to Christianity. The divine child is an archetypal dimension regarding the spiritual dimension of our personality - which is born out of the darkness and travail in our lives. This realisation that there is a dimension to who we are beyond what we commonly allow ourselves is cause for great celebration.
If you are struggling to recognise what new life you might give birth to, if you feel stuck in old patterns, then the return of longer days and more light is the ideal opportunity to develop more consciousness and shift from whatever has been holding you back.
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