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A Fall Equinox Mystery: Persephone and the Sacred Feminine

At the edge of the edge of the sunlit realm, where a rough-hewn stone stairway leads down into the velvety darkness of the Underworld, Persephone awaits you, still and silent, wrapped in a black cloak that rustles in a bone-chilling wind. She is beautiful and fearsome, with penetrating dark blue eyes, pale skin, lips the rich red of pomegranate, and long, lustrous ebony brown hair.

This is not the young maiden Goddess, alight with joy and innocence, that you may have read about in the ancient tales, but a regal being who has fully claimed Her place and sovereignty in the great weaving of life.

“Change is in the air,” Persephone says after She has greeted you, “For millennia, humanity has rejected the ways of the sacred feminine and the powers of the sacred dark that reside within the Underworld. There is a grievous imbalance in your world that cuts you off from the natural cycles and powers of life, and your own whole/holy nature.

Yet the season of humanity is turning and a great awakening is upon you. Your Deep Self is reaching for you, calling you to a life of soul and drawing you back to my side and the lost ways of the sacred feminine.”

She extends Her arm and you wrap your fingers in the soft, black folds of Her cloak. The space around you shimmers and morphs, and you find yourself transported to another time and place, looking out on a scene from when the world was fresh and new.

A younger version of Persephone plays in the meadow before you, picking flowers and smiling Her delight. Her face has the warm tones of skin kissed by sunlight and Her eyes are of a lighter shade of blue gray.

“You see me here when I lived in the bright circle of my Mother Demeter’s loving embrace,” the older Persephone beside you says, “Life was very, very good. The green-growing realm was my playground and I wanted for nothing. Yet I was restless, always seeking the outer edge of things, hungry to know more, experience more, become more.”
 
As you watch, the young Persephone wanders further and further from the meadow and the protective circle of Her Mother. Her light-hearted smile has been replaced by an intense focus, as if She is being drawn forward by a compelling, irresistible force.

A great fissure appears in the Earth at Her feet and a God-like being emerges. He emanates a powerful elixir of animal magnetism and ethereal beauty, as if He is equally woven of flesh and of light. A piercing cold spreads outward from His body, withering the wildflowers and yellowing the leaves within reach of His frosty breath. Yet His somber, coal-black eyes are filled with tender warmth as He gazes down at the lovely Persephone.   

“Hades,” She whispers with a note of longing in Her voice and taking a tentative step in His direction.   

“Come,” He says, extending a hand to Her, “it is time for your awakening.”

For a moment young Persephone pauses, looking over Her shoulder from where She came and then down into the inky darkness before Her. And in this moment, it is as if you are inside of Persephone, feeling the push and pull of Her trepidation and profound hunger in the face of this vast unknown realm. A calm determination rises up from Her core, quieting Her fast beating heart and steeling Her resolve. Then She slips Her hand into Hades’s, a faint smile playing across Her lips, and the Earth closes over their heads, swallowing them whole.

The scene disappears and you are once more standing beside the older Persephone at the stone steps leading into the Underworld.

“Life never stands still,” Persephone says, “Something inside of us seeks the edges of what we know in search of our deeper and greater becoming.

“No matter my worldly knowledge and gifts, and all the lovely things that gave me joy and pleasure, I was incomplete in the sunlit realm of my Mother’s world. The dark side of my feminine nature was missing, compelling me to descend into the Underworld, with Hades as my companion and guide, to find and awaken the dormant pieces of my whole/holy nature.”

As Persephone speaks, the light fades from the sky and a profound stillness settles on the land. Fall is in the air and the natural world, like Persephone, has begun its descent into the secret mysteries of darkness. 

“I tell you my story so you may know the ways of the sacred feminine,” Persephone continues, “To seek the true power and nature of your Deep Self, you must step past the border of your known world into the depth of the Underworld that resides in the inner folds of your psyche and in the mysteries that underlie waking reality.

“When you brave the Underworld and travel its ways, you reclaim what has been lost, the sacred feminine and the sacred dark, and you begin the hard, hard work of returning balance and wholeness to your life and your world. Your journey will not be easy because the trials and revelations of the sacred dark are meant to test and teach you. And yet, if you follow in my footsteps and stay the course, healing and profound change will come.

