Earthpages.ca

Think Free


1 Comment

The Oedipus Complex – Do adult ogres have unresolved stuff from childhood?

Oedipus complex: Oedipus explains the riddle o...

Oedipus complex: Oedipus explains the riddle of the Sphinx, Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres. (ca. 1805) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In Greek myth Oedipus was the king of Thebes who did his best to avoid a prophecy saying he would kill his father and marry his mother. Like most good tales about knowing the future, Oedipus inadvertently fulfills the prophecy by trying to avoid it.

We see this a lot in sci-fi with time-loop stories. The protagonist does everything possible to avoid a bad outcome but in doing so becomes part of the thread leading to that unwanted outcome.

A lot of people know about Oedipus but the old Greek tale never really grabbed me personally.  So I’ll just link to a good summary for the curious.¹

To me, more engaging is the synchronous/synchronistic connection between this entry coming up for revision and my recent interest in “Reelin’ in the Years,” where I’m doing a yearly retrospective of pop tunes I liked from the moment of my birth to 2018. Right now – as I revise this entry – I’m on 1965, where I write “I’m three years old.”

If this sounds weird, let me explain.

Oedipus at Colonus by Jean-Antoine-Theodore Giroust 1788 French Oil (5)

Oedipus at Colonus by Jean-Antoine-Theodore Giroust 1788 French Oil (5) by Mary Harrsch via Flickr

The Austrian pioneer of psychoanalysis Sigmund Freud began to use the name Oedipus in his work after seeing a performance of Sophocles’ tragic play Oedipus Rex. Some years later he came up with the term, Oedipus complex.

For Freud, an Oedipal complex develops after the male infant becomes fixated to his mother during the Oedipal phase of ego development (ages 3-5).

Here the infant develops bizarre beliefs because, well, he is just a child. He sees or perhaps hears his father and mother lovemaking (called the “primal scene”) and perceives his father as a threat.

His fear intensifies when seeing the father’s penis, leading the child to irrationally assume that he, himself, has been castrated. The child then demonizes the father and identifies with his apparently all-good mother.

He resolves the complex by eventually identifying with the father along with the external, societal demands that the father represents to the child.

Carl Jung – efigment via flickr

Freud believed successfully passing through the Oedipus complex was a natural process.

But if the complex goes unresolved, the man’s choice of – and demands from – lovers and marriage partners in later years reflects his unconscious infantile, mother-based expectations.

These desires are unrealistic and not grounded in reality (the “reality principle”).

Current trends in psychoanalysis trace the Oedipus complex to earlier conflicts (apparently) present in the first few years of psychosexual ego development.

As for girls, Carl Jung proposed an Electra Complex. But Freud maintained that the Oedipus complex applied to boys and girls, not really getting his own sexism.

Freud deprecated the term “Electra complex”, which was introduced by Carl Gustav Jung in 1913 in regard to the Oedipus complex manifested in young girls. Freud further proposed that the Oedipus complex, which originally refers to the sexual desire of a son for his mother, is a desire for the parent in both males and females, and that boys and girls experience the complex differently: boys in a form of castration anxiety, girls in a form of penis envy.²

Melanie Klein via Wikipedia

Jacques Lacan and others like George Herbert MeadAbraham Maslow and Melanie Klein acknowledge the importance of the early childhood shift from a narrow parent-focus to realizing a greater social self. That is, a world out there.

If I get Lacan right, he also says the unconscious unfolds throughout life with a synchrony of signifiers. For me, that means certain markers will appear at the right time³ for personal growth.

So the apparent coincidence of my working on “Reelin’ in the Years” (remembering feelings from age three) and this particular entry coming up for revision fits into both Freudian and Jungian theory—the former as synchrony, the latter as synchronicty.

That’s hardly surprising to me. I believe in not only attaining spiritual knowledge but also in digging deep into the childhood and early teen psyche to uncover any early feelings not entirely dealt with. Too many people, it seems, achieve some kind of functional ‘spirituality’ but not necessarily the best possible kind because they carry so many unresolved issues that their brand of otherworldliness simply covers up.

