There was a time, long ago, that Persephone, the Greek Goddess of Flowers, was forcibly taken by Hades, God of the Underworld, into the Underworld. Her mother, Demeter Goddess of Agriculture, searched for her daughter upon the Earth and on Olympus, but could not find her. As time passed, Demeter became enraged. She stopped all growth of crops upon the Earth. Somehow, she caused the world to grow cold. The more time that passed, the colder it became. Mortals called out to Olympus for help. Zeus called a gathering of the Gods on Olympus to pressure Demeter in lifting her curse.
All the Gods gathered before the Throne of Zeus. Demeter came forward and said, “Great Zeus, my daughter Persephone is missing. I have searched all of the Earth and Heaven. I can find no trace of her. You will not help me, so I must force your hand. I will not lift the curse until I have my daughter.”
“What can I do, Demeter?” asked Zeus. “Perhaps you should think of a new daughter.”
“That is unacceptable!” exclaimed Hera. “Would you have the same response if Athena were to disappear? Or Aphrodite?” She narrowed her gaze at her husband and lowered her voice. “Would you have the same response if it were your wife or sister? Hestia stood up from the hearth and joined her sister to stare down the King of the Gods.
“No! Of course not, my sweet. But what would you have me do?” said Zeus.
“I will tell you what I will do if I do not have her back,” said Demeter. She pulled a gossamer veil from the sleeve of her chiton. “I will unleash a cold upon the earth in which no mortal or God has ever seen. I will release the ice of the north to envelop the land. It will consume all of the earth and all that you have wrought since. No living thing shall breathe while I am without my daughter!” yelled Demeter. “For my suffering is no less than that. There is no power in all of creation that is stronger than the love of a mother for her child! And if I should suffer, then so shall you.”
Zeus saw the veil in the hands of Demeter.”Where did you get that?” She said nothing and only smirked. He became silent and pale.
The Gods and Goddesses broke into a fury of loud arguments and objections. “Quiet!” yelled Hera. She walked over to Zeus to join him. Hera stood beside her husband and looked into the crowd. When they quieted down, she spoke. “I believe we can shed some light on our problem, good sister. There is a one who can repeat the last words of Persephone before she went missing.” Hera leaned over to her still silent husband and whispered.
Zeus came out of his trance and nodded. “Hermes, Summon Echo.” Hermes disappeared and reappeared in the blink of a mortal's eye. With him, stood a woman in the form of mist. “Echo, I gave you the power to repeat the last words and deeds of any living being. I want you to recreate the last known moments of Persephone,” commanded Zeus.
Echo's misty form rearranged into a foggy image of Persephone. At its feet, was a strange flower that transfixed the gaze of Persephone as if in a trance. “I recognize that flower,” said Demeter. “That is Narcissus!” As her words faded, the mist on the floor opened up and Hades in his chariot bolted up out of the crack. Hades grabbed Persephone and quickly disappeared back into the foggy depths of Echo's mist. The mist reformed itself back into the form of a woman.
Demeter turned to Zeus. “This is your fault! You forced yourself on mortal women and never faced consequences! And now, my little girl is being held by one of our very own!” she screamed at him. “I swear on the River Styx, Zeus, if you do not find a way to fix this, I will make sure that you will pay in mortal lives!” She waved the gossamer veil at him.
“Hades!” Zeus yelled, making all of heaven quake.
Hades appeared before Zeus. “You called?”
“Where is Persephone?” demanded Zeus.
“I don't know where Persephone is,” said Hades.
Zeus stood up. “Liar!” he screamed.
“No, really!” objected Hades. “I did take Perspephone but she is no longer Perspephone. She turned herself into a little girl and calls herself Kora. She is with me and with me she must stay,” responded Hades coolly. “She ate the food of the dead. She cannot return.”
“Liar!” screamed Demeter. “You are holding her prisoner and taking advantage of her.” Demeter tried to make a dive at Hades, only to be held back by the Goddesses. “She knows the rules! She never would have eaten the fruit willingly!”
“Persephone! I want Persephone here!” commanded Zeus. Hermes disappeared and reappeared with Persephone. Zeus looked at her. “Did you eat the fruit of the dead as Hades claimed you have done?”
“I...I...don't know.” Persephone started to cry. “I don't know what's happening.”
Demeter broke free of the Goddesses grip and went to her daughter. “Persephone, you are on Olympus.” She hugged her daughter tight.
“Mother?” She exclaimed softly. “You're real?” Demeter nodded. “I'm really on Olympus?” Persephone broke from her mother's grasp and turned back to Zeus. Zeus nodded at her. Persephone related her story. “After he...he...forced me. I couldn't handle it anymore. I went away. I made myself into Kora. If you want to know more then you will have to talk to her.”
The Gods were silent. The unprecedented personlaity switch was an amazing survial instinct that the Gods didn't know how to repsond too. Zeus' repsonse was complete rage. He looked over at Hades. “You took my daughter and you truamatized her back into childform!”
“She is notyour daughter! She is mydaughter!” yelled Demeter.
“She never would have been born if I had not forced your maidenhood out of you, Be grateful Demeter and shut up!” yelled Zeus back. “Where is this child called Kora. I want her here now!”
