Review of Persephone Rising: Awakening the Heroine Within

By Ginette Paris, Ph.D., author of Wisdom of the Psyche (Routledge 2015)

There are as many interpretations of any given myth as there are individuals. The most useful interpretation is one that sparks the imagination and teaches us something important. With stories as “big” as that of Demeter and Persephone, or Zeus or Dionysus, one needs a really gifted interpreter. Carol Pearson is one: she uses those four archetypes as a map of human qualities that everyone, man or woman, should develop to live the good life.

Her most powerful chapters are those about the maternal power of Demeter. In fact, the whole tone of the book is like a long letter from the archetypal Mother. Her voice is soft, compassionate and intelligent.

Pearson shows how an individual can lead from the maternal archetype; it means to really care for people, not only in our private sphere, but also in the workplace. The new model of leadership includes both Demeter (caring) and Zeus (authority). Those leaders are the hope for the future of both family life and career development. For this to happen, one needs to understand the source of Zeus’s arrogance (the excess of patriarchy), and learn to carry authority while collaborating rather than trying to control everyone and everything. The archetypal Mother is giving a warning: “Calm down Zeus. Yes, you are the boss, but if you fail to take into account Demeter’s points of view, your whole business will fail!”

A partnership between Zeus and Demeter also makes room for the archaic energy of life symbolized by Dionysus: the pure joy of having a body capable of ecstasy. Without joy in your life, the soul dries up and shrivels. To have a good balance of archetypal energies, Carol Pearson invites one more character onto the psychic stage: young Persephone, whom she interprets like an Underworld Aphrodite. Persephone, the young maiden, needs to grow up if she is to become a queen. Her youthful, sexual energy is needed, even in the realm of the underworld.

Carol Pearson is known for her prodigious capacity to interpret ancient myths to suggest answers to contemporary issues. The interplay between those four actors constitutes a kind of mandala of mental health. Persephone Rising is a message from a wise woman, warning her children that the feminist revolution is an unfinished business. Without a renewed connection to nature, in the actual imbalance of masculine /feminine virtues we fail to connect with the larger universe and risk living a life in the mirror of the selfie. Her message is uplifting: we are indeed very small specks in a big Universe; it is bearable only if we can help each other make a difference in the way human affairs are conducted.

 Photo G for Frog_face0Ginette Paris, Ph.D., is the author of several books that exemplify the need for a deep psychology, one of which is Wisdom of the Psyche: Depth Psychology after Neuroscience (Routledge 2010, 2015). This second edition of Heartbreak, Mourning, Loss , in two volumes, conjoins depth psychology with insights from neuroscience. She teaches and lectures in US, Canada and Europe. Her books have been translated in French, Spanish, Italian, German, Portugese and Russian.
books-persophone-rising

Persephone Rising: Awakening the Heroine Within

Persephone Rising is a revelatory modern manifesto that speaks to the heroine in every woman, offering potent strategies—drawn from the archetypes inherent in the ancient Greek myth of Demeter and Persephone—to forge lives of greater happiness and fulfillment.

Purchase Now Learn More
books-persophone-rising

Persephone Rising: Awakening the Heroine Within

Persephone Rising is a revelatory modern manifesto that speaks to the heroine in every woman, offering potent strategies—drawn from the archetypes inherent in the ancient Greek myth of Demeter and Persephone—to forge lives of greater happiness and fulfillment.

Purchase Now Learn More