Of Mothers, Daughters and Cracking Open the Pomegranate…

my pomegranates 1 by sierragoddess
my pomegranates 1, a photo by sierragoddess on Flickr.

A fruit of both the body and the soul, the spirit and heart, the pomegranate casts a net long and wide, deep and with breadth stretching into those areas of life perceived not with the eyes but with inner knowing that comes with age and experience.

The relationship between mothers and daughters is as old as humankind and time.

What could Persephone have been thinking when she ate of the pomegranate seeds while still in Hades, ruled by Pluto (Hades), the uncle who had abducted and then raped her?

The daughter of Demeter, a goddess in her own right, the diviner of fertility in both the land and of women’s bodies, did not Persephone know or conceive of the possibility that her mother would search for her, pursue Persephone’s whereabouts?

With Zeus, Hades and Poseidon as her brothers Demeter had forged a place of her own in the pantheon of Greek gods.

A passionate mother who loved her one and only child, Demeter was anything but weak and cowering.

Or had Persephone given up?

Perhaps Persephone, like her mother, Demeter, bereft and lost, had reached the end of her wits as a result of what the abduction and rape.

Life has a way of trying us all, and in so doing makes plain our hidden vulnerabilities, sore spots we never knew, or realized existed.

Or did Persephone simply give in and let go of the illusion of invincibility that would naturally travel with the life of a goddess and/or her offspring, a deity in her, Persephone’s own right ?

What trick did Hades play upon Persephone such that in those last moments with Hermes (Mercury,) messenger of the Gods and sent by Zeus,  waiting to take her home, back to where she would be safe and could remain with her mother indefinitely, she chose to peel the flesh of the of the pomegranate away from the seeds and eat them?

Eating a pomegranate involves a process, that of excising the crown or head of the fruit then cracking open the pomegranate and lastly picking out or extracting the seeds from the heart or membrane of the fruit–not an easy task or one accomplished when rushed at times of high drama.

Persephone might not have known that Hermes stood near awaiting her presence to jettison her back to Demeter.

We can only imagine the emotions and energy time with Hades stirred and brought forth in Persephone.

What did she see or imagine from within her own heart of hearts or given life through Hades’ words that provoked her to hunger and then eating?

What thoughts passed through her mind as she cracked open the pomegranate, and separated from the fruit each of the 4-6 seed that she ate?

Placing each one in upon her tongue, chewing, swallowing and ingesting them, Persephone lowered the curtain on the life she knew and underwent as a child, and also transformed the experienced she endured with Hades her abductor.

The tortuous life and relationship of mothers to daughters reflects and affirms so many of the qualities exhibited by Persephone and her mother, Demeter.

The undying love a mother holds for her daughter, the despair and mourning Demeter endures when Persephone goes missing, Demeter’s ceaseless searching across the land and at great distances over time during which, despite her loss and hurt, she shares her knowledge and secrets of fertility and goodness with others.

Wrath and anger wells forth when Demeter fails to locate Persephone.

Demeter allows the land to go dry and barren like she feels within.

The hollowness engulfing Demeter threatens the survival of the people who depend upon her goodness and bounty to fertilize the land.

Demeter learns that Hades abducted Persephone while she gathered flowers when playing with others.

Demeter proceeds to Zeus, who unable to mollify the cries of the people, dispatches Hermes to Hades with the command to bring her back.

Whatever we may think of Hades’ actions, Persephone’s choice to eat of the pomegranate seeds while in her uncle and abductor’s kingdom sealed her Fate and role as Queen of the Underworld, a place over which she would rule alongside Hades and wherein she would guide others on their sojourned through in an effort to face their life challenges.

Like Pluto from Hades, life demands that we mothers never give up on our daughters.

Though their actions often anger, and mystify us, a moment of self-reflection reminds us of the deeds we committed that turned the hearts and heads of our mothers, brought forth tears of pain and joy that dampened their cheeks.

As all people are the child of some mother, so too all daughters are Persephone, just as every mother embodies Demeter, the relationship binding them personifying the destructive aspects of Pluto in Hades concomitant with the restorative and healing properties of the pomegranate, and its seeds that Persephone ate.

Persephone’s act of eating the pomegranate seeds cast both destruction and healing upon her, Demeter and all binding them.

She would spend less time with her mother, only one half the year. But in having eaten the seeds, food of the Underworld, Persephone cracked open her Fate, revealed her duty and destiny, gave birth to the purpose of her life and living.

I would imagine she and her mother had much to discuss during those six months Persephone spend on top of the earth, the time of spring and summer.

The beauty of the flowers surrounded by nature and its most enlivened would seem to speak of the bounty and fruitfulness of their many conversations.

All mothers would be oh, so blessed to experience and enjoy such discussions with our daughters.

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