rhian_crockett: A painting of a castle; there is a red flag flying. (Default)
[personal profile] rhian_crockett
As people can quickly figure out from glancing at this journal, I really like retellings. Especially ones that twist things a bit, turn some of the reader's expectations on their heads. Retellings that claim or reclaim something for people they didn't originally have space for.

So a friend poked me one day and asked if I could think of any women -- goddess or mortal, it didn't matter too much -- who would be down in the Underworld at the time of the Rape of Persephone. I had a think about it -- Pandora, perhaps? I thought -- and then remembered Hecate, who I knew helped Persephone in the Underworld...

And then the friend suggested I write a story for them, a lesbian twist on it. And here is that story. Details are drawn from the Homeric Hymn to Demeter, The Aeneid (trans. W.F. Jackson Knight), and the twisty paths of memory and imagination. The idea of Hecate making the journey into the Underworld in this way is mine, her payment to Charon is mine, the tears and the laughter of Persephone are mine... yet hopefully I've made something that could almost fit in the repertoire of a Greek storyteller.

This is a commission, under my model of 'pay what you think it deserves' (and remember, payment is not always money). If you ever feel like commissioning something from me, PM me and we'll have a chat about it. Everything that I post here is free, at least for the moment, but I do need to eat, so if you come across my work and think, hey, I wish I could buy her dinner sometime... Well, there's a donate button on my profile, a Flattr button on all my story posts, and a meal and a drink at my favourite cafe costs me around £8.

For [personal profile] sweet_sparrow, with lots of love, and many thanks for the seed of an idea.




The Voice of Persephone

Persephone went into the Underworld, and Hecate followed.

The echoes of Persephone's cries still linger there -- can you hear them, you mortal, whose spirit lingers always by those doors? Without a golden bough, without a guide, without a light, Hecate went down, and the sound of Persephone's weeping was the only sound for a long time, a lifetime. Mortal shades flickered past her, but Hecate did not look, knowing she would be torn by pity, knowing that she would weep. The only tears she had time for were Persephone's; she had turned even from the tears of Demeter.

Into the darkness went Hecate.

She passed the shades of the dead, and the caves where evils slept. She did not listen to the whispers of false dreams, for hers was true, and she could hear the voice of Persephone. The monsters dared not touch her, for terrible was her face in its resolve. Can you hear her footsteps, mortal?

She did not hesitate when she came to her crossroads. She went down into the Underworld, she went down to the shores of the dreadful rivers. As the world froze above her in Demeter's helpless grief, Hecate went down. The only coinage she brought to Charon was her own: she brought him choice, and he laughed a laugh like the rattle of chains as he learned it, as he first chose the souls who could come with him. Because of Hecate, mortal, you will beg before Charon when you come to the shores of those rivers. Your weeping will not be heard, for the sound of those rivers and the dark winds that blow all carry only the echo of Persephone's tears.

Hecate went on, down into the dark.

She passed the endless fields, the shades of forgotten heroes, the death-dry husks of women who had once laboured in the light. She looked neither to the left nor to the right, but only straightforward, and in all that darkness she saw a light, and she knew it was the light of Persephone's face. You will see that light, moral spirit.

Hades spoke no welcome.

"Do not eat," Hecate said. Persephone did not raise her head. She did not see the gold of Hecate's hair, shining even in that darkness.

"She already has," Hades said, without joy, for joy had never come here, not even with the lovely laughing Persephone, for she no longer laughed.

"I will stay with you," Hecate said, and dared to go to Persephone -- dared to lift her head in her hands, dared to mingle their breaths, dared finally to touch her lips. Dared, as Hades had not dared. And Persephone opened her eyes, and touched Hecate's shining hair in wonder.

"She is to stay with me, six months of every year," Hades said, jealous Death. "It has already been agreed."

"Then I will stay with her."

"You will have no throne, no crown."

Persephone stirred again, and laid her hands on Hecate's head. "She needs no crown but this," she said, and oh -- she laughed, in the deepest darkness she laughed, and even Hades found that he was glad, and the shades who heard her laughter no longer wept or sighed. You will rest in that echo of laughter at the last, mortal, when you finally reach it.

In the spring, Hecate and Persephone went out into the light, hand in hand, to receive the blessing of Demeter. In the autumn they returned to the darkness in the same way.


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The Voice of Persephone by Rhian Crockett is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

(no subject)

Date: 2011-06-19 05:44 pm (UTC)
alexseanchai: Blue and purple lightning (Default)
From: [personal profile] alexseanchai
This is beautiful.

