As the legend goes, Hades rarely ventured out of the underworld. But, the few times he did, he encountered Persephone. She was the alluring daughter of Zeus and Demeter.
From the moment he first set his eyes on her, he was drawn to her and instantly fell in love. So, Hades went to his brother Zeus to consult him. Zeus had previously promised Hades one of his daughters in marriage. And when Hades told him that he wanted to marry Persephone, Zeus obliged.
He knew, however, that Persephone’s mother Demeter would never allow her daughter to marry the dark god of the underworld. Hades was heartbroken that he would never be able to have Persephone as his wife. So, the two brothers hatched a plan that would see him marry the woman he desperately loved.
The next morning, Demeter and her daughter descended upon the earth. The two were incredibly close just as most mothers and daughters are when girls begin to transition into womanhood.
Demeter was the life-giving goddess of agriculture, grain, and harvest. She provided mortals with plants, food, and vegetables. She also gave them the ability to cultivate wheat.
She showed them how to plant the seeds, nurture them, and harvest them. She even taught them how to grind the grain to produce flour, which they could turn into bread. Demeter left her daughter with the nymphs of the sea to watch over her while she went to tend to her earthly duties.
Zeus knew that the nymphs would never let Persephone out of their sight for fear of Demeter’s wrath. So, he had Gaia plant an enchanting narcissus flower in a nearby garden. As Persephone wandered away from her mother and into the garden, she saw the flower and was immediately drawn to its beauty.
No sooner had she stooped to pick it, than the ground beneath her feet began to quake and a gaping crack soon appeared. As the crack widened, Hades and his chariot of black horses emerged from it and began charging towards Persephone.
Before she could even master a scream, Hades grabbed Persephone and took her down with him to the world of the dead. The nymph named Sion witnessed the abduction and had tried to rescue Persephone, but there was nothing she could do.
She was no match for Hades. Sion was so distraught over her friend’s abduction that she cried until she melted into a pool of her tears, forming the river Sion.
When Demeter returned, she couldn’t find her daughter anywhere. So, she asked the nymphs about it, but they had no answer. Demeter was furious that they didn’t protect her daughter like they were supposed to.
Her wrath rained down on the nymphs, and she cursed them with plumed bodies, scaly feet, and wings. They would no longer be called nymphs of the sea. They would henceforth be known as sirens.
When Persephone’s belt was washed up by the river Sion, Demeter knew that something dreadful had happened to her daughter. She roamed the earth for days on end driven mad by her beloved daughter’s disappearance.
She searched endlessly, neglecting her duties to tend to the earth to nourish the mortals. Plants withered, animals died, and famine ravaged the earth resulting in untold misery. The cries of the mortals reached mount Olympus, and Zeus knew that he had to intervene to calm Demeter’s wrath and spare humanity.
Persephone: The Dark Queen
Zeus sent Hermes to the underworld to bring Persephone back home to her mother. When he got there, he was surprised by what he found. Instead of finding a sorrowful grief-stricken maiden, he was met with a radiant Queen.
During her time there, Hades had beautiful gardens built for Persephone. He treated her with respect and compassion, and she inevitably began to fall in love with him. She saw a side to him she had never seen before, and she embraced her new home helping the spirits of the dead to cross over.
When Hermes requested her return, Persephone was conflicted. On the one hand, she loved Hades and wanted to remain with him, but on the other, she loved and deeply missed her mother.
Hades was terrified that if she was presented with the choice of staying with him of returning to her mother, he would lose. So, he gifted her with six pomegranate seeds to eat, and she did. In Greek mythology, it was believed that if one ate food given to them by their captor, they would always return.
Love Conquers All
When Hermes brought Persephone back to Mount Olympus, Zeus asked her where she would like to live. She expressed that she wanted to stay by her husband’s side.
Demeter was infuriated by her response and was convinced that Hades had something to do with it. She wouldn’t have any of it. She said made it known in no uncertain terms that if her daughter did not return to her, she would never again tend to the earth.
Zeus decided that Persephone would split her time between her mother and her husband. Since she ate six pomegranate seeds, Persephone would spend half the year with her mother at Olympus and the other half with Hades.
The Changing Seasons
Many believe that the Demeter and Persephone story explains the seasons of the year. During the time that Persephone spends away from her mother, Demeter causes the earth to wither and die. This time of year became autumn and winter.
Persephone’s arrival to be reunited with her mother signals a renewal of hope. It represents the rebirth of untold splendor and abundance. The earth once again becomes fertile and fruitful.
All Photographs by Michelle Gemma
and featuring a collage by Ellery Twining on the last photo for “The Changing Seasons” featuring Models: Jane Anderson & Julia Farrar Gungywamp, Groton, CT USA
Weatherall is the first music video from Ellery Twining’s debut solo album “Revenge”, released 17 January 2022. It is a deep dive into intergenerational relationships… Written and directed by Mystic photographer Michelle Gemma, featuring archival photographs from Mystic’s 1990’s underground dance party scene at Mars Hall, alongside video footage from last decade’s recreation of scene at the Workshop. Edited by Jim Canty. The song and video are a tribute to British producer/DJ Andrew Weatherall (1963-2020), who passed as Twining was writing the songs for “REVENGE.” Song credits: Ellery Twining (all Noises) Dave Bentley (the Bass Guitar) Brad Bensko (Electric Guitar) Jason Curland (Percussion) Produced by Eric Lichter at Dirt Floor Recording & Production Haddam, CT Engineered by Guido Falivene Video credits: All photographs and video by Michelle Gemma Except two indoor Mars Hall dance party photos by Kerry Niering and Mars Hall demo photos by Erin Pipping Models: Carly Straub and Jane Anderson Photographed March 2022 in Mystic, CT, USA
“The body’s wisdom musically in touch and in tune, sensing the resonance of cellular awakening. Eager and enthusiastic and bright, you have given over to the process. Always in midstream. Seizing upon opportunities, challenges, openings. Needing to know just how it feels at the micro levels. What is it like to be free, to be joyous, to be unrestricted, here in the body, in the world? You seek the full-on motivating spark of knowing what it feels like to be tuned out and discovering what it really means to be tuned in all the way.” from Sagittarius at 23 degrees by Ellias Lonsdale
In much the same way in which he characterized planets and asteroids as powerful, gendered beings in Inside Planets, Ellias Lonsdale gives new depth and nuance to degree analysis, an area often seen as technical or reduced to cliche.
