Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Is this Paradise? A Lesson from Persephone

During a particularly "connected" week some years ago, I found myself rather unexpectedly guided to the topic of Persephone.
It happened one day while listening to classical music on the radio in my old world at work as a computer scientist (a world that seems very distant to me now!). A rather ominous and jarring piece came on announced as The Persephone Suite, breaking my concentration. In that moment, I was strongly "nudged" to stop immediately what I was doing and look the piece up on Google, though rarely did I diverge from the detail of my work.
My search immediately led to Persephone herself, someone whose basic history was familiar to me through a cursory knowledge of Greek mythology, traditionally known as the Queen of the Underworld.
Often paradoxical in her portrayal, Persephone symbolizes cycles of destruction and rebirth, emblematic of awakening, and directly associated with the intensely mystical experiences of the Eleusinian Mysteries, highly appropriate for my state of mind that day.
There is actually more to this story, much more, as what I discovered that day also led to some interesting revelations regarding reincarnation, relating to eerie parallels in a beautiful painting of the Roman version of Persephone (Proserpine) by Dante Gabriel Rossetti that immediately appeared when I searched for her.
I will not convey the entire mythological story of Persephone here, except to say that abducted from her Divine parents by the God of the Underworld, she spent six months below and six months above, a wanderer between worlds, essentially forced to eternally journey from Heaven to Hell and back again.
About a month ago, I found myself rather unexpectedly interacting with an unusual guest as a regular caller to late night Portland paranormal talk radio. This is someone I would be unlikely to encounter in my daily life, a person whose spiritual path is intentionally focused on Darkness. And in a fascinating twist, we found ourselves connecting on common ground in a surprising way, despite the diversity of our apparent paths, common ground leading straight to and from the Divine.
This conversation and some subsequent research had quite an impact on me, leading me to face and attempt to reconcile the Darkness, including the Darkness in our world and in ourselves. It led me to ponder a question I had confronted before: What if "heaven" and "hell" aren't quite what we perceive them to be?
When we reflect on the question "Is this Paradise?", reminiscent of the wanderers in Field of Dreams, we are invited to reconcile Earth's most challenging paradoxes.
Pondering the plight of Persephone, seemingly caught between worlds, I was inspired to set her free, crafting a simple tale of Illusion rendered by Duality:
What if Persephone discovered that Heaven and Hell meet in a place called Paradise?
And in this place Persephone discovered between the two worlds she resided, one day she invited the angels and the demons to meet to play a game.
The angels were asked to stare as long as they could possibly bear at the darkness until utterly repulsed. They did this willingly, being the empathic beings they held themselves to be, seeking to understand.
The demons didn't need to be asked to rise to the challenge, boldly staring at the light with demonic bravado, being the daring creatures of the dark they held themselves to be.
Then something unusual happened they did not expect. Suddenly they realized they were all staring in a mirror, the most repulsive sight of all, yet they could not look away.
For the "angels" saw the darkness they despised within themselves, just as the "demons" saw the dreaded light within.
And in that magical mirror of utter Clarity, the dark and the light instantly disappeared before their eyes, revealing the Beauty masked within.
It was in this way Persephone finally taught her beloved how to truly love themselves, handing them the Key to Paradise.