Friday, February 16, 2007

Persephone, Goddess of the Dead

In creating my second fragrance, Unreleased Mix aka Persephone, I have done much soul-searching to find out who Persephone is and what her role in today's society might be. Before there were horror films, there was mythology. Most ancient myths are pretty similar, even the ones I grew up hearing being Japanese. Persephone is a Greek goddess who is abducted by Hades, the god of hell, or the Greco-Roman underworld. This is how the goddess of spring (daughter of Demeter) becomes the Queen of the Underworld. Some say she is originally a Roman (Sicilian) goddess named Proserpina, meaning "prosperity". The twist in this classic tale that I find disturbing (aside from the obvious) is that Persephone and Hades are known as one of the most loving couples in ancient Western mythology. I wonder if this myth is a joke on women, to say, "You see? One moment you resisted me; next, you absolutely loved being taken by me. Now, look at your prosperous life--you get to go on vacation every spring to see your mother, and then for a few months out of the year you get to serve me, your love. Not a bad deal, eh?".

Many people will defend such a myth saying it's harmless (and even necessary) escapism, that reality and fantasy are not really one, even if the creators of such myths once believed that life imitates myth (Plato's "forms" and all that...very much karmic and "law of attraction" in concept). The rape myth is a myth about violence against women, and therefore not a healthy form of escapism to me. I believe the myth is still around to deliberately confuse impulses. The marriage of philosophy and "science" was a big trend back then, was it not? The patriarchal culture of "science of the mind" (or, theories applied to reality by men in a quest for Truth) has brought us many myths that are sexist from the start, because men didn't see women as anything other than extensions of themselves, not real, separate human beings with minds of their own. Why do we defend this myth today, unless 1. we're adamant about being able to fantasize about violence without anyone telling us what we should or shouldn't think (and therefore consequence becomes a non-issue) and 2. if it didn't have some heavy historical, cultural importance or redeeming quality in Western society (and what would that be, exactly)?

If she is a figure of temptation, all she had to do to be a temptress was be there. The question then becomes, was it her fault or is she exempt from fault by being a non-being, much like how some say children and animals are exempt from karma because they can't will anything to happen to them (having no "will" or ego, only "willingness")? I also believe Persephone, being the goddess of the underworld and the dead, is an example of the deadness we as women were to cultivate inside, so we can be supressed emotionally and psychologically, and be more submissive (and willing--to accept anything men do). Are we quiet enough yet? No, not till we're dead enough inside. Are we supposed to continue to cultivate this aesthetic today as modern women? Should we just sit back and enjoy the story and call it "romantic" because it plays on our emotions? Shall we dismiss it all as just another example of mindless, silly entertainment for the rich?