Every time I see these flowers, I think of the story of a sweet girl, Kore, who was princess of the flowers and helped them to bloom through the year. She fell asleep in a field of opium poppy flowers and as she slept, lulled into dreams of faraway lands, the King of the Underworld climbed up to the surface through a deep crevice--a cave!-- near fields. He saw the sleeping girl, and struck by her innocence, he succumbed to his urges and carried her away, down into the heart of the underworld. He protected her as she slept, but he knew the Underworld was filled with danger and that ultimately he could not keep her there unless she wanted to be. He wanted to learn from her innocent, to remember again the precious nature of an un-jaded of life.
When Kore awoke, she saw a huge feasting table, and the dark, powerful king. On the table were fruits and meats of kinds she had never before seen. The King told her, “You are in the place where the dead go. Time is endless here. Laws bend. The good are happy. Those who have betrayed Love, suffer until they forgive themselves. This is my domain. If you stay, I will teach you and show you things you will never, ever see in the world you have come to know and love.”
For as bright and innocent as Kore was, the King was equally worn with the experiences of life and afterlife. When she looked at the King, and at the feasting table, she understood that her very life was at stake. But the lure of the unknown was so strong… Who TRULY wants to feel safe ALL THE TIME?
Leaning forward, Kore ate just 6 seeds of a pomegranate. This part of the story is immortalized in myth, for she, later known as the Goddess Persephone, was made to stay in the underworld for every six months of the year after that, causing--along with her mother the Grain Goddess and Great Mother Demeter--the seasons as we know them.
What the stories leave out is how those seeds tasted! The first seed tasted like blood, but when it burst in her mouth, she tasted the sweetness of mortal life as she (a young innocent goddess) would never know it. The second seed tasted like menses, and when it burst in her mouth, she tasted the sweetness of lovemaking and the magic of childbirth. The third seed tasted like pain of separation and reunion, as only the passion of the blood dictates. And when the pulp burst in her mouth, she fell in love with the King, for she understood how important his role was to life. With each seed, she knew she could never go back to a life of solely crafting flowers in the light. But at the 5th seed, it was the King who stopped her.
“Are you sure?” He asked. “You’re young, yet, with many things to experience in the world.”
When Kore ate the 6th seed, she saw the oppressive challenge of living in the underworld forever, without relief, for the seed tasted like sacred bowels of hell. And when they burst in her mouth, she tasted the King’s loneliness, and the curse of not being fully understood by any other being in existence. It was there that she stopped, for she felt gratitude--such deep thankfulness, for the simple life and shining sun she’d known before. In that moment, her hunger was satiated by her fear and love. But meeting the King’s eyes, she promised him, “I will return.”
And indeed, every fall as she journeys back to the underworld, leaving the earth barren of flowers, it’s a journey she takes with deep anticipation and pleasure.
Sometimes the curve in the road, the great accident that throws us off, is the most blessed event, shaping the delicate essence of our time here on earth.