Embodying Persephone’s Desire: Authentic Movement and Underworld Transformation


  • Elizabeth Eowyn Nelson Pacifica Graduate Institute




Jungian interpretations of the Homeric Hymn to Demeter that address the theme of woundedness focus primarily on the abduction/rape of the maiden and the inconsolable rage of Demeter. Another subtler wound implicit in the Hymn frequently goes unmentioned: Kore’s initial status as a nameless offshoot of the mother goddess. This essay shows how the author explores emotional implications of the myth through a ritualized enactment of the central Eleusinian mysteries using the principles of authentic movement, a process that generated a fresh interpretation of the Hymn to Demeter. The thesis is that an interpretive variation of the myth focusing on the mutual vulnerability and strength of Hades and Persephone—their willingness to recognize and be recognized, to penetrate and be penetrated—makes possible a shared healing, in turn contributing to the fertility of the underworld. It is through the coniunctio of Persephone and Hades that the underworld becomes a place of abundance.