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Goddess Archetype - Persephone


A brief psychological overview of Persephone

Persephone - possessing an introverted temperament (polar opposite to Hera) with issues of inner world control/ power--she represents the goddess of the underworld--concerned with the world of spirit, the occult, matters associated with death. She is mystical, visionary and often possesses spirit guides. Her awareness is diffuse. Persephone belongs to the relationship-oriented ‘vulnerable’ goddess category having a very close relationship with her mother, Demeter. Another aspect of her vulnerability, Persephone was abducted, taken to the Underworld and raped by Hades. Her mother, Demeter mourned, sorrowfully, in the face of her abduction.

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Persephone is said to have a younger counterpart to herself--Kore--another name for the young Persephone. Psychologically, this may be a representation of two or three levels of this archetype: Kore, the Maiden, Persephone (or Demeter), the mature Woman, and Hecate, the Wise Crone.

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Persephone type woman is more attracted to the spiritual nature rather than the physicality of her partner. She may unconsciously attract destructive relationships or potentially controlling partners. As an unconscious protective measure, she may choose a safe alternative in a younger, non-threatening partner whom she can mother.

See the Goddess Typology Quiz
to determine your various goddess characteristics


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The ancient Olympian Goddesses -

a deeper look

Persephone - represents the feminine archetype of the mediumistic mystic, connected with the spirit-world. She is also the archetypal child--radiating optimism and good hope.

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Mythological history: Kore, daughter of Demeter, was the maiden aspect of Persephone. Kore, the maiden, was abducted (at the suggestion of Zeus) and raped by Hades and forced to be his wife. In the myth of Persephone, young Kore was plucking flowers in a field when Hades, her uncle and god of the Underworld, abducted her to be his Queen in the dark world below. The goddess, Hecate, strongly associated with the dark side of the moon and with witchcraft - was the only one to witness Kore’s abduction. She hears Persephone’s cries but does nothing, herself, to help and, furthermore, does not seek help from others.

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Kore was extremely unhappy in the darkness of the Underworld. She also missed her mother, Demeter, terribly, as they had such a close mother-daughter bond. Kore was ultimately allowed to rejoin her mother, who had arranged Persephone’s release. However, Persephone was obligated to return each Fall to spend four months of each year in the underworld as consort to Hades because she had eaten four pomegranates. It is thought that Kore as ‘maiden’, Demeter as ‘mother’ and Hecate as ‘wise crone’ represent, in more ancient times, the three-fold nature of Persephone in the various life cycles of a woman.

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Psychologically, Persephone is immersed in the collective unconscious--absorbed & molded by it. She acts out those “unacceptable” aspects in her environment, which others will not acknowledge--therefore, she activates that which others perceived as dangerous--and this becomes her personal problem. Persephone functions as seer, medicine woman. She belongs to the category of ‘vulnerable goddess’ - suffering pain in relationship--humiliation by abduction and rape. Her consciousness is diffuse, taking in all, rather than focused.

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  • To the Romans Persephone was known as Proserpine.
  • Typically, Persephone woman possesses a youthful face at any age.
  • She is a pleaser type whose tendency is not inclined toward assertive directness.
  • Her nature--sympathetic, highly tuned into people’s feelings and needs
  • She is responsiveness to the needs of others - has difficulty saying ‘no’ --difficulty recognizing and asserting her own boundaries.
  • Directionally unsure, lacking solidity of purpose possessed by her virgin goddess sisters
  • Musing and intuitive nature rather than intellectual mind - difficulty ‘explaining’ her reasoning as it is an intuitive perception.
  • Less at ease with/in her body & sexuality than other goddess types
  • Strong connection to spirit - deep ambivalence toward outer world & her sense of being misunderstood & alienated from conventional society
  • A primarily Persephone type, keenly sensitive, typically possesses a fragile ego structure, therefore, easily overwhelmed by feelings and impressions from her unconscious
  • Persephone type has difficulty discriminating and has difficulty putting her impressions into words.
  • Keen ability to cross over into other realms of psychic consciousness - very at home in the world beyond the physical senses
  • Attracted to metaphysics, healing, intuitive, service-oriented work
  • By nature she is reclusive/retreating, secretive, possessing a sensitive system requiring time away from external stimulation.
  • “Underworld” understood as ‘unconscious’--then, Persephone has been abducted to the ‘unconscious’--to deal with aspects of her own personal unconscious material and also the collective unconscious.
  • She experiences episodes of depression, and/or bouts of mysterious, difficult to diagnose illnesses.
  • A primarily Persephone type is not promiscuous. She may be unwittingly drawn to partners that attempt to dominate/control her. As a protection she may shift to much younger lovers with whom she can mother and feel safe.

