Thursday, March 6, 2014

More Thoughts on the Abyss

The post I wrote recently about the abyss was inspired by a conversation with a friend.  I asked him how he'd gotten through a very dark time in his life without being totally screwed up.  Of course, maybe he is more screwed up than I realize.  I think I am more screwed up than he realized.  But what he told me was that he stood at the edge and looked into the abyss and knew he couldn't stay there long enough for it to look back into him.

I was thinking about that today and I think he was old enough and wise enough when he experienced trauma that he was able to recognize the abyss when he saw it and to know he could not stay there long.  I, on the other hand, was not old enough or wise enough to recognize it or to know not to linger.

Do you know the story of Persephone?  I talked about Persephone in that post.  But there are really two stories about Persephone, although many people only know one, the newer one, although both are really old.  Persephone is an ancient Greek goddess, the daughter of Demeter and Zeus.  In the earlier myth, Persephone went into the Underworld because she heard the cries of the dead and she went to comfort them.  In the newer, patriarchal version, she was kidnapped by Hades and taken there by force.  Demeter, the goddess of the harvest, went in search of her daughter and rescued her.  But because Persephone had eaten three pomegranate seeds while she was there, she has to return to the Underworld for three months each year.  That's when we have winter.  Demeter grieves for her daughter then and will not allow anything to grow.

I prefer the older version of the story, in which women have more power and aren't subject to the control of men who abduct and assault them.  But the newer version was more what I was thinking of when I first wrote about the abyss.  Because I did not choose to go there.  I was taken there, by force.

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