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

August 2013

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