(Story begins here) “Thank you, Mother” gasped Persephone from within the encirclement. She tapped Demeter’s back as if a wrestler requesting release from an unbreakable hold. The older woman reluctantly complied and stepped back, bringing into view a woman who literally took Pete’s breath away. Tall and slender with long golden hair running the length of her shapely back, she had an immaculately beautiful face which was wearing a look of intelligent long-suffering. Stepping forward, she offered a dainty hand, which Pete shook warmly in the sunlight. Persephone turned and raised an eyebrow at her mother, who just beamed with joy, barely noticing. “It looks like Lisa didn’t brief you on protocol when greeting a Goddess,” said Persephone stiffly but with a twinkle in her eye, “you’re supposed to kiss my hand, not shake it.” Pete blushed.
“Oh, crikey, sorry. I didn’t realise.”
“Shall we try again?” This time Pete took Persephone’s hand and kissed it respectfully. Persephone beamed, that’s better. “So yes, I’m Goddess of fertility of vegetation, but I’m extremely fertile in all sorts of aspects.” Persephone widened her eyes suggestively, causing Pete’s blush to begin spreading out again.
“Persephone darling, be a good girl and do not talk to the nice boy like that,” said Demeter imploringly. Pete had already dismissed the thinly veiled invitation on three grounds. Firstly, that he was hopelessly in love with his girlfriend Sarah. Secondly that he felt the invitation may be unhealthily related to her past trauma, and thirdly, that intimacy with the wife of the god of the underworld would almost certainly have, to say the least, undesirable consequences. He decided to move things along. “So… who was that woman that flew across the sky?”
“Oh, that’s Eos,” said Persephone casually, “lovely girl but not good at time keeping. Bit of a problem for a Goddess of the dawn, rather annoying when the days keep getting longer and shorter. Someone should have a word.”
“So how was it this time Persephone darling?” said Demeter, the younger Goddess let out a bored sigh.
“Oh, much the same, about as good as being married to one’s uncle can be. Hades was being a frightful bore, no fun at all. I think he’s still raw about getting the underworld when Zeus got the sky and Poseidon the sea. For three brothers, you’d think they’d do a bit of a rotation to give Hades a break, but it doesn’t seem on the cards.” Persephone sat demurely down on a marble plinth and appraised Pete with her mesmerising eyes. “So what brings you here then?” she said casually.
“This young man is having problems explaining about true reality as in his time, it is seen as male dominated,” said Demeter. Then her face lit up. “I know, perhaps a nice stuffed vine leaf would cheer you up!” she bustled forward with a large plate of delicacies, but Persephone stopped her with a casual wave of her hand and interjected.
“Elevation can’t be achieved without hardship. After all, it’s why souls have to be incarnated time after time, hardship brings lessons, it causes the soul to reach into itself for lessons it learnt when it was part of God. We need suffering.”
“Oh I think that’s one for me to help with. Our story is the biggest on the planet,” the young goddess said with pride. People from all over the world come to be initiated into the Eleusinian Mysteries and they’re all about Mother and I. We have the best legend ever as it’s a real archetype. Something physically excruciating happens to me, I descend into hell for a period of time, then I emerge triumphant back to the light and back to my loving, divine parent. Yes?” Pete was looking uneasy.
“Well, er, I live a few thousand years ahead of your time and that story kind of got… taken over. Christianity started to spread shortly after the fall of classical Greece, so now that story’s told with a father and son, not a mother and daughter.” Persephone looked outraged.
“Oh what? But surely the Eleusian Mysteries are still much bigger than Christianity in your time?” Pete grimaced.
“Not… really,” he said sheepishly, “I think they got shut down by the Romans, nobody’s really heard of them now, outside of academic circles.”
“Marvellous,” said Persephone sulkily, “so now everyone thinks that higher truths are inherently patriarchal when they’re not.” Then a thought crossed her mind and her brow wrinkled with suspicion, “hold on, if you’re from a few thousand years after proper Greece, then_”
“Classical Greece is the correct term my darling”
“Thank you Mother,” Persephone turned back to Pete, “that means, you’re the ones doing this to my mother?” The young Goddess pointed an accusing finger at the pock marks all over Demeter’s face. Pete was horrified.
“Oh no, I wouldn’t dream of doing something like_”
“Actually, I’m afraid you are doing it to me my darling,” said Demeter sadly.
“But… but how?”
“So many ways my darling, open cast mining, overfishing, quarrying, overpopulation, fossil fuel use. But I forgive you, a child never got through life without hurting his or her mother.”
“But what happens if this continues? I didn’t like to say but those pock marks look pretty bad.”
“I will die eventually, my darling.” Demeter was sad but did not seem bitter.
“But I thought Goddesses were eternal, they couldn’t die?”
“Mother and I are what in your time you might call ‘local copies’ of Goddesses” said Persephone, “we’re specific to Earth only, otherwise it would be a billion to one chance that we aren’t green-faced aliens or something. The real Goddess of agriculture, the form of agriculture, covers all of creation, you see, of which Earth is a vanishingly small component.”
“That’s right my darling,” chimed in Demeter, “a true universal Goddess would never proposition a mortal as my daughter has just done.” Persephone raised an eyebrow.
“You’re hardly one to talk Mother, as I recall you slept with Iasion, your own step-son. In a ploughed field of all places? Very classy!” Demeter’s brow creased.
“Now darling, don’t talk about your mother so. The way he looked at me made me rather… broody and he knew the risks.” Persephone snorted
“Risks? I’d say it was more of a certainty that Father would smite him with a thunderbolt like he did.”
“Well, Zeus always was jealous when it came to me,” said Demeter with a touch of pride, “anyway darling, perhaps we should finish discussing that another time when we don’t have company.” For the first time Pete detected a touch of ice in the older Goddess’s tone and decided to change the subject.
“So, if your story is the same as that of Jesus, does it make his story less true? Is it just a copy of yours?” Demeter frowned.
“Oh no, darling. It makes it truer. The life of Jesus is reflected across countless cultures in many different ways. Why? Because as above, so below. It is a reflection of higher things just like our story is. Why not have another stuffed vine leaf?” Demeter said pleadingly as she thrust her plate towards Pete.
“They’re delicious, but I really couldn’t manage another,” said Pete politely, “so your story is an archetype?” This time Persephone replied.
“Oh yes, elevation can’t be achieved without hardship. After all, it’s why souls have to be incarnated time after time, hardship brings lessons, it causes the soul to reach into itself for lessons it learnt when it was part of God. We need suffering,” finished Persephone simply. (continue)