“This journey of soul begins with wherever you are right now, at this moment. Whatever is ready to awaken in you waits for you in the sacred dark.”

Persephone places Her hand on your chest, sending Her wise teachings into the core of your being. Her story is your story, the story of the turning of the seasons into Fall, and the story of the unfolding of our collective humanity. Always at the Fall Equinox, the sacred darkness opens portals that beckon to a new cycle of healing and growth.

Then Her touch and Her presence are gone. Yet you are not alone at the portal to the Underworld. He waits for you on the stone stairs, a magical messenger to guide your journey back to your Deep Self.

“Come,” He says, His hand extended to you and His eyes brimming with tender warmth,  “it is time for your awakening.”

Take His hand, descend; the sacred darkness and your deepest becoming await you.

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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. 

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PERSEPHONE IS RISEN TODAY!

Persephone is risen today,

Alleluia!

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Your Spiritual Evolution: Four Transformative Teachings for the Spring Equinox


The Spring Equinox is a time of rebirth and new beginnings. Nature buds and blossoms as the seasons of light and life return, and the Goddess offers up Her mysteries of spiritual evolution to guide your journey of soul.

In the Fall, Persephone begins Her journey as a maiden who leaves behind the sunlit realm of Her Mother Demeter. She descends into the Underworld, and spends the Winter months traveling its mysteries of darkness and death, and suffering its trials.

In the Spring, Persephone returns to Her Mother Demeter’s realm of light and life as a Goddess reborn into a more mature, evolved version of Her Self. She is the Queen of the Underworld and Goddess of Spring Growth, with a wholeness and bigness of being that is wise, loving and powerful enough to bridge and balance the immense, opposing energies of the death-centered Underworld and the life-centered sunlit realm. Where Persephone walks the Earth, She leaves a trail of spring flowers in Her wake.

Through this mythic Goddess tale, you can embrace a new understanding of your Self, your life story, and your journey of spiritual evolution. Here are four transformative teachings offered by these Mother-Daughter Goddesses, Demeter and Persephone, at the Spring Equinox.

1. New growth and beginnings arise from darkness, death, suffering and wounding.

In many spiritual traditions, spiritual evolution is associated with a rarefied, higher state of consciousness: one becomes enlightened, ascends to a higher frequency, and transcends the human, material condition.

The problem with this conception of spiritual evolution is that it’s elitist, granting spiritual superiority to the very few who can achieve this state of purity. It favors the path of the monk or ascetic who chooses to separate themselves from the complexities and messiness of everyday life. It negates the very substance of our human existence, that we are flesh and blood creatures, living in a material world. And, most importantly, it leaves out the vast majority of us traveling a sincere spiritual path of personal healing and growth in accordance with the dictates of our own soul and life story.

Nature and the Goddess illuminate a very different conception of spiritual evolution.

In Nature, green-growing things arise out of the dark belly of the Earth, nourished by the decay and death of composting soil. The Goddess Persephone comes into Her full maturity and power through her trials and suffering in the Underworld. Persephone’s experiences in the realm of darkness and death are the very makings of Her personal growth and spiritual evolution.

You don’t need to think of spiritual evolution as a rarefied state of enlightenment.  Instead, you can understand and engage your spiritual evolution as a journey of new beginnings and growth that arise out of the darkness, trials, suffering and wounding of your life story. Rather than transcending these inescapable parts of your human experience, you can honor and embrace them as the very things that inform and nourish your journey of evolving into your full maturity and power.

2. Your life story is the vehicle of your spiritual evolution.

In the Fall, Persephone sets out on a journey of discovery and self-determination outside of the circle of Her Mother Demeter’s love and guiding presence. She has Her own, unique, personal experiences in the Underworld, separate from the ways of Her Mother and the sunlit realm She left behind.

This is Persephone’s story, not Her Mother’s, nor the story of any of the other Goddesses in the Greek pantheon.  And it’s the full range of Her life story — with its beginning in the sunlit realm of Her maidenhood and innocence, travels into the depths of the mysteries and trials of the Underworld, and return to the sunlit realm, stepping into a new level of maturity, power and wholeness — that drives Persephone’s personal growth and spiritual evolution.