Persephone's form shifted. It shrank into a little girl and her body became see through. The crowd gasped. “I am Kora,” said a disembodied voice. The silence of Olympus reached a new intensity. Some of the gods sat down, some began to weep.
Zeus colasped into his throne. “Well, that explains Yggdrasil shaking.” He turned back to Hades. “You have no clue what you have done, do you?”
“I got what I wanted. Kora will eventually turn back into Persephone. All I have to do is wait,” said Hades smiling.
“NO!” roared Zeus at Hades. A bolt of lightening struck beside the King of the Underworld. “What you have done is allowed innocence on Terra to die! It has consequenses and is the beginning of the end for us, you puny minded little freak! Even the Gods can be held responisble for any misdeeds from now on.” Zeus turned back to Kora. “How did this even happen?”
Echo stepped forward. She shifted her form to relate the story. Hades waited until Echo was gone. He placed a picnic down to have dinner with Kora. The food mostly came from from the grove of Echo but in the bowl of pomagranate seeds, he placed six seeds that were food of the dead. In kora's trusting innocnece, she put them into her mouth and swallowed them.
“There!” said Hades. “Persephone ate the fruit. It doesn't matter how much.”
“Treachery!” shouted Demeter. “My daughter did not willfully eat the fruit.” She turned to Zeus. “How can you let this pass? How can you let such vile deception in your house?” She crumpled the veil in her fist and shook it. “By the River Styx, Zeus! If you don't make consequences I surely will!”
The fear was plain to see on the face of Zeus and confusion rippled through the crowd of Gods. Hera, taking advantage of the moment of silence, raised her hands. “Compromise. We must find compromise.” She turned to her husband. “Zeus, it was only six seeds not a whole fruit. You must make a ruling on that.”
Zeus glared at Hades. “No,” he said flatly, “Kora ate the food of the dead.”
“But Kora isPersephone!” yelled Hades.
“No, she isn't. Kora is Kora and Persephone is Persephone. What is one, is now two. Kora will be in the underworld, but only for six months of the year. The rest of the year she spends with her mother, as Persephone.” Hades tried to object but Zeus roared at him. “I will not have this happen again! The coercion or force of a man on a woman is outlawed! Mortal or God, no longer matters! And so help me Hades, if you force yourself upon that little girl, the River Styx will have nothing to do with you and I will, personally, chop your ass up and throw you into Tartarus myself!.” Zeus turned to Persephone and pointed at her. “Kora and Hades are declared married. Kora shall be the Queen of the underworld, with all the powers befitting that rank.” Then, he turned to Hades and pointed. “But in no certain terms does she have to follow your command as a wife! Her duties in that nature are her choice. She does not have to bend to your will.” Zeus gritted his teeth and sneered. “You wanted Persephone, now suffer the consequences of a Queen who will not have you and you cannot have!” He turned to Demeter. “Does that suit your demands?”
Demeter smirked at Hades. “Why I can't think of a better punishment, Your Lordship.” She shoved the veil back into her sleeve. “But while she is with him, I shall still bring the cold. Just so you don't forget the bargain.”
“Fine,” snapped Hades. “That means Kora still has another two months with me!”
“I think not!” yelled Demeter back.
“She can't, you simple woman!” said Hades. “It's too cold for her on Terrra. Persephone cannot be there now. You have to warm the Earth first!”
The Gods could say nothing in the face of such planned treachery. Zeus used the silence to his advantage. “Then it has been decided. Kora shall return to the Underworld for two more months. Demeter shall begin to warm the earth to prepare for her daughter's return. At the end of Persephone's stay with her mother, the spirits and flowers that depend on the warmth shall be sheltered in Echo's grove while the earth turns cold during Kora's stay with Hades. These times will be known as 'Seasons'.” He looked over at Hades. “Get out of my court!” Hades, Kora, and Echo disappeared. Zeus ended court and retired to his chambers. The Goddesses, on the other hand, gathered together in the courtyard.
Hera and Hestia guided out Demeter, who had started to cry. They sat her down on a bench. “Don't cry, Sister,” said Hestia gently. “You know where she is and you know she won't be gone long.”
“Two months is not even a blink for us,” said Hera.
“I did tell you,” spoke Nemesis, as she joined the growing group of women. “I told you that if you didn't do something about..”
“Yes.” interrupted Hera, flatly at Nemesis. “Yes, you did. Now, please just stop.”
“How can I trust him to leave my girl alone?” she asked the group of women. “He has already proved that he can't be trusted. How do I know he isn't forcing himself on her right now?”
“That is just a drop in the bucket, Demeter,” said Athena. “Zeus, Hades, and Poseidon has already set the precedence. It's okay to take any female you want and do what ever you want with her. It's okay because that will mean you're married now!”
“Oh, I don't even think so,” responded Aphrodite. “No man will ever dictate me, my body, or how I use it. If a male should try to do so, I will bleed so that he cannot. And if he should do so anyway, my blood will cause a hormonal rage that will defy logic!”
“That's a good idea, Aphrodite,” said Artemis. “I'll do that too.”
The entire group of women responded sequentially, “Me too!”
“You know something even better than that?” asked Nemesis. The group turned to her. “Give it to the mortal women. No man shall find relief.” The group laughed and made it so.
That is why women in families have sequential cycles.
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