Rasputin via Wikipedia

You know… that psychopath boss at work. He or she has impressive insight or charisma but uses these qualities to cheat, manipulate or steal. Often we can’t really put our finger on it – because clever creeps are great at hiding their secret schemes – but our gut tells us something is terribly wrong.

Some say psychoanalysis is a science, others see it as a sham with little or no empirical support for its fanciful claims. Although the spirit of Freud’s approach still reverberates in psychiatry, especially with the almost unquestioned idea of the “unconscious,” the specifics of Freudian theory have largely fallen by the wayside.

Most countries see psychiatry as a credible discipline with legal powers and responsibilities while non-medical psychologists and humanitarians do not enjoy that kind of pervasive influence.4

Jacques Lacan criticized ego psychology and ob...

Jacques Lacan criticized ego psychology and object relations theory via Wikipedia

¹ Oedipus Rex or Oedipus the King Summary

² http://lnr.li/iwx7O/

³ This is how I understand the Greek word kairos. But probably not everyone would agree here.

4 In Ontario, for instance, psychiatry is covered by OHIP whereas other therapies (such as Jungian and various holistic approaches) are not.

Related » Electra Complex, Melanie Klein, Stages of Psychosexual Development, Totem

 The Enthralling, Anxious World of Vladimir Nabokov’s Dreams (3quarksdaily.com)

 White children more likely to suffer mental health issues, study finds (telegraph.co.uk)

 Yes, Your Daily Stress Can Haunt Your Dreams (livescience.com)

 Untangling the Complicated, Controversial Legacy of Sigmund Freud (thecut.com)

 The Greatest Quest: The Search for Meaning & Finding our Calling. (elephantjournal.com)

Advertisements


4 Comments

Obi Wan Kenobi – Wise Old Man and Sacred Warrior

Alec Guinness as Obi Wan Kenobi via Wikipedia

In the Star Wars Original Trilogy (1977-83), Obi Wan Kenobi is an honorable Jedi knight, played by actor Alec Guinness. He is also a spiritual teacher for the young hero, Luke Skywalker.

Obi Wan is the only character to appear within the first six Star Wars films. He appears in voice for the seventh but is absent in the latest Star Wars incarnation, The Last Jedi.¹

Guinness was nominated for an academy award for his 1977 Star Wars performance.

In the Prequel Trilogy (1999-2005), Obi Wan is portrayed by Ewan McGregor.

Most moviegoers and critics generally agree that the Prequel Trilogy isn’t quite as good as the Original Trilogy, but it does highlight the early development of Obi Wan’s charitable character.

Embed from Getty Images

.
In Jungian thought, the Alec Guinness version of Obi Wan exemplifies the archetype of the wise old man. Obi Wan’s miraculous ability to manipulate “The Force” for the greater good also fits with the archetype of the Sacred Warrior.

In the PBS TV series The Power of Myth (1988), the American mythology expert Joseph Campbell says the original Star Wars films are a modern myth. They take ancient themes and recast them in a modern light.

Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn (right) and Padawan O...

Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn (right) and Padawan Obi-Wan Kenobi, as portrayed by Liam Neeson and Ewan McGregor in Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace via Wikipedia

George Lucas, the creator of Star Wars, consulted with Campbell while making the original trilogy so the classic “hero cycle,” as scholars put it, would ring true with 20th century moviegoers.

Campbell met regularly with Carl Jung, Mircea Eliade, Karl Kerényi and other notable scholars of myth at the annual Eranos Conferences.

So this is a good example of scholarship having relevance, meeting with pop culture, and actually reaching the people—unlike some scholars who use academe as a kind of hideaway where they can enjoy the good life while doing mediocre work.

¹ Apparently there was not enough archival material to include him, and director Rian Johnson felt that a meeting of Luke Skywalker and Obi Wan played by Ewan McGregor (the second actor to portray Obi Wan) would be emotionally unsatisfying.