Your life story, from the moment you are born to your very last breath, is the vehicle of your spiritual evolution. You aren’t here on this Earth to live by the dictates of anyone else’s story, or to become anything other than your true, deep, beautiful Self.

Like Persephone, you must consciously choose to set off on a journey of discovery and self-determination by stepping beyond the people and parts of your life that define and limit you, and descending into the mysteries and trials of your inner darkness. Here you’ll find everything you need — amongst the lost and repressed parts of your Self and life story that hold your beauty, wounding and dormant potential — to guide your new, spring-like beginnings of personal growth and transformation.

This isn’t the work of one season, but of a lifetime of descent into your inner darkness and personal trials, and return to the sunlit world of new beginnings and personal growth.  The journey itself, drawing on the wellspring of your life story, is your spiritual evolution.

3. Equanimity is an essential skill on your journey of spiritual evolution.

Your spiritual evolution is driven by a special kind of transformative magic. Whenever diverse, opposing energies come together, and are held in a state of equanimity, something miraculous happens. Life is reborn in new, fresh ways that are only possible through the potent meeting and mixing of opposites.

Equanimity is your capacity to remain present and open, in a balance and neutral frame of mind and emotional state, no matter what life brings your way. With equanimity, you can face your life’s trials and challenges, and hold the tension of the complex, opposing parts of your Self and life story, with wisdom, love, acceptance and trust.

Nature and the Goddess Persephone illustrate this transformative magic, and the essential role played by equanimity in the miracle of springtime rebirth.

In Spring, Nature reveals a living equanimity where the wild world is reborn through the balanced, harmonious interweaving of the primal, opposing forces of life and light, and darkness and death. When Persephone returns to Her Mother Demeter in Spring, She is reborn into a mature, evolved version of Her Self, whole and holy as the Queen of the Underworld and Goddess of Spring Growth. Persephone demonstrates Her equanimity through a bigness of being that is wise, powerful and loving enough to bridge and balance the divergent worlds of the death-centered Underworld and the life-centered sunlit realm.

This transformative magic equally applies to your spiritual pathwork. Whenever you consciously embrace and engage diverse, opposing parts of your Self and life story with equanimity, the miraculous happens. You heal, grow and evolve in powerful, new directions that can only arise out of the complexities and polarities of the wholeness that is your life.

4. Spiritual evolution is a journey toward wholeness.

In Her Underworld travels, Persephone reclaims the missing half of Her nature. Her maiden side lived in the realm of light and life, but She was incomplete without the part of Her that held the mysteries of the Underworld and Her experiences of death and suffering. Persephone isn’t one thing or another, but a wholeness that contains it all. At the Spring Equinox, it’s Persephone’s wholeness, as the Queen of the Underworld and Goddess of Spring Growth, that reveal Her as a Goddess evolved into Her full maturity and powers.

Nature is this wholeness. It’s an ever-shifting balance and harmony of darkness and death with light and life. With the change of season, one state naturally steps into the foreground as the other recedes, but neither ever totally replaces the other, and both are absolutely essential and interdependent. It’s Nature’s wholeness that gives rise to springtime’s new, green growth.

You are this wholeness. Yet, like Persephone, you have lost connection with parts of your true nature. By seeking out these lost parts of your Self and life story in your inner darkness, and bringing them back to the light of your conscious engagement, you reclaim your innate wholeness woven of the fullness of your Self and life experiences of light and shadow, beauty and wounding, and love and suffering.

This spiritual pathwork of seeking and reclaiming will naturally change and evolve you, deepening your spiritual maturity and power, and granting you a sense of peace and rightness as you live in accordance with the rich, complex wholeness that is your innate, true, beautiful nature.

Photo Credit: Gariele Wright on Unsplash

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Autumn Equinox: Roots Deepen

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Dorrie Joy (Somerset, UK) is a mother, grandmother and lover of the wild earth, an artist and traditional craftswoman creating sacred space for her woman and girls.

