With a new preface by the author relevant to the current political and cultural moment

Persephone Rising: Awakening the Heroine Within

JUST IN TIME, this revelatory manifesto speaks to the heroine in every woman and man, offering potent strategies drawn from ancient Greek wisdom that can help us find happiness even in today’s unfinished social revolution. Four archetypal plotlines—two feminine, two masculine—chart this path toward greater life satisfaction.


Each year, the Nautilus Book Awards are given to books that carry a powerful message aimed at making the world a better place. I’m honored to announce that PERSEPHONE RISING has won a gold award in category 27—books for women! Click to see the full list.

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In this empowering work, Carol S. Pearson, the bestselling author of The Hero Within and Awakening the Heroes Within, reveals how the Demeter and Persephone story uncannily mirrors cultural and political dramas being played out today before our very eyes, and then shows how these conflicts could be resolved. In the myth, the earth mother wins a power struggle with a patriarchal god, thereby ending a famine (think climate change) that threatens human survival. As this is occurring, a youthful goddess gains her freedom, asserting gender partnership and equality, and as a result gives birth to joy and celebration.


The archetypal figures and narratives that galvanize attention in the public world also activate them within us as individuals. The challenge, then, is to live these stories wisely, shifting their expression within us and thus influencing our collective future for the better. The example of the four major mythic characters illustrates how readers can move from feeling powerless to purposeful, disrespected to esteemed, trapped to free, and anxious to joyful.

Drawing on her profound understanding of myth’s enduring power to catalyze such transformations, Pearson guides readers of Persephone Risingon a journey of self-discovery, teaching us how to apply lessons from Demeter and Persephone, as well as Zeus and Dionysus, in our own lives—examples that reveal unexpected choices and opportunities available to us all.

Illuminating ancient wisdom for a modern audience, Persephone Rising offers profound and powerful strategies to answer the call to heroism in our own lives: to locate and harness the unique potential within each of us, and ultimately to develop our own innate heroic gifts. Just as Demeter and Persephone discovered, in the midst of great difficulty, their own powers, gifts, and abilities for blazing a better path not only for themselves, but also for the world, Persephone Rising teaches that each one of us has more options than choosing whether to lean in or out—we have the power to change ourselves, and thus our world.

Praise for Persephone Rising:

  • For many of us women, the story of Demeter and Persephone is the most challenging and illuminating of all myths. Each of us retells it in her own way, a way that reflects what it means to her. Carol Pearson’s rich revisioning focuses on Persephone’s rising, on her return to the upper world as emblematic of the power inherent in all of us to move beyond failure and conflict to lives filled with joy, fearlessness, and abundance. Wisely, she recognizes that the deepest message this myth conveys comes from attending to all the archetypal energies represented in it, not just Persephone but also Demeter, Zeus, and Dionysus.

    Christine DowningAuthor of The Long Journey Home
  • Pearson writes with an eye toward empowering women, not by disparaging men, but by pointing us in the direction of our lost history…. Her work has always been an exploration of the flowers that bloom through the cracks in the sidewalk. It would appear that those flowers, and Pearson herself, are now positioned for a spectacular moment in the sun.

    Anna JedrziewskiRetailing Insight
  • Persephone Rising spoke to my bone marrow—its truths resonating with clarity and power. A beautiful retelling and updating of these ancient archetypes—so relevant today.

    Christiane NorthrupMD, OB/GYN, and author of the New York Times bestseller Goddesses Never Age
  • Carol S. Pearson does a remarkable job of weaving together stories from Greek myths with profound metaphors, practical leadership applications, existing literature, and strategies for inner growth and development. In this carefully crafted book, leadership lessons emerge for women in any life circumstance on topics such as resilience, courage, connectedness, caring, joy, finding passions, and taking action. Pearson’s work can help women understand themselves more deeply to find their heroine within!

    Susan R. MadsenFounder, Women & Leadership Affinity Group, International Leadership Association
  • “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.”

    Ginette Paris, PhDAuthor of Wisdom of the Psyche
  • Readers “run with the wolves” and more as Pearson addresses readers’ inherent heroine potential in this beautifully realized effort to present and analyze the powerful ancient Greek myth of Demeter and her daughter, Persephone, abducted by the underworld god, Hades. Pearson decodes the archetypal basis of the Eleusinian Mysteries, secret annual rituals associated with the myth provide readers with “a virtual initiation” into ancient, sacred, unwritten knowledge that protected the rites from dogma, rules, and censorship. She illuminates anthropologists’ findings at a Cretan initiation site and shares literary and philosophical writings about the era to support her call to revive innate inner strengths and universal connections between women and men in accord with their empowerment. Primal archetypes Demeter, Zeus, Persephone, and Dionysus also provide Pearson with material for integrative lessons meant to encourage life transformation via the power of story. Pearson’s accessible style bridges the scholarly and the mainstream, analysis and practice.
    Whitney ScottReviewer,
Click here to read a free excerpt