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  • Challenges facing Persephone
    • Persephone (Kore) was forced to live in the Underworld for part of the year. Persephone woman is, likewise, required to acknowledge and visit her own inner underworld--her Dark side - the consequence of this avoidance is exposure to considerable suffering:
      • prone to attracting people with severe problems or possibly abusive behaviors
      • prone to mysterious illnesses difficult to diagnose or treat
      • sense of deep alienation, isolation, depression
    • Indicators that Persephone woman has not sufficiently completed her ‘Hades’ decent:
      • ever-youthful ‘facial mask’ that defies her actual age by mid life
      • she may tend to wear her hair long and loose in young-girl fashion even into mid life
      • she tends toward flowery, or girlish clothing - having not yet matured her sense of self into the Mother/Crone aspects of this goddess

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  • Persephone’s task is to return to the Mother--return to the mature goddess who now knows separation, sexuality and death. In fact, the two goddesses are one - in fact, they are three: the maiden, the Mother and the wise Crone. The cycle of life and death need to be embraced - dualities such as light and dark. When Persephone woman attempts to blot out/deny the awareness of her dark side: anger, rage--she remains the uncompleted maiden. The mature Persephone who has returned from her underworld journey has seen all; she unites birth and death within herself. She has become the wise woman, cheerful, however also having accessed her repressed rage, still retaining her youthfulness as an elder, mature woman.

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  • Persephone’s dark side - the archetypal victim - whereby she feels powerless in the midst of her circumstances - or long-sufferer/martyr - “surviving” on sympathy of others -- and, the flip side -- Hecate - the witch & killer - the one who ignored Persephone’s cries -- unconscious, repressed rage which is projected onto others

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  • Persephone’s wound - a woman overly identified with the Persephone archetype will find herself repeatedly attracted to situations, people or health issues that diminish her sense of personal power. These situations/events do not appear to be her own doing--they seem to happen to her, out of the blue. Yet, she seems strongly drawn to these happenings, again and again and cause her repeated grief.

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  • Persephone’s task
    • uniting the dark and the light sides of the goddess within herself - by increasingly embracing the long-suffering victim/martyr into her conscious awareness. Addressing her issue regarding power. Willingness to look into the face of this suffering and understanding her relation to it--not from a place of blame, rather, empowerment. Recognizing that such a strong attachment to the Light castes a very dark shadow.
    • Persephone must renounce her maiden self (the lovely, nice, gentle persona with it’s lofty ideals and attachment to ‘innocence’, and to renounce her helplessness)- allowing it’s death - as she descends to meet with Hades - and, eventually, emerging as the Woman-- in recognition of her power that she, now, accepts - no longer projecting this power onto others.

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  • Persephone’s gifts - Her receptivity, intuition, empathy toward the suffering of others, her keen powers of imagination, inspiration, ability to read the hearts and minds of others. Persephone, once matured through her own inner work, is the guide to the Underworld

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  • Persephone’s personality
    • As a child & adolescent:
      • Quiet, unassuming, compliant, eager to please - similar to a willow - will tend to bend along with the circumstances or in relation to stronger personalities around her
      • Introverted, imaginative, often lives in her ‘own little world’ of make-believe, perhaps as a strategy to escape the unpleasantness she experiences in her family environment
      • She often prefers playing alone, by herself.
      • She enjoys her solitude, a Persephone child may be found daydreaming, listening to music.
      • Unsure of her preferences, difficulty making decisions
      • Persephone child is often the family “problem” child or scape-goat because her sensitivities do not conform to family norms.
      • Persephone child often faces trauma in childhood, emotional and/or physical.