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Reclaiming the Goddess Mysteries of the Hera Path

Change is in the air. For millennia, humanity has rejected the ways of the Goddess and the mysteries of the sacred dark. We’ve lived a half-life, cut off from our deep roots in the Divine Feminine, the primal powers of Nature, and the profound beauty and magic of our body, shining soul and authentic Self.
 
Yet the season of humanity is turning, and a great awakening is upon us. The Goddess reaches for us, as we reach for Her. It’s time to reclaim Her hera path, and retell this sacred, transformative tale for these modern times. Here we’ll find the very things we need to guide our spiritual journey and quest for self-discovery, personal growth and spiritual evolution that can truly mend our soul and make our life, and our world, anew. 

The Goddess and Her hera path are foreign to our contemporary sensibilities. The original Goddess hera tales have been mostly lost to us. What remains are fragments of myths, like those of Persephone and Inanna, whose deeper meanings and transformative teachings have been relegated to the fringe of our human society and psyche. 
 
Instead, our mythic storytelling and meaning making are dominated by the powers and perspective of God and men. The hero’s journey — that comes to us through the comparative-mythology writings of the late, brilliant Joseph Campbell — is the prevailing mythic storyline of our human quest for personal and spiritual growth.
 
In its basic structure, the hero’s journey is a quest where outer trials and treasures fuel our spiritual adventures and personal growth: the hero begins in the everyday world, where he is given a quest or call to adventure; he sets out on a journey where he faces greats trials, usually with the help of an ally; he fights his biggest battle, and through his victory he achieves his quest and claims his treasure; and then he returns to the ordinary world as a reborn or changed man.
 
If this storyline sounds familiar, it’s because we’ve been telling this hero-journey tale for thousands of years. Joseph Campbell found this story structure in important, surviving myths from around the world, including those of Buddha, Mohammad, Jesus and Moses. Frodo, Luke Skywalker and Harry Potter are contemporary examples of our continued reliance on the hero’s journey to tell big stories of spiritual adventure and personal growth.
 
But something is missing in these mythic stories. The hero’s journey is presumed to be a universal spiritual journey for humankind, when in reality it only speaks to the masculine, outer- and action-focused aspects of our human nature and spiritual growth. The missing mythic storyline is the hera path, with its inward-focused, Goddess-based tale of descent and return from the Underworld.
 
In its basic structure, the hera path has four phases: the Goddess descends into the Underworld realm of the sacred dark, leaving behind Her known world as She begins a new cycle on Her journey of self-discovery and spiritual evolution; She travels the ways of this realm, suffering its trials and embracing its mysteries of death and rebirth: She dies to Her old Self, and is reborn anew; She returns to the sunlit realm of light and life, transformed by Her travels into Her full maturity and powers: Queen and Goddess of the realms below and above, who bridges the primal powers of darkness, death, light and life; She walks the sunlit realm, at one with Her Goddess power and presence, leaving a trail of blossoming life in Her path.
 
When translated to your personal journey of soul, the hera path directs your spiritual quest inward to the sacred dark of your inner psyche and the mysteries that underlie waking reality. In contrast to the hero’s journey, there’s no outer enemy to battle, but more the imperative to brave the trials and challenges of your own life story, and to be present and empowered in the face of the raw truths of your experiences, both the beauty and wounding, and the light and shadow.
 
To reclaim the hera path is to embrace a Goddess-based conception of personal growth and spiritual evolution. You’re not trying to reach a rarified state of enlightenment that’s often associated with spiritual evolution, nor are you trying to emulate the qualities of someone or something outside of your Self. Instead, your journey of soul is about becoming a more evolved, whole, powerful version of your Self.  You show up to your life and spiritual pathwork with wisdom, love and self-acceptance,  knowing that darkness, death, trials and suffering are inevitable parts of human existence and your life story, and the very things that drive your spiritual growth and evolution. 
 
The hera path has always held these transformative mysteries of the Goddess on our behalf. Persephone has been making Her journey of descent and return from the Underworld over and over again in the mythic realm, waiting for the time when we would once again seek Her guidance and wisdom on our journey of self-discovery and spiritual evolution. Her story, along with the more ancient tale of Inanna, are as potent and relevant now as they were in the distant days when they were first spoken, and maybe even more so given how long we’ve strayed from the life-giving, soul-nourishing ways of the Goddess, and how lost we’ve been from the deep roots and mysteries of our own Self and soul.
 
