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Goddess in the Wheel of the Year
by Fiana Sidhe
Beltane 2002, Vol 1-3
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Kore as a plant in bloom
Watercolor © Fiana Sidhe 2002. All rights reserved.
Kore, Blossoming Earth

As the new sprouts peek their heads out from the soil, so does the Goddess Kore surface from the underworld in the Spring. Kore is the Goddess Persephone in her maiden form, when she joins her mother and tends the Earth. The name Kore itself means maiden or virgin. In regards to Kore and many other Goddesses, the word virgin does not hold the same patriarchal meaning that it holds in today’s society. Iinstead it means a woman belonging only to, or true only to herself.

When Persephone sheds her cloak of darkness and her half-year reign of the underworld, she returns to the world as the blossoming Earth, and she spends her time doing what she loves. From Kore we all can learn that there are certain times that we must uphold our obligations and do our true duties, but we must never forget the importance of taking time to stop and smell the flowers, and taking time to find our own little escapes or freedoms

First Flowers of the Season -- Beyond the Cave of Winter
Digital Art based on photo of Feral's Garden © Copyright Sage Starwalker, 2002. All rights reserved.

Most people know the basic story of Persephone. The maiden or virgin Kore was out picking the flower narcissus, when the earth opened and out came Hades, God of the underworld. Hades had long been admiring the beautiful Kore, and wished to make her his bride, so he took her to the underworld. For nine days Kore stayed in the underworld with Hades, and neither ate nor drank anything til hunger got the best of her and finally she ate some pomegranate seeds. Then her mother Demeter and her father Zeus came to rescue her from the underworld, but the only way she could return was if she hadn’t consumed anything while in the underworld. She had eaten the seeds of the pomegranate, but since she had eaten so little, Zeus declared that Persephone would spend half the year in the underworld with her husband Hades, and the remaining half of the year, on earth with her mother.

This is the very commonly known myth of Kore, often titled The Rape of Persephone. Many people first learn Persephone’s story in their high school English classes, where very little attention is paid to all the symbolism in her tale. Did the rise of patriarchal religion change the story of Kore from a love story into a rape to make the man, Hades, seem powerful? The symbolism of Hades himself was changed by the rise of patriarchal religion. He was originally a useful God of death, a very natural thing, but then became seen as the devil, the evil lord of darkness and the underworld. Are the pomegranate seeds that Kore took into herself symbolic of the seeds of Hades himself? For nine days Kore stayed in the underworld, torn between the expectations of her mother, Demeter, and the expectations of her love, Hades. Finally Kore followed her own heart and took in Hades' seed, therefore binding herself to her lover.

Lord Leighton's art entitled The Return of Persephone
The Return of Persephone
Frederick, Lord Leighton, Courtesy of CGFA.

Since this new bond Kore made was just as strong as the bond between herself and her mother, she chose them both and became a Goddess of both realms, spending half the year with her lover in the underworld, and half the year with her mother on earth. She became a Goddess of life and death. In life, she is the creator, the fertilizer of the womb and the earth. In death, she is queen of the underworld, killing the very things that she had created, so that when she is reborn, they may be as well. She is a Goddess of regeneration, taking life then recreating it. Kore brings the spirits down into the darkness, then guides them back to the light. She herself is the very life for which she holds responsibility. She is the grain and the blossoms, and in spring she sprouts then grows. When summer reaches it’s end, her physical life dies and Kore returns to her place in the underworld. She reveals the positive side of death, showing us that everything must come to an end so that new things may be born.

Kore is a triple goddess, the maiden, the mother and the crone all within one goddess. She is the maiden when she is on earth sharing duties with her mother, Demeter, living wild and free, and belonging only to herself. She is mother to all her creations, and does not let death stop her mothering, instead she is there for them through every step of life and death. She is the sage old crone who rules over death and the underworld, and knows all the secrets and mysteries of life and death.

During this planting and blossoming season consider adding the flower narcissus to your garden or home, to honor Kore. Also sacred to Kore are bats, willows, grain, corn and pomegranate. Like her mother Demeter, Kore is often depicted with a torch, crown, scepter, and stalks of grain. From Kore we learn about survival, overcoming obstacles, and the importance of rest.

field of narcissus in bloom
courtesy J. L. Akers

+ Ariadne’s Thread, a Workbook of Goddess Magic, Shekhinah Mountainwater
+ Whence the Goddess, Miriam Robbins Dexter
+ The Ancient and Shining Ones, D.J. Conway

Further Reading
For a lovely new twist on Kore’s Myth check out

+ Gernot Katzer's Pomegranate Page
+ Demeter and Kore by Jennifer Brown,
Goddess Worship in Ancient Greece
+ Spretnak, Charlene. Lost Goddesses of Early Greece. Boston: Beacon Press, 1992.

Graphics Credits
+ Kore, Watercolor © Fiana Sidhe 2002. All rights reserved.
+ The
Return of Persephone, Frederick, Lord Leighton, Courtesy of CGFA.
First Flowers of the Season -- Beyond the Cave of Winter, Digital Art based on Photo of Feral's Garden © Copyright Sage Starwalker, 2002. All rights reserved.
+ field of narcissus in bloom, courtesy J. L. Akers

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