Persephone is one of the most important goddesses in ancient Greco-Roman mythology. Her story is a timeless tale that has been retold many times over. It’s about love, it’s about death, and it’s also about what happens when we are out of balance with who we really are.
Whether you believe in the Greek gods and goddesses or simply pull inspiration from the stories, you can definitely learn a lot from Persephone.
The goddess Persephone is ultra popular today, mainly because of her love story (or abduction story, depending on the telling) with Hades. However, she really is a marvel all on her own.
It’s funny, because in Ancient Greece, Hades and Persephone were rarely worshipped. If Persephone was worshiped, it was only because springtime comes when she is returned to her mother.
The Ancient Greeks feared the darkness of the Underworld, so they mostly stayed away from Hades and Persephone. Today, we have a very different outlook. Many of us are actually entranced by the story.
I personally feel that Persephone is hugely popular for a reason! In many ways, her story is a metaphor that applies to us in so many different ways. Many of us today struggle with similar issues as Persephone, which I hope will become clear to you as you read this post.
The Goddess Persephone In History & Myth:
Before we dive into the more detailed stuff on Persephone, I’ll give a brief overview of the myth that casts her as a main character so you know exactly who she is.
In Greek mythology, Persephone was the daughter of Demeter, the goddess of grain and fertility, and Zeus, conceived before Zeus married Hera.
Persephone lived a happy, idyllic childhood according to most myths. She played with her siblings (Athena and Aphrodite) and was beloved by her mother.
However, in Persephone’s teenage years, things changed. One day, Persephone was in a meadow picking narcissus flowers, when the earth quite literally opened up and Hades came through to kidnap her.
According to many myths, Zeus actually made a bargain with his brother Hades and coordinated this kidnapping.
Demeter, Persephone’s mother, was devastated. She searched the earth for her daughter and came up empty handed, she found out what Zeus had done. She then made the earth barren (as Demeter is the goddess of the harvest) and the land grew dark and cold while the crops died. Winter became perpetual.
Meanwhile, Persephone was down in the Underworld with Hades, married to become the Queen of the Dead and eating the six infamous pomegranate seeds. Though Hermes eventually came to get her per Zeus’ order, she was unable to leave because she had consumed the food of the dead.
After much negotiation, Demeter and Hades struck a bargain: Persephone would spend 6 months of the year above ground with her mother, and 6 months of the year in the Underworld with Hades. Thus, the tale of the seasons is born.
It sounds like a pretty bleak story. After all, rape and kidnappings were common in Ancient Greek culture and were sometimes a way to acquire a bride. It’s clear from the ancient retellings that Persephone’s feelings and thoughts on the matter don’t mean a thing.
However, is that really the truth? There are so many versions of the Hades and Persephone story that it’s hard to tell.
In some versions, Persephone chooses to eat the pomegranates to stay because she has fallen in love with her husband. Other stories indicate that she wants to stay to escape her mother and simply sees Hades as the best option.
Persephone is a character of dualities in more ways than one. She symbolizes both springing (new growth) and death. She is perpetually torn between her mother and husband with little say for herself.
One image of Persephone shows her as a young maiden, enjoying the sunshine and her mother’s love, singing and playing and picking flowers. However, another very different image depicts Persephone as the Queen of the Underworld, the Mistress of Curses, a skilled ruler, a stern judge, and even a rival to Aphrodite for her beauty.
As you can see, it’s hard to pin down exactly who Persephone is. I guess that’s some of her allure; we all want to tackle that shadow side without losing our intrinsic goodness. Persephone is both powerful and naive, and she is clearly loved by Hades.
In the academic world, there is a lot of debate over the idea of Persephone being raped by Hades. Some see the term (based on translations) as a way to describe his manipulation of her, while others think that the word is more literal.
The strange thing is that other than his abduction of Persephone, Hades has a pretty immaculate record. He stays in the Underworld where he was sent, ruling over the dead with a strict but fair hand. Unlike his brothers who rape, murder, and beat their way through the countryside, Hades engages in virtually no forceful activities.
