Rape and the Miracle of Joy

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( photo of a Passionflower that just opened this morning and a photo I took at dawn that I call Persephone’s Mist)

 

Category: Essay

Tags: Persephone, Greek Mythology, patterns, dreams, feminsim

 

 

This morning I walked to a river that was shrouded in mist that ran parallel with the flowing waters skimming over smooth round stone. As columns of wave –like, smoke –like mist billowed skyward I remembered last night’s dream…

 

I am with a young girl who has discovered the slender green and white stems that surround pure white bouquets of crocus that are not yet in bloom. These clusters of budded flowers are located just outside my front door on the land I live. I carefully and compassionately explain to this young girl that she cannot take what does not belong to her… these crocus are emerging on land that belongs to me, but perhaps we can share them.

 

Reflecting on the dream I am struck by my deep compassion towards the young girl. I see her as a Persephone.

 

In Greek mythology Persephone was a child who was spirited away to the underworld while picking flowers and raped by Hades while her mother’s back was turned…Demeter, who was a Great Goddess was not able to protect her own daughter from Fate, suggesting Demeter’s influence does not extend into the underworld. A warning to all mothers, perhaps.

 

Persephone’s story has been my own, literally and metaphorically.

 

Although we continue to ignore these myths in the modern world relegating them to primitive thinking we do so at our peril, because myths are the stories that inform us of the patterns in our lives.

 

Whenever I am spirited away by Hades I experience this descent as a spiritual if not physical rape that is beyond my control. As my birthday approaches during the week of the Grecian Eleusinian Mysteries (which re-acts the descent of Persephone) I am struck by my dream body’s response to this yearly cycle of descent or despair that I am asked to acknowledge if not actually endure…

 

Today I honor my body and tell her that I am sorry that I didn’t know how to love her or how to behave in a compassionate way towards a child and or adolescent who had no control over a destructive pattern that dominated her life.

 

It no longer matters why. It only matters that I support the child and the young girl I was, just as I support the woman who has come forth to reveal that she was almost raped by Brett Kavanaugh, nominee for the “Supreme Court” of this country. To elect a Patriarchal judge who once attempted rape of a child/adolescent (and who no doubt eventually did rape because the pattern was already present in the adolescent boy) – is an obscenity.

 

Some scholars understand that these patterns persist over a lifetime and through generations although most Americans deny this reality. Why? Because the United States is steeped in the myth of “free will” and an “either or” mentality. A “both and reality” is an anathema to Patriarchy. In the ideology of “free will” the pattern of rape doesn’t exist. This leads us to the conclusion that patterns can’t be a force to be reckoned with. This Patriarchal approach is frightening nonsense and one reason we don’t hold boys and men accountable for attempted or actual rape.

 

In reality boys and men rape because warring Patriarchal culture says they can (power over) and because they are living out a destructive inner pattern. I think these boys and men need to be identified and incarcerated after one attempted rape. If a boy is old enough to rape he is old enough to be tried in a court like an adult male.

 

I can only hope that Dr. Christine Ford’s allegations of sexual assault will result in this man being dropped as a nominee for the Supreme Court.

 

But to return to my story…

 

Persephone’s loss of innocence and descent into hell is the result of having been split in mind, body, and soul, a wound that no child, adolescent, or woman ever completely recovers from.

 

To pretend that one heals adequately from such a wound is an atrocity, dismissing the reality of what is. Rape opens the door to suicide, depression, PTSD, and Generalized Anxiety Disorders, the latter three cannot be cured. A woman who has had a rape experience will probably never feel safe in the world even if she never admits it.

 

My dreams persist alerting me that what I have just written is truth, while reminding me to behave compassionately towards myself during these cyclical periods of my own forced descent.

 

What interests me the most about this dream is that in the myth Persephone was picking saffron yellow crocus (a flower that only blooms in the fall) before she was abducted by a rapist. The only difference is that the young girl of my dreams shows me a scattering of crocus that are pure white, the color of innocence and not the yellow associated with Persephone’s crocus.

 

What this suggests to me is that although I am a woman who has been raped twice, once by men, and then by a pattern that has dominated my inner life, my innocent self still survives. The dream illustrates that both the woman and the young girl have access to shared innocence. What was stolen has been restored.

 

That Joy lives on is the Miracle.

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