At the Crossroads: Anyone Bring a Flashlight?

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Review: "Persephone"

Wendy Rule refers to her 8th major album, Persephone, as her “most important album to date”.  Fans, both longtime and new, are taken on a journey from life, death, and life again as they follow Rule’s retelling of the popular and timeless myth of the earth goddess Demeter and her maiden daughter, Kore who becomes Persephone.  This double album features 24 tracks primarily presenting the voices of Persephone, Demeter, and Hekate, though others make a guest-appearance, too.  Persephone’s Oceanides (hand-maidens and friends), Hades, and a chorus round out the vocals and narrative of this ambitious musical project.  The voices of the chorus mirror the same tone, style, and function of those of ancient Greek plays and lend an authentic sound to the overall album production. 

Rule’s passion for this story is obvious down to the finest details.  She often speaks of her travels to Greece, the homeland of the Homeric Hymn to Demeter, and the inspiration she drew from ancient sites like Eleusis.  This sacred landmark is where the Eleusinian Mysteries are said to have been founded, and Rule does her best to not only convey Demeter’s grief and anger at haven lost her daughter, but also the awe and respect of the people who received Demeter’s mysteries of life and death as the Goddess revealed to them the secrets of nature’s cycles.  These are the same mysteries that are reflected in Persephone’s transformation from a maiden (Kore), to the Queen of the Underworld, and back again to the earth and her mother’s companionship.  It’s this story of transformation and mysticism that Rule presents in “Persephone”, a twelve-year labor of love.

Rule’s liner notes included in the CD booklet or via PDF on her website dive deeper into the myth and accompany the listener on Persephone’s journey.  In this document, Rule has provided a brief retelling of the myth, as well as a complete track listing and acknowledgements of those with whom she collaborated to present the album in its entirety.  This document includes not only contributing musicians, but information on artists who created images of pomegranates and goddesses for the album art, which is gorgeous on its own accord.  The liner notes for each track come with lyrics and comments on whose voice is speaking in that specific track (Demeter, Hekate, Persephone, or perhaps others) as well as a brief synopsis of the story told within that individual track.  That said, many of the songs tell their own tale and can be enjoyed independently, though the complete double album is a masterful epic, a journey unto itself.

There is no right or wrong way to enjoy this album.  Some songs hold up well as singles (“Oh Golden Grain”, “Before and After Life”, and “Eleusis”) whereas others have huge potential to be used in rituals (“Pomegranate”, “Thanatos”, “In Life Is Death, In Death Is Life, and “Ascent.”).  Persephone can also play as a complete concept album, described as a “song cycle” on Rule’s website.  It’s easy to get lost in the narrative, letting the story carry you from Demeter’s abundant golden fields, to the depths of the underworld where one claims their own power, and back up again to the world of the living where one integrates the lessons of both realms.  Rule, of course, is a master vocalist and musician.  She’s been creating and performing for decades, and her art is clearly a spiritual practice, a gift that she shares with others.  Her guitar playing in “Eleusis” is inspired and blends sweetly with the quivering cello of Rachel Samuel.  It’s rare that albums are so versatile, which sets Wendy Rule’s talent apart into a league of its own.

Persephone” is a work of art, from start to finish, from beginning to end.  But of course, through listening to the album itself we learn that nothing really ends, and nothing really begins.  With that energy in abundance, this is an album for all seasons, to be enjoyed in various settings – in your car, in your home, within a sacred circle, around a burning fire with other magical folks, as devotional offerings, or as guilty pleasures while cooking dinner.  With “Persephone”, Wendy Rule offers a well-rounded and memorable masterpiece.

NOTE:  Reblogged with permission from Penton Independent Alternative Media.

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Trivia is a social worker, freelance writer, minister, and priestess. She loves to have a good adventure. Follow her exploits on Twitter ( and on Tumblr (!
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