From Joanne Mattera's blog: "What I love about Easter is not the Christian holiday, but that it coincides with Passover and that both religions coincide with a time from the Pagan past in which Earth's rebirth was celebrated each year.
In Greek mythology, when the maiden Persephone was out gathering flowers one day, she was abducted by Hades, ruler of the Underworld. Demeter searched for her daughter but to no avail. In her grief, this life-giving goddess of agriculture and fertility turned the world barren and cold.
Knowing his people could not exist in such a state, the all-powerful Zeus forced Hades to release Persephone, but not before the nefarious ruler tricked the young woman into eating a handful of pomegranate seeds, thus assuring her return to him. (The Fates had decreed that anyone who consumed food in the Underworld was doomed to return to it.)
When Persephone arose, the earth began to warm. Flowers bloomed and crops began to grow. Demeter, joyful at the longed-for reunion with her beloved daughter, turned the land verdant and fecund again. And when Persephone descended to Hades in the autumn, the earth once again became barren and cold, a cycle that ever was and ever may be.
I love this story, which has its roots in the agrarian culture of Bronze Age Greece (and probably long before that). Of course the ascension of the child to a higher realm is a familiar scenario, but I am always moved that here it is told in terms of mother and daughter, a reminder that culture has not always been defined from a male point of view. The lovely Persephone was Proserpina in the land of my Magna Graeca-Etruscan-Roman-Italian forebears, so I feel a special kinship to the myth, which was a religion, the Eleusinian Mysteries, long before the son ascended to his father."
More of this beautiful essay at...