Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Anger that Does Not Turn Into Depression

Learning from Ancient Stories

The Story of  Determination:  Anger that does not turn Into Depression


Demeter is a Greek Goddess.  She is the Goddess of grain and harvest.  There are many stories about her and her daughter Persephone.   This ancient story finds it roots as far back as the seventh century BC, existing long before the deification of the Judeo-Christian story of the Father-Son.  In the beginning of this Greek story the mother and the daughter are one and as the years pass they become two separate entities.  


One story, the least familiar is about Persephone feeling called to the underground to help the dead rejuvenate and bring life to the people above ground.  This story resonates to the degree that we must leave our mothers to become adults.  It also resonates to the degree that Demeter goes through this empty-nest syndrome while Persephone is underground. 


However, the story that is most familiar and perhaps the one that you have heard is the story where Hades the God of the Underworld abducts Persephone. This abduction sends Demeter, Persephone’s mother into a plan of action.  In many versions of this story it says that Demeter suffered from a major depression and she would no longer tend to the planting of grain.  The earth became barren. 


We use to say in psychology that depression is anger turned inward.  Perhaps there is a tad of that in Demeter’s story.  Perhaps Demeter regretted letting Persephone run off and play.  But, rather than wallow in mother guilt, she does something about her situation.   She just refuses to plant grain.  I see it as a position of strength and determination, qualities that every mother needs.  Qualities that we need to harvest within our own self.    


The Greek people needed to eat.   Zeus, the chief God at that time and Demeter’s husband saw the abduction take place from Mt. Olympus.  When it was obvious to him that Demeter was on strike until Persephone was returned, Zeus requested that Hades return Persephone to her mother.  Then of course, as in every story there is a twist of fate. 


The story goes that Persephone refused to eat in the underground because she wanted to be returned to her mother.   When Zeus demanded that Persephone be returned, Hades tempted her with a pomegranate as a way of saying goodbye.  Persephone young and innocent did not understand the rules of the underground and she ate six pomegranate seeds.   As a result she belonged to the underground.  There are other versions of this part of the story too.


However, Zeus and Hades made a deal that Persephone could come above ground six months out of the year and thus we have our four seasons.  Spring and summer when things are blooming and growing and fall and winter where things are withdrawing and dying.  Life of spring sustains us through the dark cold months of fall and winter.  There is much to be learned by us as we take our own journey’s to find our compassionate mother within.   


There is a short video I found online about this story.  The video closes with “I am telling you that should anything ever happen to you I will bend the laws of life and death to retrieve you. I love you.”  Demeter.


That is the story of the Compassionate Mother.  She is within you.  You are one with her and now you are awakening your consciousness to her, in order that you discover such an inner unrequited compassion for yourself.




Robin B. Dilley, Ph.D.