Lonsdale builds on three main degree interpretations: Dane Rudhyar’s concept of the Sabian Symbols described in The Astrology of Personality and An Astrological Mandala, Marc Edmund Jones’s Sabian Symbols in Astrology, and John Sandbach’s recent Chandra Symbols. Beginning in 1988, Lonsdale worked with his wife Sara in tracking the Sabian symbol, the Charubel Symbol (the most useful of the other sets of degree symbology) and the Chandra Symbol. After Sara died in 1993 Lonsdale worked with her (as Theanna) and their friend Alita “to pierce through the veil,” as he says in his Introduction, “to find the angel behind each degree. This ultimate version is won from death and fused with rebirth and each word shows this power.”
The degree symbols are most useful in elaborating a personal birth chart. One can learn about personal cycles from studying the place of a transiting or progressed planet by degree at a given time, revealing collective as well as personal timings. The Zodiac degrees also act as an oracle. One can open the collection anywhere for a given day, or in reponse to a question. The degrees will reveal what is happening now and if we are attentive and responsive to the cues, what is required of us. Comparing charts of friends and famous people who are known for certain qualities, one can gradually discriminate among the degrees.
These beautifully written and fully imagined readings of the Chandra degree symbols speak to a deep level of personal change and authenticity.
Ellias Lonsdale is the author of Star Rhythms, The Book of Theanna, and Inside Planets. He lectures widely on astrology and is an astrological counselor in Santa Cruz, California.
From The Polarity Experiments for Emporium Photo III October 1995 Mystic, Connecticut, USA
featuring Model: Bethany Webster Collaboration with Mark Wallace and his “Tree Wounds” series, Paradigm of Tree Mark tells us, “The tree, through the ages, has been seen as a symbol of balance and fulfilled potential. The viewer, upon first seeing these photographs, may only be affected by the notion of the wound. But upon finding that the wounds are those of the trees, the sensation becomes a deeper, unexplainable psychic phenomenon. By combining the tree and the human form I hope to provoke the realization that modern Western culture is out of balance with nature and itself, and expose the need to regain the connections.”
Happy Birthday Bethany who does great work with her “Mother Wound” psychology and education.
Saturn takes about 28-29 years to come full circle.
Saturn transits and cycles can be considered cycles of achievement and maturity. When Saturn forms a hard aspect to a personal point in our chart, we might feel that everything is slowed down–we encounter delays, frustrations, and pressures. But these times also challenge us to face reality, thereby opening ourselves up to increased wisdom and the freedom that comes with living in truth. cafeastrology.com
featuring Model: Caroline Walz as Pisces and her Saturn Return 8 March 2021 Westerly, Rhode Island, USA all photographs by Michelle Gemma Dec 17, 2020 12:04 AM EST Saturn entered Aquarius… Caroline was born with Saturn in Aquarius at 24 degrees! This is Saturn Return. This is the sixth planet from the Sun and the second largest planet in our solar system. Adorned with a dazzling system of icy rings, Saturn is unique among the planets. It is not the only planet to have rings, but none are as spectacular or as complex as Saturn’s. Like fellow gas giant Jupiter, Saturn is a massive ball made mostly of hydrogen and helium. Surrounded by more than 60 known moons, Saturn is home to some of the most fascinating landscapes in our solar system. From the jets of water that spray from Enceladus to the methane lakes on smoggy Titan, the Saturn system is a rich source of scientific discovery and still holds many mysteries. The farthest planet from Earth discovered by the unaided human eye, Saturn has been known since ancient times. The planet is named for the Roman god of agriculture and wealth, who was also the father of Jupiter. https://solarsystem.nasa.gov/planets/saturn/in-depth/
Demeter goes in search of Persephone and, during her journey, reveals her secret rites to the people of Eleusis, who had hospitably received her. Her distress at her daughter’s disappearance was said to have diverted her attention from the harvest and caused a famine.
The Mysteries at Eleusis originated in the two-fold story of Demeter’s life—her separation from and reunion with her daughter and her failure to make the queen’s son immortal.
The Mysteries began with the march of the mystai (initiates) in solemn procession from Athens to Eleusis. The rites that they then performed in the Telesterion, or Hall of Initiation, were and remain a secret.
Another important aspect of Demeter was that of a divinity of the underworld; she was worshiped as such at Sparta, and especially at the festival of Chthonia at Hermione in Argolis, where a cow was sacrificed by four old women. The epithets Erinys (“Avenger”) and Melaina (“the Black One”) as applied to Demeter were localized in Arcadia and stress the darker side of her character.
featuring Model: Jane Anderson all photographs by Michelle Gemma The Full Snow Moon of February in Virgo, Honoring the Myths of Seasonal Renewal, for the Full Moon Photoshoots series 27 February 2021 Norwich, CT USA