What is lost can be refound and reclaimed. As the seasons turn to Fall, Persephone waits for you at the edge of the known world, where the everyday gives way to the deeper Mysteries that underlie human reality. Her hand is extended, reaching to you with an open invitation to join Her at this edge place where the ancient hera path of the Goddess begins.

Photo by luizclas from Pexels

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  • Karen Clark
    Karen Clark says #
    I checked out your website and oracle deck. Very cool. Yes, we share the same passion. I write about the transformative mysterie
  • Dver
    Dver says #
    Wow, you've hit on something very close to what I've described as the Girls Underground archetype - something that begins with Per
  • Karen Clark
    Karen Clark says #
    Thanks for the positive feedback Tasha. I'm so glad the article speaks to your Truth. Blessings.
  • Tasha Halpert
    Tasha Halpert says #
    This is an interesting piece of writing, and I experienced it as very true, or should I say a veritable Truth. Thank you for your
The Goddess and the #Metoo Movement: Mythic Tales for these Modern Times

Something essential is shifting in the foundations of our world as we witness others tell their long-hidden, #metoo stories, and tell our own stories in turn. We’re speaking truth, and being heard. We’re saying: you’re time is up, and holding male perpetrators accountable. We’ve woken up, en masse, and we’re not going back to sleep. And we’re not alone.

The Rape of Persephone

From the long ago of Greek civilization, comes the #metoo tale of The Rape of Persephone.

Demeter's trim-ankled daughter whom Hades rapt away, given to him by all-seeing Zeus. Apart from Demeter, lady of the golden sword and glorious fruits, she was gathering flowers over a soft meadow, roses and crocuses and beautiful violets, irises also and hyacinths and the narcissus, which Gaia made to grow at the will of Zeus and to be a snare for the bloom-like girl--a marvelous, radiant flower. And the girl was amazed and reached out with both hands to take the lovely toy: but the wide-pathed earth yawned there in the plain of Nysa, and the lord, Hades, with his immortal horses sprang out upon her. He caught her up reluctant on his golden car and bore her away lamenting.
(Source: Homeric Hymn 2 to Demeter (abridged) (trans. Evelyn-White) (Greek epic C7th or 6th B.C.)

Let this piece of Persephone’s story sink in. Persephone is a Goddess. Her Mother Demeter is a Goddess. These are big, powerful, feminine beings that bring life, abundance and beauty to the Earth. Yet the God Hades, with the help of the almighty Zeus, can do want He wants to Persephone.

Hades desires Persephone so He abducts and rapes Her, and makes Her his bride.  Persephone is taken against Her will, and Demeter can’t protect Her beloved daughter.  Later in the tale, Persephone is returned to Demeter, but the damage has been done. She’s eaten the fruit of the Underworld, and is forced to be with Hades, Her abductor and abuser, part of every year.  

Here we are, some 2500-plus years later, and Persephone’s tale still speaks truth to women’s experiences of male power and sexual violence. Rape, domestic violence, sexual harassment, gender discrimination, and the pervasive sexism of everyday life find their deep roots in this ancestral, mythic negation of our feminine divinity and sovereignty. As the Gods do to the Goddesses, so men do to women.

Our #metoo stories are this old, and older still.  We modern women are the latest manifestation of the suffering of our mothers, grandmothers, great-grandmothers, and the long, long female line that went before us. And the Goddess stands with us in our suffering, and our awakening. 

Persephone’s story is our story. We didn’t write or choose this story. It was written by men in power with the intention of usurping and subduing the sovereignty and powers of the Goddess, and we, Her earth-bound daughters. The purpose of this story was, and still is, to make us forget and fear our vast, mysterious feminine nature, and to make divine and normal our powerlessness in a male-defined reality.    

As ancient as Persephone’s story may be, and as entrenched as sexism and misogyny may appear in our current, status-quo reality — this is just one story and one version of reality. It’s not truth, not inevitable, and not even original.  The Rape of Persephone is an abomination that debases and distorts a much older tale of the Goddess and Her descent to the Underworld.