So the question is: did Persephone want to go with Hades? If she was kidnapped, did she want to stay once she fell in love with him? Does Persephone love Hades, or is she a perpetual prisoner?
I have debated these questions for some time. It wasn’t until I started working with the goddess Persephone that I really got some answers, but it’s important that you remain skeptical so you can get your own.
Ultimately, I feel that Hades and Persephone do have a strong sense of love between them, albeit a strange relationship. After all, this is one of the only relationships where they are equals.
Persephone is made Queen of the Dead with equal domain and rules alongside Hades. She is much more than just a trinket that he collected. Even in the oldest myths, Persephone is shown to make massive decisions without any interference from Hades.
Hades is also one of the only faithful husbands in Greek mythology, though Persephone was supposedly enraged by his former lovers from before their marriage. To me, that says that there’s at least something there. Plus, I love the idea of them ruling as equals. The fidelity and equality in their relationship is truly unmatched in Greek myth.
So, How Does Persephone’s Myth Apply To You?
The goddess Persephone is relevant in so many ways, even today when the world looks quite different.
First of all, the duality that resides within the myth of Persephone is extremely important. In so many ways, Persephone struggles to balance herself.
She is perpetually torn between her mother and her husband, her decisions made for her by other people. That isn’t to say that Persephone doesn’t stick up for herself, but I imagine that she struggled in the beginning of her story. After all, she hadn’t found her voice.
The story of the goddess Persephone can remind us not to lose ourselves, even if we’re trying to please others or are being controlled by people in our lives.
Both Hades and Demeter truly love Persephone in most versions of the myth, but that doesn’t mean that she wasn’t stifled.
Persephone had to learn how to stand up for herself within the boundaries constructed for her. While she never breaks free from her 6 month rotations, perhaps she doesn’t want to. Maybe she instead finds a way to retain her contact with her family and keep her marriage, all while asserting herself as she comes to do over time.
It’s clear that the goddess Persephone quickly grows from a child to an adult. Though she is lovely as a teenager, she turns into a truly beautiful woman who knows how to wield her power in many different ways.
Yet Persephone doesn’t lose her childlike innocence, either. It’s easy to imagine that, come springtime, she will be back in the meadow, singing and picking flowers.
Persephone learns how to embrace her shadow side (the part of herself who sternly rules over the spirits of the dead) without rejecting her innocent, childlike self. Clearly, her myth is a wonderful lesson about how to integrate your shadow self without overhauling your life.
Overall, Persephone is a goddess of transition. She shows you how to find your truest inner self even when things are changing at a rapid pace, but never expects you to leave your old self behind.
Persephone also show you that power comes from within. Even if you feel like outside forces are controlling you, the thoughts in your head are always your own. She manages to retain her power through her kidnapping and in fact becomes incredibly influential in Greek myth.
The goddess Persephone is usually depicted as a young woman, but she appears in many forms.
Persephone is often shown as a beautiful young maiden with fair skin. Her face epitomizes youthful beauty and she is seen in long flowing clothing. Usually, her head is adorned by flowers or waist-length tresses that flow behind it like some sort of crown.
However, the goddess Persephone also has her darker appearance when she is ruling as Queen of the Underworld. This appearance is harder to come by, since the idea is that the Greeks rarely saw the Queen of the Dead until they actually passed. Typically, she is wearing a role and a crown (of darker coloring) and is seated at Hades side, a gorgeous yet stern Queen.
Persephone can be found in the Underworld during winter months or on Earth during spring and summer. She’s also sometimes shown traveling between Hades’ kingdom of the dead and her mother Demeter’s home on Olympus.
Persephone’s very presence on earth makes the flowers bloom because Demeter sets aside her mourning. However, this isn’t really Persephone’s power, though she is able to turn the seasons at her will.
Ancient Greeks believed that Persephone specifically ruled over flowers during the summer months, while her mother held her spot as the goddess of the harvest.
