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Persephone, Hades, and The Autumn Equinox

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By Preethi Mangadu
Web Content Contributor

The Autumn Equinox is approaching on Sept. 22nd. This day is known as the start of fall, but it was symbolic of many things in the past.

The Autumn Equinox was commonly used to celebrate the summer’s harvest as seen in harvest festivals in Great Britain, the Moon festival in many East and Southeast Asian countries, Mabon in Neopagan practices, and more. However, other celebrations focus on spirits, gods, and mythologies such as Higan in Japan and the Roman festival for Pomona, goddess of fruit trees, gardens, and orchards.

The most infamous myth behind this day is that the autumn equinox occurs when Persephone descends to the Underworld and her husband, Hades. Though their tale has been popularized through the Lore Olympus comics, let’s talk about the Greek mythology behind it.

Being almost poplar opposite gods, you wouldn’t think that Hades’s, the God of the Underworld, and Persephone’s, the Goddess of Spring, paths wouldn’t cross with each other, but Hades was once looking up at the world above him and noticed Persephone and instantly fell in love with her. From then on, he continued to observe her, secretly.

One day, he decided to ask Zeus, who was Persephone’s father and the God of the Sky and Thunder, for her hand in marriage, and Zeus agreed. Nonetheless, Demeter, Persephone’s mother and the Goddess of Agriculture, would not agree to this union, so a plan was hatched.

While Persephone was performing her duties one day, she noticed a yellow narcissus flower, which was said to only grow in the Underworld. A hole opened up in the earth when she picked it, and out came Hades with his black chariot pulled by black stallions. He then abducted her in that spot and took her to his realm.

In the Underworld, Hades treated her well, showered her with anything she could want and made sure she knew she was an equal. At her request, he even created a realm for those souls who were better than the rest called Elysium.

While there, Persephone knew not to eat anything because, if she did, she would have to stay. Nonetheless, she was starving, and, one day, a gardener offered her a pomegranate, so she ate six seeds.

Above ground, Demeter was livid. She caused famine on Earth and let many humans die so that Hades would release her daughter. Hermes, known as a messenger for the gods and a god in his own right, told Hades, and Hades let him take Persephone to Mount Olympus.

After much arguing between Persephone, Demeter, and Hades, Zeus declared that Persephone must stay in the Underworld for six months since she ate six pomegranate seeds.

In the end, Greek mythology states when Persephone goes to the Underworld for these six months on the autumn equinox, the world turns bitter and cold as Demeter mourns, creating fall and winter.

Featured Image by Preethi Mangadu

Written by: ktsw899

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