Related » Bhagavad-Gita, Yoda

 Star Wars: Obi-Wan Movie Gets A Gorgeous Fan-Made Poster (screenrant.com)

 Why ‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’ didn’t bring back a character fans thought they may see (businessinsider.com)

 Christian Bale Confirms He Was Almost in ‘Solo: A Star Wars Story’, Is Hopeful for Future Discussion (aceshowbiz.com)

 Obi-Wan Kenobi spin-off film to start shooting in 2019 (telegraph.co.uk)

 An All-Time Favorite Star Wars Character Makes an Epic Cameo in The Last Jedi (time.com)

 Could Star Wars-style lightsaber duelling be fitness fans’ new hope? (telegraph.co.uk)

 What Does the ‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’ Ending Mean for the Future of the Trilogy? (slashfilm.com)

 Best way to deck out for Star Wars: The Last Jedi (imore.com)

 All 9 ‘Star Wars’ movies, ranked from worst to best (mlive.com)

 This ‘Star Wars’ coat costs $1,300 (foxnews.com)


Leave a comment

Star Trek’s Prime Directive – A lofty idea with a few wrinkles

Image FET-OPEN call deadline via Twitter

In the fictional world of Star Trek, the Prime Directive is a core regulation of Starfleet. To understand what the Prime Directive means, we have to know how Star Trek depicts its moral universe.

Star Fleet officers usually see themselves as an alliance of “good guys” belonging to the United Federation of Planets, as opposed to the “bad guys” made of up species like the Cardassians and the Borg.

Starfleet is concerned about right ethics, so the Prime Directive stipulates noninterference with other species’ planetary development.

This applies to space exploration through normal time¹ and to time travel. Violating the prime directive results in court-martial, except in extenuating circumstances.

The Prime Directive sounds like a great idea but, we could ask, what exactly does “non-interference” mean?

Extreme causal loop time travel paradox animation

Extreme causal loop time travel paradox animation – Wikipedia

Religious and New Age people, for instance, tend to say that humanity is invisibly guided by advanced beings residing in the universe, astral realms, heavens and throughout time.² If so, a Federation starship crew might have a moral responsibility to help primitive but eligible species develop better ways of living.

Despite its lofty ideal of non-interference, the Prime Directive is often breached. Moral dilemmas are key to dramatic storytelling and, it goes without saying, TV ratings. In real life, St. Paul says that moral dilemmas are best solved by following the spirit instead of the letter of the law.³ So it’s not surprising that the Prime Directive is often messed with.

As any good popcorn popping cultural studies or phony entertainment critic will say, art follows life and life follows art.

A relatively novel mystery arises with The Prime Directive’s treatment of temporal paradoxes. For obvious reasons, Star Trek’s writers never fully answer the tricky question: Could a time traveler going back in time be certain what choice out of many possible choices would be best? Or, for that matter, is there a single, best choice?

English: Capt. Jean-Luc Picard as Borg Locutus...

Capt. Jean-Luc Picard as Borg Locutus – Wikipedia

Possible answers to these conundrums lead to notions of a plethora of potential outcomes and universes (to include parallel universes) and a multiverse (which differs from parallel universes).

Tantalizing cosmological questions have been posed by both mystics and subatomic physicists, but no universally agreed upon answers have been found due to their speculative nature.4

But one thing is certain. The Star Trek mythos is no silly fantasy but, rather, provides us with some of the best imaginative thinking in 20th and 21st century science fiction.

Related » Aliens, Angels, Jane Roberts, UFOs

¹ Technically, Star Trek might be at odds with reality because warp speeds are faster than the speed of light but travelers experience no time dilation. But being good sci-fi, fans are obviously willing to give the benefit of the doubt.  They weren’t as forgiving with Space 1999, which was visually interesting but a bit of a bomb.

² For some, demons try to get us off track.

³ Usually associated with St. Paul in 2 Corinthians 3:6, the idea has other applications. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Letter_and_spirit_of_the_law

4 Sometimes the speculation is forwarded as a hypothesis, which is good, healthy science or mysticism. But other times it is not, as with those claiming to have advanced knowledge that others lack. In religion and the New Age, these mentally unwell characters may be ego-inflated holy men and women or, from my experience, some religious studies professors who do their esoteric “thing” under the cover of academia. In both cases, these half-baked manipulators are blind to their own prejudices and do everything possible to convince you that they know better. Watch out!