The goddess Persephone has dominion over spirits of the dead as well, since Hades also rules over the Underworld. In fact, her powers in the Underworld are quite substantial as Hades makes her his equal, unlike Hera on Olympus.
Persephone has the ability to judge the dead and to decide their fates. She also has many servants of the dead (both good and bad) at her disposal.
How Do You Know If The Goddess Persephone Is Calling To You?
Although you can theoretically call upon a deity with extensive amounts of worship, deities often reach out to us when they want to work with us.
The Goddess Persephone tends to reach out in very subtle ways. It can be difficult to determine if she’s the goddess reaching out to you, but there are specific tells.
You’ll want to make sure that you’ve had a few interactions or signs from Persephone before you decide that she’s definitely calling to you.
Some of the indicators that the Goddess Persephone is reaching out to you include:
1. You develop a taste for pomegranates. If you have been really into pomegranates or pomegranate flavoring of any kind, this can be a sign. You can also see pomegranate symbols popping up and recognize this as a message from Persephone.
2. You love learning about Persephone. If her name or story strikes something in your heart, this can be a very obvious sign. You may also love the High Priestess tarot card or anything to do with the Underworld.
3. She reaches out to you in your dreams or on the astral plane. You may not actually know that the woman in your dream is Persephone, but you’ll be able to infer this based on the way she is dressed, the symbols she presents, the place she shows you, etc.
4. Her name/story comes up an unusual amount of times. If you keep hearing about Persephone in different ways then she’s probably sending you a more obvious signal that she would like to work together.
5. You have similar control struggles. If you can’t get control over your own life or feel like you’re always being pulled in two different directions (such as by Demeter and Hades), then this can be a sign that Persephone wants to work with you in order to help you find your inner power.
However, you can definitely reach out to Persephone if you don’t see these signs and want to work with her! I have found that she is super receptive to many different people. However, you must be prepared to put in the work and do some worship before she actually connects with you. Scroll down to check out the offering and worship ideas.
How To Work With Persephone:
If you want to do deity work, it is important you understand the basics. This includes warding and cleansing rituals as well as banishing exercises for when things get out of hand or trickster spirits appear in your area.
Both are common occurrences among beginners who don’t have these skills yet! In fact, in can take quite a while to actually make contact with any specific deity.
Of course, you can definitely worship Persephone without causing any harm, but if you want to actively work with her and form a relationship, then you should definitely learn some defensive magic in case other entities break through.
What You’ll Learn From Working With Persephone:
When you work with the goddess Persephone, you can learn to overcome a lot.
Persephone can help you set boundaries in your life. If you feel that you’re controlled by others and want to please other people or that you have no say over your own life, she will help you remedy that.
Her methods can be difficult. She may burn your world down in order for you to see the truth, but in my experience, she always knows what the truth is. In fact, everything she does is for your highest good, because you shouldn’t ever live a lie.
Persephone can easily understand trauma and loss, as well as grief, pain, anguish, and issues with the shadow self, including mental illness. She is the Queen of the Underworld for a reason!
If you struggle in these areas, she can certainly help you dig yourself out, but you’ll have to be an active participant and put the work in. Deities won’t just tell you what to do, but instead will force you into situations that feel incredibly uncomfortable yet help you grow.
The goddess Persephone isn’t all doom and gloom, though. Her entire life is a cycle, so she understands that there are “down” periods and “up” periods. In my experience, she values both equally. She can be helpful when you need things to change and are trying to see a better future.
Persephone is a great deity to work with if you’re interested in shadow work. In fact, she is one of the only goddesses in Greek mythology who has successfully incorporated both parts of herself without losing either.
When you work with Persephone, you learn to become comfortable with the uncomfortable. There is no running and hiding from your inner demons around her, so be ready to do the most painful work of your life. You will come out on the other side better and stronger than you ever have been, so to me it’s worth it! It’s essential to step out of your comfort zone for growth, just like Persephone did.
Most importantly, Persephone will teach you to take back your power. Unlike Lilith, she isn’t abrasive about this. Persephone doesn’t go on a warpath or expect you to dedicate your life to social justice if you have a job in a different field.
