Path of She: Walking with the Goddess

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Demeter and Persephone: A Mother-Daughter Tale of Spiritual Evolution

Spring is the time of the Goddesses Demeter and Persephone, and their myth of rebirth and return to the Mother-Goddess ways of love and life. Though this ancient Greek tale is typically interpreted as a mythic explanation of the seasons, on a deeper level it speaks to our human spiritual evolution, collectively and individually.

As the tale begins, Persephone, a Maiden Goddess, lives in the sunlit realm within the protective circle of Her Mother Demeter’s love. The Earth is in the full bloom of Summer, overflowing with the love and life-centered powers of the Mother Goddess. 

So too, in the long-ago season of the youthful beginnings of our humanity, our ancestors lived within the protective circle of the Mother Goddess’s love. The Great Mother, as the source of all life, formed the bedrock of our collective consciousness and civilization. Women, as the embodiment of the Goddess, were our leaders and priestesses, and we lived and shared this Earth in alignment with the love and life-centered ways of the sacred feminine.

The myth continues: something shifts in Persephone, and She turns away from Her Mother Demeter’s sunlit realm of light and life. In the Fall, Persephone descends into the Underworld of darkness and death. Demeter, in Her grief over the loss of Persephone, withdraws Her powers and brings Winter to the Earth.

There comes a time when children must leave behind the love and guidance of their mother and find their own way in the world. Persephone left Her Mother Demeter and set off on a journey in search of Her deeper becoming and spiritual evolution. So too our ancestors turned away from the Great Mother, and set off on a path of self-determination. 

Though the myth tells us that Demeter withdrew from the world, in truth, it is we who withdrew from the Mother Goddess. Over the passage of thousands of years, we rejected and denigrated the Goddess and Her life-centered ways. The leadership of the Goddess and women was overrun by the rule of men and their patriarchal Gods. The Great Mother’s stories were rewritten, Her powers disassembled, and Her followers persecuted in a relentless battle to purge Her from our human psyche and society.

The seasons of humanity shifted into a long winter of soul, where dominion and death overruled love and life as the bedrock of our shared society, unfolding in a grievous period in our human history. Over the passage of millennia, we, the wayward children of the Great Mother, became lost to the Goddess and Her ways of love and life. Lost, we’ve committed great atrocities against each other and the Mother Earth.

In these modern times, our shared society and individual stories, with their shadow and wounding, are rooted in this grievous, collective history, passed down from our ancestors through the generations. We live in a world disconnected from the Goddess, and Her love and life-centered powers.  

Yet nothing lasts forever, and the seasons always turn from Winter into Spring. In the myth, the arrival of Spring heralds Persephone’s return from the Underworld into the waiting arms of Her Mother Demeter. Through Her trials and suffering in the land of darkness and death, Persephone is reborn, a maiden no more, but a feminine presence in Her full maturity and powers: the Queen of the Underworld and the Goddess of Spring Growth.  Where Persephone walks the land, She leaves a trail of spring flowers in Her wake.

Humanity too is on the cusp of a new season: a Spring of rebirth and new beginnings. Many of us are remembering and reclaiming the Goddess, and She is once more returning to our collective consciousness as we embrace Her love and life-centered ways as a directing force in our lives and greater society.

Persephone, through Her mythic journey, illuminates the path of our personal growth and deeper becoming. Our turning away from the Mother Goddess was a necessary part of our human spiritual evolution. Yes we’ve done terrible things and made a great mess of this world, both individually and collectively. And yet, we needed to fall, make mistakes, to face trials and suffering, in order to test ourselves, and to learn who we are and what we’re capable of, both the horror and the beauty. 

The Mother Goddess Demeter understands this, and loves and accepts us, knowing that everything we are, and everything we’ve experienced have brought us to this transformative moment. She is waiting to welcome us back to Her side, children no more, but adults in our full maturity and powers.   

The mother-daughter myth of Demeter and Persephone gifts us with these powerful teachings to guide our spiritual growth and evolution. Spring has arrived, calling us back to the sunlit realm of the Mother Goddess and Her love and life-giving powers. It’s time to step past our collective human history and our personal stories of trials and suffering, and into a new level of maturity and spiritual evolution.

Persephone shows us what this looks like. She has evolved into a bigness of being that can bridge and contain the wholeness of Her Self and life story, and the primal, opposing powers of the darkness and death of the Underworld, and the light and life of the sunlit realm.

Like Persephone, we need to step into a bigness of being that can bridge and contain the wholeness of our Selves, our human nature and our life experiences: death and life, shadow and light, horror and beauty, and suffering and love. This immense, transformative step is our spiritual evolution; we’re reborn as a more mature, evolved version of our Selves that can walk in the world as a wiser, more loving and powerful person — bearing witness and choosing from the full range of our human nature and capabilities — changing our lives, touching those around us, and sending ripples of transformation outward into the greater world — leaving a trial of new beginnings and fresh, new possibilities in our wake.

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 Karen Clark is the author of Tale of the Lost Daughter, The Path of She Book of Sabbats: A Journey of Soul Across the Seasons, and the Path of She Guided Journey Series. As a writer, teacher and waking woman, Karen’s passion is to return the Goddess and our sacred feminine nature back to their rightful place in our everyday lives. Her Path of She work translates Goddess mysteries to our modern search for meaning, healing, personal growth, and collective transformation.
Karen has been walking the Path of She, with the Goddess as her constant companion and guide, for thirty years. Her writings bridge everyday and magical realities, drawing upon her: in-the-world feminist studies and gender-equity consulting work; between-the-worlds magic and dreaming with the Goddess; and her personal, life-transforming pathwork of reclaiming her inner Goddess, feminine soul and womanhood.  


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