Over here in the Southern Hemisphere we are experiencing the abundant lifting of energy which accompanies the beginning of spring. Trees bursting into blossoms, the petals of which fall slowly like snow and lie scattered on the fresh green grass a carpet of white, or latch onto the dog’s fur, giving him a spring time flavour. The warmth of the Sun shines down onto newly naked skin which sings with pleasure at its kiss. Golden light of sunny days has pierced the previous coldness of the winter gloom and inwardly a feeling of coming alive after the long slow and at times grinding sleep of winter with its intimations of death, loss and ending occurs.
I feel myself like the caterpillar unfurling wings after a long sleep in which decay led to a transformation from one form of being to another. After months (or it seems like years) of being folded up so tightly in myself from grief I am unfurling, breaking free of the cocoon that has contained me. I find myself longing for flight at times when I am not just steeped in the contentment of pottering in nature and gazing upon the spring time bounty of my garden.
As I ruminate on this time of year I can’t help but think of the myth of Persephone and Demeter. While walking in the fields one spring day Persephone looked down to find a narcissis flower which she reached down to pluck from the ground, immediately the ground opened up, it swallowed Persephone. The Underworld God, Hades (Pluto in astrological archetypes) claimed her for the Underworld, where after eating of the fruit of a pomegranate she was fated to live now, separated from her mother Demeter, only able to return to the Upper world for 6 months of the year. Her return occurs at the beginning of Spring and this myth explains the emergence of and cycle of the seasons not only in nature but in the cycles of psychological time which bring both spring/summer seasons and experiences as well as autumnal/winter ones.
When I entered recovery for addiction just under 22 years ago I began to read a lot about the myth of Persephone. She was a figure I identified with, especially as her archetype was explained in a book called The Goddess Within. Like Persephone, I had undergone a capturing trauma that took me into the dark at the age of 17. Actually there were two major traumas the followed in quick succession and led to at least another half dozen as they also led me onto a path of addiction where I tasted the fruits of and struggled with dark feelings of powerlessness in the face of traumatic ruptures and changes which I had no power over.
I lived in that dark reality for just over 14 years at an unconscious level before finding sobriety. All kinds of dark things happened to me at that time. Then at the age of 31 I found connection, hope and love in the shape of a lovely man from the UK who was in touch with the earth. We met and married and I got sober all around this time of year. It was a chance at a new start, but I carried the baggage of trauma not yet made conscious. It possessed me in a way I have not fully understood until recently.
In time after 6 years of light, the dark claimed me again. We returned to the UK where at that stage I did not yet understand I had deep ancestral connections. I remember being on the moor in Devon where the wild ponies roam and I sat on the ground. A wild pony came up to me and I swear it shed a tear. I was entranced. When my husband and I returned to Australia after that initial visit in 1998 we decided to move back, such was the power of emotion awakened for both of us. Just over 6 years later we were back in the Southern Hemisphere and everything fell apart. I could not leave my sister who was disabled or my mother who was struggling here alone.
There is a lot more to the story, which I am sure may be a bit tired now as I have shared about it elsewhere on this blog. I had another relationship which made me see all the ways in which I was still trapped in pain and patterns I did not yet fully understand. It ended just under 5 years ago when Chiron returned to its natal place in my seventh house.
At that time, traumatised and grieving deeply, I found my home (sanctuary) here, back in the place of my birth. I got the help to buy it and the resources to begin to build my cocoon here, actually and metaphorically. I was launched upon a search to differentiate the people who would help me come to know the nature of my wound and make it conscious at deeper levels in order to extract necessary meaning and lessons of wounding, growth, love, letting go, healing and transformation.
During this period my oldest sister died in the peak of the Chiron return time as the leaves were shedding and the earth fell into its Persephone time again. I was returned to the winter season of my soul, grief which had so many deep resonances over so many other experiences of loss. I entered into an ongoing dialogue with the inner punisher who I had internalised so many years ago, a dark underworld figure that could reduce me to tears with is lack of empathy and killing invalidation. Only lately in the last year or so have I found the loving voice inside that is helping me now to throw off old patterns.
Over these years I have I experienced all the strange symptoms of grief and trauma that have been buried. I went through all the anger and rage over my powerlessness in the face of everything lost. In the grieving of the wound, in the coming to know what was lost I have come to see the value in that which still remains and in this knowing the return of spring becomes possible, but I know enough now to know it is only a season winter will come again but this time I wont try and run from it with addictions.
There is a lot left to celebrate. Spring reminds me of this. Four beautiful children my sister, Jude, created and the next generation living on. New love in my life in the form of a puppy who came into my life just under three years ago, who could love me unconditionally so that I could learn to love myself in all the broken places unconditionally. He showed me my dark side. My need to have things neat and tidy, my fear of creativity and mess I was not able to enter as a child in a house very much controlled by perfectionistic rules. He has taught me a lot about forgiveness, about constancy, about bearing with, about laying low and resting, about playing and connecting, even on the deep dark days when everything seemed hopeless.
Now spring has come for us both again. As it does I am reminded of the promise of springtimes past both harsh and kind, this time of rebirth and renewal is not negated but informed and enriched by knowing of the seasons of winter of death, endings, sadness and loss all part of a cycle which makes the gift of life all the more poignant and precious.
For today Persephone in me frolics above ground in the garden, in the park and in the love I feel even for those who in wounding me lead me to essential lessons of love, of life, of healing.