Instead, she will show you how to find your power within yourself, regardless of who is around you. Hers is a quiet power, the sort that is deftly exuded around Hades and Demeter, but it certainly exists.
When I first met Persephone, I was overwhelmed by how strong her energy is. She’s far from the sweet, quiet maiden depicted in Greek myth. She actually reminded me of a really severe teacher from school, though she was gorgeous, young, and a bit dark.
The thing is, Persephone didn’t always have this power. She had to find it in herself – no one could give it to her. Sure, Hades offered her equal share of his domain, and her mother always has her back because of love, but her strongest, truest power comes from within.
Persephone was able to maintain relationships with both her mother and Hades, but over time, these relationships shifted. They became more equal and she became less of a pawn.
If you have similar issues in your life, Persephone can certainly help you learn how to take back your personal power. It might be painful, but it could also be the most important thing you do.
The goddess Persephone will show you that you can’t lose yourself because you are always there, under the surface, even when you choose to hide your true self. She is known as a dark goddess for a reason: she will reveal your truest self, even if the process is painful, in order to help you live an authentic life.
My Experience Working With Persephone:
My experience is solely my own. You may experience Persephone somewhat differently, because the way that she appears and speaks to you will be based on your own personal relationship with her.
However, I am definitely willing to share what I have found while I’ve been in contact with Persephone.
First of all, my introduction to Persephone was scary. After hearing her name over and over and being obsessed with her myth for years, I decided to leave her an offering of incense and wine. I quite literally felt as though I went to trance and took this as a sign that the offering worked. I also drew her sigil and placed it under my pillow.
That night, I had the worst nightmares about all sorts of hell-like demons that I would not come up with in my wildest dreams. The scariest part was that I felt like they were really in my room, because when I opened my eyes, the figures were still there, moving around in shadow form.
Obviously, I opened up the doors to the Underworld by placing her sigil under my pillow in the middle of the winter. However, I was later excited by this because it meant that I had really contacted her!
I have become much less fearful since then. In fact, I actually love the idea of the Underworld and feel that many of the beings are misunderstood, just as we are here.
In the time I have worked with Persephone, I have found that she loves Hades and all Hades-related things. Sometimes, he will show up in my dreams, but most often Persephone just likes references to him or offerings that I love for the both of them.
The goddess Persephone is both kind and strict. She can be really stern and scary, especially when you don’t listen to her, and she doesn’t like to tell you anything twice. She has a serious backbone! However, she’s also kind and even a bit motherly. She really does want to help you grow and change.
Persephone is much more direct than other deities. When she wants to tell you something, she doesn’t beat around the bush. Her words are often very literal.
She is just as direct when it comes to boundaries. Persephone will respect your boundaries with extreme caution as long as you respect hers. It takes time to earn her trust.
I’ve found that Persephone likes music and flowers as well as all things springtime, though she has a dark side as well (and sometimes enjoys darker music flowers). She also likes chocolate and mint. Anything that’s a little dark and twisty with a sweet side will be right up her alley.
In the Tarot deck, I think that Persephone is represented by the High Priestess, though she sometimes appears as the Queens in the deck, too.
I love celebrating Persephone during the changing of the seasons. At Beltane, Persephone is emerging from the Underworld, bringing us spring. During Mabon, she is retreating to the Underworld to become the Queen of the Dead, a mysterious creature who is dark and stern. Both pagan holidays are great times to make offerings to Persephone or celebrate in her honor!
If you choose to work with Persephone, keep in mind that you’re opening yourself up to the Underworld. You may have some dark, scary experiences, but Persephone herself isn’t dark. You may also encounter Hades, but I’ve found him to be quite kind and quiet.
Offerings To Persephone:
Obviously, you should make any offerings that feel right to you. However, I’ve compiled a list of popular offerings to Persephone based on her likes and her associations.
