Persephone is padding barefoot up the cold hill from Hades, flowers and herbs woven into her wheat-coloured hair. The earth quickens under her feet, seeds crack open, greenery thrusts tenacious fingers through the topsoil. It is the vernal equinox, and Persephone has emerged, blushing and breathless, from her dark kingdom below.
The Queen of the Underworld might, at first, seem like an unlikely candidate to breathe new life into the earth. But her deep-seated darkness is precisely why she’s the perfect woman for the job. Most life cannot grow with only sunlight to feed it. Life also needs dark, damp, rich soil to thrive.
We are no different from nature. We need both darkness and light to grow. Persephone is the personification of this fertile balance, and with her reappearance from Hades we can honour that which is unsavory, uncomfortable, and challenging, but ultimately healthy and fruitful.
Women, for too long, have been denied darkness. We’ve been told to file down our teeth, that our anger, frustration, despair, and grief are unsightly and displeasing. Unfeminine. Inappropriate. Indulgent. Our spiritual lives are bombarded with messages of pure love and cleansing light, and our darkness is treated as a disease to cure or a dragon to vanquish.
But by stifling the wild creature of our darkness, we also extinguish the magic of our light. Do not fear your night sky. It has lessons for you, hard truths, good medicine.
True and effective self-care is balance. It is giving your inner she-wolf her hunting grounds. It letting her howl mournfully at the moon, letting her kill and feed and tear sinew from bone. This is how she survives. This is how you survive.
Without darkness, we do not have the power to carry our light. Anger fuels conviction. Grief begets compassion. Frustration leads us to renewal. You are a microcosm of the chaotic, explosive universe, and you must honour and harness these forces or they will someday destroy you. Your darkness is the source of your strength, your wisdom, and your intuition. It is a vital half of your life force.
When we learn to love our darkness, we can embrace what we truly are – sulfur and ash, amethyst and starlight. Blood and breastmilk. Feather and claw. Beautifully whole.
Twice a year, the day and the night hold equal dominion. Today’s vernal equinox is a time to honour the part your darkness plays in birthing your light.
Spend time in the wilderness of your heart today. Name your darkness, set free that she-wolf. How can you honour her? What lessons does she hold for you? How can she fuel your light? What is she trying to help you bring forth?
At dusk, channel Persephone and greet the spring with a long soak in healing, fragrant herbs – folklore prescribes lavender for renewal, thyme for strength, and sage for wisdom.
Vernal Equinox Bath Soak
What you’ll need:
Sprigs of thyme
Cheesecloth or muslin
1. Toss a generous handful of each ingredient into a drawstring muslin bag or onto a square of doubled cheesecloth. Tie the corners together securely to create a parcel.
2. Submerge this fragrant, magical parcel into a steaming bath.
Use this sacred hour of self-care to recognize and thank your darkness, those long-condemned and oft-repressed forces that work so hard to spark your divine glow. You are a whole person. Hades and Gaia. Soil and sunlight. Listen to your darkness and watch the good things grow.