 Star Trek Continues, The Trek Show That Fans Wanted (ansionnachfionn.com)

 Star Trek spat: Why did one Starfleet captain block another on Twitter? (mashable.com)


1 Comment

Elvis Presley – The King of Rock and Roll

Image – Wikipedia

Yeah they said you was high-classed
well, that was just a lie

– Elvis Presley, “Hound Dog”

Elvis Aaron Presley (1935-77) was an American rock and roll singer and guitarist, born in Tupelo, Mississippi. He is generally seen as the “King” of Rock and Roll.

Elvis got started singing in a church choir and taught himself how to play the guitar. Sun Records in Memphis soon discovered his talent.

By 1956 his unique combination of country/western and rhythm ‘n blues rocketed him to fame.

His provocative stage persona drove teens into a frenzy of screams, tears and fainting, like the Beatles after him.

But Elvis wasn’t just sexy, charismatic and cool. He was the man of the hour, musically and culturally.

His energized interpretations of songs and sexually provocative performance style, combined with a singularly potent mix of influences across color lines that coincided with the dawn of the Civil Rights Movement, made him enormously popular—and controversial.¹

Elvis made 45 rpm records selling in the millions, including “Heartbreak Hotel,” “Blue Suede Shoes,” “Hound Dog,” “Jailhouse Rock,” “Love Me Tender,” “It’s Now or Never,” “Are You Lonesome Tonight” and “All Shook Up,” to name a few.

Capri Club 2009 - the army home of Elvis Presley

Capri Club 2009 – the army home of Elvis Presley by jorbasa / Barbara via Flickr

On TV he appeared on the major variety shows, including The Steve Allen Show, The Ed Sullivan Show and The Frank Sinatra Timex Show.

Elvis ventured into films with Love Me Tender (1956), Loving You (1957), King Creole (1958), GI Blues (1960) and Blue Hawaii (1961), among many others.

His movie roles were secondary to his music. Apparently film directors never gave him a chance to try a dramatically significant role. Story has it that Elvis wanted to become a serious actor.

Drafted by the Army in 1958-60, his stardom was intact when he returned to the US.

But it didn’t last long. The Beatles and the “British Invasion” swarmed the continent, and Elvis’ career hit the skids. He recorded his last hit single in 1969.

In the 1970s Elvis became a nightclub performer in Las Vegas and many of his tunes took a turn to gospel. During these years he kept a loyal following, but his fan base was much smaller than in his heyday. When I was a kid (born in 62) I remember watching a Vegas era show on TV with a kind of fascinated pathos, as if I was watching a living tragedy.

Soonafter Elvis got hooked on various prescription drugs, took to unhealthy eating habits and died of an apparent overdose in 1977.

Now a legend, the King of Rock and Roll’s twilight years look much better in retrospect.² His 1968 TV appearance was miles ahead of others who would follow “unplugged” in the 80s an 90s.

Like all the greats, Elvis’ star never really faded. He’s become a global icon and admirers make pilgrimages to his home at Graceland.

Behind Mickey Mouse and Jesus Christ, he’s been cited as the third most popular figure on the planet today.

¹ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elvis_Presley

² As an adult I appreciate and enjoy his gospel tunes but as a kid they seemed lame, signifying a dead career. Funny how one’s perspective changes over time.

 Fats Domino: The quiet rock ‘n’ roll rebel who defied US segregation (scroll.in)

 An American Boy: Remembering Tom Petty (stereogum.com)

 New Elvis Presley Book Reveals Shocking Facts behind The King of Rock and Roll’s Image (prweb.com)

 People can’t stop laughing at the new Lady Gaga wax figure that looks nothing like the singer (businessinsider.com)

 Cridlin: Tom Petty was the scruffy Florida boy who helped us feel (tbo.com)

 Most Famous European Musicians (247wallst.com)

 German police retrieve 100 stolen John Lennon items (triblive.com)


2 Comments

Pisces – Something fishy here?

pisces

Pisces – Peter Tittenberger via Flickr

Before the internet most newspapers had a horoscope section. It might have been a small weekly column or a full-blown page on weekends.