- Pomegranate juice or wine
- Pomegranate seeds
- Pomegranate candies
- Honey infused wine
- Floral tea
- Flower/herb infused water
- Breads, grains, cakes, sweets, cookies, etc.
- Dark chocolate
- Sweet fruits
- Flower crowns
- Flower arrangements
- Potted plants
- Floral scented incense
- Almond, vanilla, bergamot, or pomegranate scented incense
- Purple, magenta, indigo, green, red, or black candles
- Statues/paintings of bats, rams, or deer
- Spring flowers
- Wild flowers
- Fake flowers
- Crushed mint
- Small animal bones
- Fake or animal skulls
- Toy coffins
- Floral scented perfumes
- Almond, vanilla, bergamot, or pomegranate scented perfumes
- Gems such as crystal, quartz, agate, black onyx, pink tourmaline, obsidian, coral, or jasper
- Plush toys of bats, rams, and deer
Devotional Acts For Persephone:
- Tend to a garden or keep a plant
- Learn herbalism
- Learn about flowers
- Make food with edible flowers
- Use flowers in your bath
- Place flowers around your home
- Make a playlist of songs that remind you of Persephone
- Meditate outside
- Go on nature walks
- Clean up nature trails
- Smell the flowers
- Celebrate Persephone at Beltane
- Celebrate Persephone at Mabon
- Honor the dead
- Visit/clean up graveyards
- Donate to those who can’t afford a funeral service
- Honor the fae and work with them
- Honor Hades
- Honor Demeter
- Create an altar to Persephone
- Devotional prayers (written by the Greeks or by yourself)
- Purchase a new Tarot deck that reminds you of Persephone for your readings with her
How To Know If You’ve Encountered A Trickster Spirit:
Sometimes, trickster spirits or entities will try to present as a deity in order to take advantage of you. You’re most likely working with a spirit who is pretending to be Persephone if:
You Are Easily Drained Of Energy
Working with Persephone has been a fascinating experience, mainly because she never takes energy away from me. In fact, I often feel energized after working with the goddess Persephone.
Of course, if you’re drained after an intense spell, don’t immediately attribute this to a trickster spirit. Instead, an entity will slowly drain you throughout the day when you think you have Persephone around. You know your own body and you’ll know if something is up.
She Tries To Stop You From Broadening Your Practice
Though Persephone may want to restrict you in some ways (maybe she tells you she doesn’t like a certain offering, for example) she won’t try to stop you from worshipping other deities or looking into various modalities.
She also won’t tell you not to meditate or astral travel. If anything, Persephone is likely to say that you’re on your own when it comes to that stuff.
She Doesn’t Respect Your Boundaries
Because of her upbringing, I have found that boundaries are huge to Persephone. She’ll set hers and she will definitely respect yours.
If she keeps popping in when you’ve asked her to stop, then you’re probably not truly working with Persephone.
She Doesn’t Have A Consistent Vibe
If the energy feels different each time you work with Persephone or her personality and characteristics change, then you know 100% that you’re working with a trickster spirit.
Persephone has a lot of duality in her (death/life, winter/summer), but she’s also very stern and consistent. She won’t turn from an intense, uptight woman into a giggly girl overnight.
To make sure you’re really working with Persephone, set clear boundaries and ask her to follow them. You can also engage in conversation about her story and myth and she’s usually quite happy to answer questions.
More Reading To Learn About Persephone:
Queen of the Sacred Way: A Devotional Anthology in Honor of Persephone: This book covers the various myths and a lot of history. It’s a great introduction that may have more in-depth information than I could fit in this blog post.
Persephone Unveiled: Seeing the Goddess and Freeing Your Soul: This book is a great self-help guide that also has a lot of information about the myth of Persephone.
Invoke the Goddess: Connecting to the Hindu, Greek and Egyptian Deities: If you’re interested in actively working with Persephone or other deities then this is a good place to start.
Persephone Rising: Awakening the Heroine Within: If you’re interested in the Persephone archetype then this book will be useful to you. It shows how the story of Persephone may parallel your own life and is mostly a self-help guide.