Do you remember the myth of Persephone?
Persephone was walking on a hillside with her friends when she came across the most beautiful flower. She was captivated by its bloom and its sweet smell, she paused to be with it, her heart full of joy.
The flower was a narcissus, grown by the Goddess Gaia, at the request of her son Hades, who was in love with Persephone.
As Persephone paused to smell its sweet blooms, the earth opened in front of her and Hades, God of the Underworld, swept up through the chasm in his golden chariot.
He abducted Persephone and returned with her to his home in the roots of the earth.
Persephone’s mother was a Goddess named Demeter. She reigned over growing things and delivered the earth’s bounty. Demeter searched for Persephone but she was not to be found.
So Demeter wept, her tears salting the earth, til nothing grew and the bleakness of winter rolled in.
The Gods on Olympus became concerned. And Hades was called to task and told to return Persephone.
But Persephone had broken a cardinal rule: she had eaten the fruits of the Underworld.
A compromise was reached: Persephone would spend half the year with her mother and half the year with Hades in the Underworld.
When Persephone is with Demeter the world is green but when she descends to the Underworld, the green world dies and we slide into winter.
There is so much to learn about our own nature from the myth of Persephone’s descent.
Persephone became entranced by a narcissus, from the same root as narcissist. In other words she became entranced with herself. The descent into the Underworld was a descent into her own being, her own soul. And because of the compromise struck between Hades and Demeter, this was a journey that Persephone would take cyclically, every year.
We are in the time of the descent. The plants are sending their energy down, into their roots, and we too are sending our energy down, into the core of our being.
It is a time of self-reflection and sometimes sadness as we mourn, like Demeter, the loss of summer.
Our culture has forgotten what the Greek’s knew of cycles of seasonal sadness. In today’s America we ask ourselves to be steady and stable and not give in to the descent. We call it depression.
From a seasonal point of view, it is appropriate to descend at this time of year. It becomes a problem only if you don’t also rise as the energy of the sun returns (or, of course, if you are more than just a bit down and are considering doing harm to yourself or others). Allow yourself space to ease down into winter.
Some of us respond more strongly to this season’s lack of light than others, which can make the descent a rocky and uncomfortable journey.
The plant world has comfort to offer:
- Try a combination of Lemon Balm and St. John’s Wort* to ward off winter blues.
* St. John’s wort will interact with SSRIs so be mindful if you are on anti-depressants or seizure meds.
- Be sure you are also getting enough Vitamin D (found in Cod Liver Oil) to supplement what you don’t get from the sun in the winter.
Your doctor can do a blood test for you if you want to know your Vitamin D levels. Vitamin D’s co-factor (what you need for proper
assimilation) is Vitamin A. Both are in Cod Liver oil but if you are taking your D in another form, be sure to get your A as well.
- A full-spectrum light can also help to ward of the winter blahs. Be sure to keep it where you will use it often (like on your desk).