Every morning my family read the local paper. I always managed to get the entertainment and sports sections. And the index. You always needed the index because that’s how you found out where your horoscope was.

Sort of an extra feature, like the comics, the horoscopes were juggled around to fit any blank space in the daily edition layout.

How times have changed… Or have they?

Horoscopes are still popular. Today people read more than a newspaper blurb. Now you can get a complete online reading if, that is, you know your date and time of birth. Press the button and the machine tells your life story.

Why are horoscopes still around?

Science generally says they’re rubbish. Christian theologians don’t like astrology much either (although Hindus consult astrologers during wedding ceremonies).

It seems there’s a middle ground between science and religion that appeals to the public. Something like myth and fantasy. I guess that’s where horoscopes come in.

Anatomical Man in the Duke Berry's Très Riches...

Anatomical Man in the Duke Berry’s Très Riches Heures (Photo: Wikipedia)

Whenever updating the astrology entries at Earthpages.ca I feel like a bit of a fraud. I’ll be honest. I don’t really believe in astrology any longer. Not sure if I ever did.

I know some people do believe and I respect that. We’re all different with unique paths. But for me, the power of God and the Holy Spirit makes any kind of “cosmic force” look small. It’s not that I don’t believe in cosmic forces. I do. It’s just a question of magnitude and relevance.

Let’s for a moment concede that cosmic forces affect the psyche. But what about God, the creator of those cosmic forces? God is infinitely larger and more powerful than any influence of Jupiter or Neptune.

Some astrology believers just don’t get this. They see God as the sum of the observable cosmos, known to thinkers like me as natural pantheism.

Still don’t see what I’m saying?

Let’s try this. Instead of the cosmos acting on mind and body, how about something more immediate, like nutrition.

Most people agree that nutrition is important. The substances we ingest directly influence our minds and overall health. But that’s not the whole story. Jesus of the New Testament tells us that we don’t live on bread alone. It’s the “alone” part that matters. There’s something more. Christians call it the Holy Spirit.

Likewise with astrology. We are not influenced by creation, alone. There’s more. The Creator of creation. Simple as that.

Take another analogy. God made the wind which, although invisible, is a powerful force. I believe in the wind from seeing, hearing, feeling and sometimes smelling its perceptible effects.

However, any good sailor can tack into the wind. We don’t have to be blown around just because the wind exists.

God gave us a mind and the ability to choose.

Well, enough preamable. Rather than rewrite my existing entry on Pisces, I’ll just tweak it.

No need to perpetuate the charade. I don’t believe in astrology. Life is too complex and ambiguous to be boiled down to an arbitrary theory. I’m not saying astrology is totally false. Cosmic forces no doubt exist. And astrology has entertainment, mythic and historical value. But to invest too much in it, I think, falls somewhere between spirituality and superstition.

A juvenile distraction, fine. But for spiritual adults, one hopefully moves on.

Pisces (February 19 – March 21) is the twelfth and a winter sign of the zodiac, symbolized by the fish and associated with the planetary rulers of Neptune and Jupiter. Its element is water.

Astrologers say that from Neptune, Pisces longs for a return to the primal waters; that is, a plunge into the underworld depths of the collective unconscious.

From Jupiter, Pisces is youthful, with all the pros and cons accompanying adolescence.  Astrologers say Pisceans are gentle but with fits of rashness, even cruelty.

Sometimes passive and lazy, Pisceans apparently alternate between lethargy and spells of vigor, enthusiasm and hope.

Prominent Pisces include Johnny Cash, Billy Crystal,  Elizabeth Taylor, Rihanna, Albert Einstein and Justin Bieber.

