Today I spent a good part of the day talking with an old friend who lives in Gulf Shores, Alabama, where they have had the floods of a century. The rain fell almost 19 inches in a few days in some parts and Faye was describing how fast it crept in and up and up, wiping out river banks, houses, trees, animals and people. There were so many lightning strikes, the instruments couldn’t keep up with them. Here where I live, the spring has been more than usually beautiful. We’ve had a lot of storms, too, but gentler.
Spring, as you know, is married to the Lord of the Dead, Spring is the consort of Death. In the springtime, I hate to bring that up, but inspired by her ravishing of me this year, I’ve been working on the third piece of my Recombinant DNA performance cycle, which is about the marriage of Spring and Death, Persephone and Pluto, so I’ve been writing about her ravishment.
The myths are descriptions of reality, they are lists and explications of correspondences, so the marriage of Spring and the Lord of the Dead is an image of the set-up we’ve got. Our task is to understand their marriage as the conditions under which we live.
In the stories themselves, though Hades inspires fear, he doesn’t particularly act in a fear-inducing way, he isn’t cruel, only implacable. I’ve come to see him more as the guardian of the dead. He accepts absolutely everyone with no exceptions, everyone has a place in his kingdom. It is actually Persephone who has the face that makes the blood run hot and cold. As the daughter of Demeter, the cornucopia of the biosphere, Persephone’s beauty was as world-changing as Helen’s. She wears whatever face pleases her, the face of Spring, the face of horror, the face of the mother of the dead, the queen of the dead, the queen of emerging green, the face of flowers.
Think of it, Spring has offered to be the mother of your death. That green golden budding flower will greet you at the door, will meet you at the river, more beautiful than Helen, a sister to Psyche, to Soul itself.
Carl Jung gave this advice in The Red Book: …turn to the dead, listen to their lament and accept them with love. That is surely for us to do, but every day that is also what Spring and Death, Mr and Mrs Hades, do, they listen and accept us all.
image: detail from Pluto and Proserpina by Gian Lorenzo Bernini