The Descent of Inanna

Dial back another 3000 years to ancient Sumeria and the tale of The Descent of Inanna:

From the Great Above She opened Her ear to the Great Below.
From the Great Above the Goddess opened Her ear to the Great Below.
From the Great Above Inanna opened Her ear to the Great Below. 
Inanna abandoned Heaven and Earth to descend to the Underworld.

When Inanna arrived at the outer gates of the Underworld, She knocked loudly.
She cried out in a fierce voice: 'Open the door, gatekeeper! Open the door, Neti!
I alone would enter!'

Neti, the chief gate keeper of the kur, asked: 'Who are you?'
She answered: 'I am Inanna, Queen of Heaven, on my way to the East.'
Neti said: 'If you are truly Inanna, Queen of Heaven, on your way to the East,
why has your heart led you on the road from which no traveler returns?'
Inanna answered: 'Because of my older sister Ereshkigal, Her husband,
Gugalanna, the Bull of Heaven, has died. I have come to witness the funeral rites.’
(Source: Wolkstein, Diane; Kramer, Samuel Noah (1983), Inanna: Queen of Heaven and Earth: Her Stories and Hymns from Sumer)

Let this fragment of Inanna’s story sink in. Inanna is the Queen of Heaven and Earth.  Ereshkigal is the Goddess of the Underworld. This is a story and reality where Goddesses, not Gods, reign in the Great Above and Great Below, and hold between them the primal mysteries of life, death and rebirth.

Later in the tale, we discover that Inanna, like Persephone, suffers the trials of the Underworld. But She does so by Her own choice and great courage. Through Her descent, She submits to the transformative mysteries of the Dark Goddess Ereshkigal. She is stripped bare, and dies to Her old self in order to be reborn into Her full powers and beauty. When She emerges from Her journey in the Great Below, Inanna is whole, holy in the full spectrum of Her Goddess powers and wisdom – Queen of Heaven, Earth and the Great Below.

Inanna’s story is also our story in these #metoo times. By our own choice and great courage, we are turning our ear to the Great Below, and embarking on a journey into the Underworld that underlies our everyday reality. Here, in the dark, shadowy places in our inner psyche and shared society, we are seeking out the lost and repressed stories of sexual violation and gender discrimination that have scarred our lives.

The Great Below isn’t the realm of Hades and male power. The dark isn’t a place of rape, violence and domination. These are lies and distortions that block us from the wild, raw depths of our women’s power and mysteries, and from the very things that can mend our lives and world: our pain, grief and rage, and our truth, beauty and sovereignty. And, like Inanna before us, when we emerge from this journey, we can become whole, holy in the full spectrum of our feminine powers and wisdom, transforming not only our personal lives but also our shared society.

Our Modern #MeToo Tales

Feel the power of Persephone’s and Inanna’s legacy. Your #metoo story is a part of these ancient Goddess tales, and the lived experiences of the long line of women ancestors that have gone before you. Your voice is part of a world-changing movement of women speaking truth that can unravel the past, and reweave a collective reality that returns women to their rightful place in our shared society.

We’re in this together — Persephone, Inanna, you, me and the countless others braving their #metoo tales. Our lives, truth and stories matter. Safety, respect and honoring our feminine nature are our birthrights. It’s time for a new myth and collective reality, guided by the tales of Persephone and Inanna, and yet fresh and inspired by our personal stories and lived experiences.

Hades, Zeus, the male ancestors who wrote these mythic tales, and the men who continue to abuse and dominate women: their time is up. Whatever comes next will be of our writing and choosing, in service of our greater womanhood and sovereignty, and beauty, love and justice for all.

PHOTO CREDIT: Rupert Bunny, Rape of Persephone, via Wikimedia Commons

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  • Judith Shaw
    Judith Shaw says #
    Great look at these two stories and the differences they reflect. I've often thought of Inanna as the original Whole Goddess of t
  • Karen Clark
    Karen Clark says #
    You are welcome Judith. And thanks for the great comment. I too love Inanna in Her wholeness and sovereignty, and find the parall

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