Pisces – The book of birth of Iskandar – Wikipedia

Related » Astrology

 Astrology lovers will rejoice over these freckle tattoos (mashable.com)

 Your November Horoscope! by Crystal “Kitty” Shimski (twocoatsofpaint.com)

 Boom time for fortune-tellers and tarot card readers in Italy as economic crisis bites (telegraph.co.uk)

 Venus-Jupiter Conjunction 2017: When, Where and How to See It (space.com)

 Mood Ring Is the New Bushwick Bar Inspired by Astrology and Hong Kong Cinema (grubstreet.com)


4 Comments

The Pyramids – Afterlife portals or symbols of worldly power?

Inside the Pyramid

Inside the Pyramid: Ricardo Liberato via Flickr

Pyramids are really just a big billboard that says “the richest guy in Egypt is buried here” – Quora

In the 1976 playoffs the Toronto Maple Leafs made it to the semi-finals against the Philadelphia Flyers. This was pretty rare back then because the Leafs had been floundering for years. The fad at the time was pyramid power. All along the Leaf bench pyramids could be seen. The club thought it was bringing them good luck. They lost anyhow.

A couple of years later the British musician Alan Parsons released an album called Pyramid. Pink Floyd had already released Dark Side of the Moon (1973) with a prism – a miniature pyramid – on the album cover.

Pyramids had taken off in pop culture. They moved from an esoteric curiosity to a commercially viable symbol.  Soon after, the 80s New Age movement put a new spin on everything weird and wacky associated with the Egyptian and Mesoamerican pyramids. And whatever was said, there was always a price tag on it. That is, something to buy—a workshop, book or cassette tape.

Louvre – Paris

A whole new mythology about the Egyptian and Mesoamerican pyramids was born in the 70s and 80s. It was a myth intricately linked to consumerism, as we find today.

We only have to turn on the TV or search the web to find out how ETs built the pyramids with special tech unavailable even in the 21st century. Or we might discover some elaborate theory about the End Times, allegedly predicted by the geometry and placement of the pyramids.

Fantastic scenarios aside, it is true that nobody is entirely sure how the Egyptians moved those huge stone blocks. A prevailing theory maintains that wooden sleds were hauled over wetted sand, the added water reducing friction.

What we do have is clear archaeological evidence, through graffiti, that real human work gangs with specific names – like Toronto Maple Leafs or Philadelphia Flyers – not only did the hauling but took pride in their achievement.

So much for ETs and their laser beams.

Aztec human sacrifice, art circa 16th century – Wikipedia

New Age pundits glorifying the pyramids also tend to overlook or rationalize the fact that in Mesoamerica these structures were used for human sacrifice. Moreover, pyramids in Egypt were built for the Pharaoh, not the common people. Egyptian rulers believed a pyramid would facilitate their transit to the afterword. But commoners didn’t get a pyramid of their own. Only those with money could afford such a royal link to the afterlife.

So much for the glory.

Admittedly, the pyramids are impressive. But so is the Roman Colosseum. And we know what went down there. Feeding live Christians to lions. Sickening… nay, horrifying.

The pyramids were mostly about two things: Worldly power and a selfish desire to attain personal immortality. Foreign visitors to Egypt wrote that the pyramids inspired not only awe but fear. These structures spoke clearly about who had power and what would happen if the average gal or guy stepped out of line.

Carl Jung, a Swiss depth psychologist, tends to gloss over the cultural context of historical symbols like the pyramids in favor of developing his theory of the collective unconscious. This isn’t necessary wrong but I think it is incomplete.

Jung believes the architectural similarities among the Egyptian and Mesoamerican pyramids support his concepts of the archetypes and the collective unconscious. However, Raymond Firth questions Jung’s archetypal theory. Firth says any symbol, be it a pyramid, a totem pole or a national flag, conveys as many possible meanings as there are individuals to interpret it.¹

This debate brings to mind the philosophical problem about innate psychological structures vs. regional and individual forms of creativity. Jung had his own way of resolving this issue by differentiating the archetype proper (common, underlying structure) from the archetypal image (cultural expression of that structure). But something still seems a bit too easy with his theory.

Jung, himself, admitted that he didn’t have it all figured out.

So full marks for his honesty.

