Book Review: Persephone Rising
Awakening the Heroine Within
By Carol S. Pearson, PhD
I took Latin in high school, and while it’s proven fairly useless (why, O why, did I not learn to speak French like a properly chic person?) it did leave me with an abiding love for Greek and Roman mythology. That’s why I was so intrigued to read Carol Pearson’s interpretation of the Demeter and Persephone myth in her new book, Persephone Rising: Awakening the Heroine Within. Pearson is an expert on depth psychology; her life’s work has centered on the idea of archetypes and how these mythic, universal patterns affect human behavior. She is the creator of the Pearson Archetypal System, building on the work of Carl Jung, Joseph Campbell, and others, and she is the author of the classic The Hero Within. In her latest book, she turns her attention to the tale of Demeter and Persephone and the Eleusinian Mysteries—the religious rites that sprang up around the story and were practiced by both men and women in ancient Greece for nearly 2,000 years.
Pearson gives each character in the myth space and a voice—Demeter, with her broken heart and steadfast refusal to accept the loss of her daughter; powerful, bullying Zeus; the youthful, kidnapped Persephone, finding her footing as a woman; joyful Dionysus. Through these classical archetypes of antiquity, Pearson guides us moderns in examining not only our fundamental, underlying beliefs but also those of our greater society. Pearson writes that there are many archetypal stories that can motivate and guide us, but the Persephone and Demeter myth is “primal.” “If you ever feel like you are living on the surface of life and hungering for something more real and authentic,” she writes, “these archetypes can help you return to the human basics that can fulfill that longing.”