Persephone

Parking (Jacques Demy, 1985)

I have observed time and again an idea prevalent in my field, depth psychology: myths choose us, not the other way around. Whether the myth first appears in a dream, through active imagination, or shows up in our writing, painting, choreography or sculpture; whether it presents itself in the guise of a contemporary novel, film, or video game that clearly harks back to ancient motifs, the ego is first a spectator. That is, we are treated to a spectacle and something becomes spectacular; we cannot look away. One hallmark of being chosen by a myth is the uncanny need to reencounter it many times over months, years, or even decades. It is as though we are slowly seduced, drawn into the delicious recesses of a deep mystery, our appetite increasing but what it feeds upon, to paraphrase one of Hamlet’s more petulant and precise observations.

I wonder whether our inability to completely see Persephone is not only characteristic of this goddess but is, in fact, an expression of her power. She may refuse to be fully known to remain inviolable. She may choose to preserve herself for herself despite the traumatic abduction — or possibly because of it. Or, her inviolability may symbolize the true nature of an underworld queen, the quintessence of bottomless depth in which arriving is simply not possible because there is no final understanding, only an endless cascade of deeper and deeper understandings.

The Enigmatic and Inviolable Queen – Elizabeth Nelson

The Matrix Revolutions (Wachowski Brothers, 2003)

Identifying the psyche more as the violated daughter than as Hades, Hillman evokes the “Persephone experience” as only one among many modes of descent to the underworld. He apparently, nonetheless, entertains a certain mythic solidarity with the rapist:

To be a psychotherapist and work in depth, one must in some way or another cooperate with Hades.
The intervention of Hades turns the world upside down. The point of view of life ceases…[W]e participate in Hades’ rape, which is, let us remember, not just psychopathy, but a central initiatory mystery in the Eleusis myths. This rape threatens the intact psychological system that takes its strength from life, holding to human relationships and the natural ways of Demeter’s daughter. Rape moves the Persephone soul from the being of Demeter’s daughter to the being of Hades’ wife, from the natural being of generation, what is given to a daughter by mothering life, to the psychic being of marriage with what is alien, different, and is not given.

Deep at work is the assumption that the realm of mother, of nature, and of life is metaphorically less conducive to soul-making, to depth, than that of wife: to transcend biology or first naiveté, indeed to descend, demands the subordination of the female to the male sphere, the “marriage of death.”
Some women write in full sympathy with Hades as well: “To be Persephone, to be this goddess, Persephone must be raped… I feel I understand now how Persephone moves from defense against Hades to love for him. Within and without, women have indeed been required to make this move. But this sort of psychic acquiescence in the patriarchal version of the myth endows the symbolism of rape with an air of sacred necessity. It is a form of what Simone de Beauvoir calls woman’s “complicity” in her own oppression.

Archetypal Process: Divine and Self in Whitehead, Jung, and Hillman – David Ray Griffin

Post em homenagem a Hades em seu dia, este que a descobriu e a mostrou e tem feito que eu a aceite, a entenda e assuma a Perséfone em mim. Embora Hades não soubesse que faço a tal analogia do “inferno”, tampouco sabia eu na época que o ato do psicoterapeuta estuprar a mente de seu paciente era conhecido como “Persephone experience” (D.H. Lawrence e sua obssessão por Perséfone, alguém?), aconteceu essa verificação mútua do óbvio por meio de um comportamento recorrente de anos (terapeutas Hades e cônjuges Hermes? Não deveria ser o contrário?). Hades é a única coisa que realmente vale o que se custa de todas a minhas despesas, então parabéns para ele e a todos psicólogos clínicos tão competentes quanto, independente do tipo de abordagem, que salvam mesmo muitas vidas por aí, em especial as profundamente machucadas que não mais tinham sequer esperança de qualquer salvação.

*Aqui eu faria alguma piadinha sobre Atena, Beauvoir, Artemis, estupro e feministas, mas lembrei a tempo que 99% da população mundial é dolorosamente literal, então deixa pra lá. Será que devo deixar algum tipo de recado extra para os paraquedistas? Nem, que se foda.*

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