¹ An anthropologist, Firth emphasizes the immediate, sociological aspects of symbols while not negating the possibility of deeper levels of meaning. See Raymond Firth, Symbols: Public and Private, New York: Allen and Unwin, 1973. Postmoderns like Jacques Derrida would agree with Firth on multiple interpretation. Symbols connote countless meanings. Rarely is anything actually denoted. And even if it is, there is always room for connotation.

Related » Alien Possession Theory, Archaeology, Atlantis, Aztecs, Mythic Identification, Mythic Inflation, Mythic Subordination, Sir William Matthew Flinders Petrie


4 Comments

Persephone – What can we learn for her plight?

Leighton depicts Hermes helping Persephone to ...

Leighton depicts Hermes helping Persephone to return to her mother Demeter after Zeus forced Hades to return Persepone. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Persephone [Greek Persephone: maiden] is a Greek fertility and underworld goddess, born of Zeus and Demeter.

She is also called Kore [Greek: the girl or maiden]. In Roman myth her equivalent is often cited as Proserpina, with her mother Demeter is Ceres.

Brief Sketch

In the Homeric Hymn to Demeter Persephone is out gathering flowers from a field in Sicily. Suddenly she’s abducted by Hades, the King of the underworld.

Accompanied by a litter of pigs to Hades’ gloomy abode, she is tricked by the dark King into eating pomegranate seeds. Even though she is tricked, Persephone is also punished. She must stay in the land of the dead for, depending on the account, three to eight months each year.

Persephone is not only raped by but also marries Hades. This makes her Queen of the underworld. Homer writes that she mediates between two worlds, the land of the living and the land of the dead. One of her primary duties is to deliver curses to the dead from the living.¹

persephone rising

Persephone Rising by Eddie van W. via Flickr

This kind of story and the notion of an eating/food taboo is so widespread that it arguably supports Jung’s idea of archetypes and the collective unconscious.

S. G. F. Brandon, in his Dictionary of Comparative Religion, says Persephone is linked to the Eleusinian Mysteries and figures in Orphism.² And some contemporary writers believe her myth exemplifies the ethos of the Eleusinian and Orphic mysteries.

Psychological Interpretation

The mythographer Joseph Campbell  elaborates on Persephone’s link with the ancient mystery cults. In a somewhat Jungian style, Campbell believes we can gain esoteric knowledge by risking madness within the depths of the collective unconscious. Some do not survive the experience, and like an ocean diver who dives too deep, they do not make it back to the surface.

It seems that some people do, in fact, become gripped by so-called archetypal forces of the unconscious.

The Extramural Sanctuary of Demeter and Persep...

The Extramural Sanctuary of Demeter and Persephone at Cyrene, Libya (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Again following Jung, one unfortunate outcome occurs when the ego identifies with a psycho-spiritual presence (numinosity) it has discovered and begins to assume the role of the “holy teacher.” Or perhaps in a more Darth Vader kind of scenario, the “holy ruler.”³

We can usually discern false or immature “teachers,” “leaders” and “rulers” when they do not admit to their mistakes and, perhaps, go to any lengths to cover them up. To be human is to err. And whenever someone cannot admit or tries to hide their human imperfection, it should raise a red flag to any sane, sober observer.

Agricultural Interpretation

A more down-to-earth view sees Persephone’s yearly rise and fall as coinciding with the ancient grain crops that thrived in the growing season and yet died when stored underground for the off-season. But considering Persephone is also linked to mystery cults, this view only accounts for half the story.

¹ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Persephone

² Dictionary of Comparative Religion (New York: Scribner’s and Sons, 1970, p. 493).

³ I once had a professor who came to Canada from a communist land who was a bit like the latter. Although his abilities seemed impressive at first, in retrospect he doesn’t look so great. More like a backward, third-rate scholar who tries to control others through fear and intimidation.

Related » Death and Resurrection

 Roman coins show evidence of Hannibal’s defeat, scientists say (telegraph.co.uk)

 Cyclops and Dragon Tongues: How Real Fossils Inspired Giant Myths (livescience.com)

 Exploring the Japanese Roots of ‘Star Wars’ (slashfilm.com)