(no subject)

Date: 2011-06-19 06:32 pm (UTC)
sweet_sparrow: Miaka (Fushigi Yûgi) looking very happy. (Squee)
From: [personal profile] sweet_sparrow
Awwwwww. That's so sweet! And very beautiful. ^-^ Sadder than I was expecting, I admit, but very beautiful. It's got a wonderful lyricism and rhythm to it. (I really, really liked the one-line paragraphs. They're so short, but they say so, so much. Some of them say even more than the longest paragraphs in this piece.)

Eeee! Thank you, hun! <3 (I'm glad you liked the idea and ran with it. But eeeee! I love it! <3<3<3<3)

(no subject)

Date: 2011-06-20 02:44 pm (UTC)
sweet_sparrow: Miaka (Fushigi Yûgi) looking very happy. (Affection)
From: [personal profile] sweet_sparrow
Oooooh. ^-^

(I especially love the ending, which I have not told you yet I love especially. *reads and rereads, is happy* ^-^)

(no subject)

Date: 2011-06-19 09:05 pm (UTC)
syntaxofthings: Lain from Serial Experiments Lain with my name on it. ([SEL] Lain)
From: [personal profile] syntaxofthings
I don't know what to say. So beautiful. <3

(no subject)

Date: 2013-01-29 07:37 pm (UTC)
alexseanchai: Blue and purple lightning (Default)
From: [personal profile] alexseanchai
Ha, I knew it. I knew when I saw your other name on the staranise lovememe that there was a Persephone thing I adore that had your name attached, I just couldn't remember where, and I found it!

Hecate and Persephone

Date: 2013-04-29 02:42 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] baldjean
It has always been my belief that Hecate and Persephone were lovers. In the old Greek myths Hecate was by no means the crone she later became. And I could never believe Persephone (whose name was Kore before her abduction) fell for her rapist. And Hecate is often shown to accompany Persephone not only in the underworld, but also on her trips back to the surface of the earth.

I am actually a lesbian myself and married to another woman. Not only that, I am also a High Priestess of Gaia, the ancient Greek Goddess of the Earth, and so is my wife.

On a side note, both my wife and I have alopecia universalis; we met in a self-help group. That is a disease which makes all hair fall out from head to toe, even the eyelashes. There is not a single hair on us anywhere. We are used to it meanwhile, and for our role of High Priestesses we even see it as a symbol of purity.

There are several different myths about the origin of Hecate; in some of these she is a daughter of Gaia. There are also myths in which she is the elder sister of Kore. I like the idea that she is a daughter of Gaia, and that Gaia accepts Persephone as child after Hecate and Persephone become a couple.

So in our rituals my wife turns into Persephone and I into Hecate. The union of this couple is very powerful since Hecate is the Goddess of Witchcraft and Persephone, according to some myths, has the power of looking into the future. In some ways the couple is like a lame man riding on the shoulders of a blind and guiding him. Persephone can see what the future will be, but she does not have the power to do anything about it. Hecate as the Goddess of Witchcraft can alter things with her magic, but she can not see the outcome; for this she needs Persephone.

We even created a calendar of our own. It has 13 months of 28 days each, plus a New Year's Day which does not belong to any month or week. In leap years New Year's Day is followed by Leap Day, which also does not belong to any month or week. This calendar has the advantage that a certain date will fall on the same weekday every year. What's more, all months start with the same weekday. We named our weekdays after the seven Pleiades, by the way, and the thirteen months after Greek Goddesses. Our calendar year starts with the vernal equinox which marks the beginning of spring. That way a year resembles a human life, with spring being childhood and youth (the first 20 years), summer young adulthood (the next 20 years), fall middle age (the next 20 years) and winter old age (the rest).

The solstices and equinoxes, which mark the beginning of the four seasons, are our holy days. We paint ourselves head to toe in the color of the beginning season for them (light green for the grass of spring, bright red for the blossoms of summer, yellowish-brown for the leaves of fall and white for the snow of winter). Here is a link to a photo of me painted for the fall equinox.

http://img837.imageshack.us/img837/6633/highpriestessjean.jpg

Edited Date: 2013-04-29 05:57 pm (UTC)

Re: Hecate and Persephone

Date: 2013-04-29 11:34 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] baldjean
I certainly did, and so did my wife when I showed it to her.

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rhian_crockett: A painting of a castle; there is a red flag flying. (Default)
Rhian Crockett

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