I’m writing a new play right now about the Greek tragedy of Persephone. She runs away, or is stolen into the underworld so her mother Demeter, Goddess of fertility and harvest stops all growth on earth until her daughter is returned to her. Her lament is so great she’ll kill the planet and starve everyone to death to get her child back. This doesn’t work so she goes on a spiritual quest to find her. I as well have been on a spiritual quest my entire life, searching, poking, proding, praying for something, longing for answers to why and what and how. When I am dying I want to be able to say “I did my best with the job you gave me God(dess).
And so that’s why right now, I’m in a loft above a barn overlooking the horse pasture working full-time on a play about betrayal, survival and hope.
Here is an excerpt from a book I was just reading…
“All cultures have developed a similar mythology about the spiritual quest. The hero feels like there is something missing in her life or in society. The old ideas that have nourished her community no longer speak to her. So she leaves home and endures death defying adventures. A huntress, a neophyte, a shaman all have to turn their backs on their families and endure fearsome trials. She fights monsters, climbs inaccessible mountains, traverses dark forests and in the process dies to her old self, gains new insight and skill which she brings back to her people.
During this time the hero learns about the world. That is, she is part of it, rather than the leader of it. She can talk to animals who are in fact wiser than her, and if she climbs to high peaks she gets closer to the Gods of sky and earth and rock and underworld and animals. She sees the ritual performed in all her actions, connecting her world to the spirit world that surrounds her. She learns not to ask The Gods for anything for herself but to worship them simply because she is in awe.
Myths tell us what we have to do if we want to become a fully human person. You cannot be a hero unless you are willing to give up everything. There is no ascent to the heights without a prior descent into darkness, no new life without some form of death. Throughout our lives, we all find ourselves in situations where we come face to face with the unknown and the myth of the hero shows us how to behave.
So if our current professional religious leaders cannot instruct us in mythical lore to teach us how to be human it is now up to our artists and writers to perhaps step into this priestess role and bring transformation and fresh insight to our lost and damaged world.” –A Short History of Myth by Karen Armstrong
All the Greek women I’m reading about are unstoppable amidst having no chance of success; and they all have the same calling. They set out for their hearts desire whether that be for revenge or love or wisdom and they don’t stop searching till they find it.
And usually the tenacity works out. The Goddess Demeter did get her daughter Persephone to return to earth from the underworld for 6 months of the year even though she had eaten from the forbidden pomegranate. Spring returned.
But my point is, ferocity, sacrifice, exhaustion and death are the characteristics that make the hero succeed in these greek myths.
You have to go down into your dark animal nature. You have to get rough. No one ever slayed the 3 headed dog that guarded the river stix by sending him positive vibrations.
What I like most about mythology is that that there is no right and wrong in the stories. There is no patience, no second guessing and no judgement involved when a woman tries to get what she wants at all costs. She doesn’t give a shit if it pisses her family off and she is willing to destroy all that gives her comfort to make it happen.
She lifts her sword high into the sky and knows that what she is fighting for is already hers.