Persephone Rising and Androgynous Wholeness

Mythic narratives often portray characters whose stories mirror our own, just as our own archetypal configuration can mirror that of the society in which we live. In the story of Demeter and Persephone that is the basis of Persephone Rising, Zeus is chief of all the gods, but lacks appreciation for the goddesses and some of the other gods. The result is a famine that sweeps the earth because he offends Demeter, the Earth Mother and goddess of motherly love and caring. So too in our time, where Zeus values of achievement, competition, money, and status predominate, crowding out other “gods” and “goddesses” important to happiness and success—two of which carry traditionally feminine qualities and another, traditionally male traits. Demeter’s focus on care at least gets lip service, but tends to be relegated to a secondary role and often assigned more to women than men. Persephone’s emphasis on deeper self-awareness and self-knowledge and being guided by love gets little attention, and Dionysus’s focus on embodied joy is relegated to Saturday night and vacations, if those. The following is a dysfunctional medicine wheel that too often illustrates our relationship to outer demands and what this does to our inner life.

The result of an imbalanced culture can be a fragmented inner life. Instead of experiencing satisfying wholeness and fulfillment, too many of us go through life frantically multitasking, especially those who are balancing demanding jobs with parenting, which together take every bit of time we have. As a result, we are left with little or no time to care for our own bodies and souls, or for simple enjoyment.medicine-wheel

The androgynous potential available to us today allows each of us to discover our ideal mix of these four elements, so that we can live fulfilling and successful lives. To do this, we must find our own unique way of balancing the attitudes of Demeter with those of Zeus. Such a balance is necessary for us to be good, caring people who also look out for themselves. When qualities of Persephone and Dionysus complete our inner mandalas, the result is that we feel joy and a sense of freedom. That also is when we experience our own medicine wheel, as we connect with our outer world out of a more coherent sense of inner integrity and presence.

Your Personal Mandala Exercise

You can print the following mandala, provided free from, and color it in with you at the center of the circle.

  • Assign a basic color to each of the four archetypes: Demeter, Zeus, Persephone, and Dionysus.
  • Imagine the four quadrants as major areas of your life (such as home, work, recreation, personal development) and decide which will be in the upper right, upper left, lower left, or lower right.
  • Take a few minutes to reflect on what you want each area of your life to be like.
  • Finally, consider these four archetypes and how each contributes to any given quadrant, Then color that quadrant with a blend of the colors you choose to represent the archetypes with a goal of illustrating the mix of their archetypal energies that you want in each dimension of your life.

I recommend printing two copies and coloring in one before reading Persephone Rising and one afterward. (You also might find other mandalas on the site that appeal to you.) This playful exercise actually is a way to get your conscious mind to communicate with your unconscious to learn what your wishes are.