The Festival of Kore is a celebration of the Greek goddess Persephone; Kore is the youthful, virginal aspect of the goddess, before she is abducted and taken to the Underworld by Hades, Zeus’ brother. In some myths, Persephone is the daughter of Zeus, the God of the Sky and Demeter, the goddess of agriculture, grain, fertility and the harvest. In other myths, Persephone is the daughter of Styx and Zeus or she is the child of Demeter and Poseidon, the god of the Sea.
Depictions and titles
The word Kore means “maiden” or “girl” and the youthful Persephone is commonly portrayed holding grain and wearing a hooded robe. In “A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology: Oarses-Zygia,” William Smith explains that Persephone’s name is rooted in the word “pherein phonon,” meaning, “to cause or bring death”; She is referred to by a number of names within the Greek language including Persephone, Persephoneia, Persephassa, Phersephoneia, Pherephatta, Pherrephassa, Phersephatta and Pherephassa. Smith also explains that the Roman adaptation of the goddess’ name to Proserpina is most likely a corrupt translation that is rooted in the term proserpere meaning “to shoot forth.” Persephone is associated with the element of the West; Homer writes about “The House of Persephone”: Sacred groves located at the edge of the Underworld, situated at the western-most boundary of the earth. On Grammatici.narod.ru, additional titles for Persephone are offered including Catherine, Core and Cora.
In the “Handbook of the Religion and Mythology of the Greeks,” Heinrich Wilhelm Stoll writes that Homer makes no mention of Persephone being carried off by Hades and that Hesiod is the first to share the idea that she is abducted in the “Theogeny.” According to Stoll, Homer portrays Persephone as the infernal and dark counterpart of Hades; As Hades’ wife, she rules over the departed spirits in the Underworld and she, along with Hades, after hearing “the curses of men,” bring them into manifestation. It was not until later that Persephone is viewed as a young, innocent goddess of vegetation who is abducted by Hades after the abduction is suggested by Zeus, her father and Hades’ brother. In the “Theogony,” Hesiod writes that Zeus went “to the bed of all-nourishing Demeter, and she bore white-armed Persephone whom Aidoneus (an alternative name for Hades) carried off from her mother, but wise Zeus gave her to him.”
According to Encyclopedia Mythica, once Persephone was abducted, her mother Demeter mourned her and roamed the world in search of her daughter; Helios, the Sun, told Demeter about the abduction and Demeter, angered and grieving, caused the world to become barren; Zeus sends the god Hermes to the Underworld to order the release of the goddess Persephone. Hades allows the goddess to leave but not before giving her seeds of a pomegranate; Once Persephone consumes the seeds she is permanently bound to the Underworld; This results in her return to the Underworld for one quarter of the year annually. The remaining time she was allowed to spend with her mother Demeter and the myth suggests that this is when the world is fertile and thriving with vegetation.
Dating of the festival
The Pagan Institute Report identifies the dating of the Festival of Kore as the fifth of January. On Grammatici.narod.ru, the Festival of Kore is also identified as falling on the fifth of the first month in the year. Other sources suggest the Festival of Kore is celebrated on the sixth of January.
The Pagan Institute Report explains that the celebration involved nocturnal rituals that began at sunset; Initiates, also called mystai, who were accompanied by flute music, would sing at the celebration and in Alexandria, at the Koreion, mystery plays reenacting Persephone’s descent into the Underworld as well as her return were performed.
Modern ways of honoring Persephone
Persephone serves as a reminder of the coming of spring and the perpetual change in the seasons. Practitioners can spend time meditating on upcoming changes or the changes one wants to implement in one’s life; Since Persephone is associated with the Underworld and spirits, the Death card of the Tarot is an ideal card to use for the purposes of reflection and meditation.
Persephone’s consumption of the pomegranate or pomegranate seeds are associated with the garnet stone; This stone can be used in spells or worn to ward of negativity or it can be carried by the practitioner to bring more positivity into one’s life. Through the myth of Persephone, the pomegranate also comes to represent unbreakable bonds; Thus, it might serve as a good time to reflect on the enduring relationship one has with the divine and how one can continue to nurture this relationship for the furtherance of spiritual growth.
If decorating the altar in honor of Persephone, the colors of white and deep red are appropriate; White symbolizes the light and joy that Persephone brings forth when she returns to the earth and her mother Demeter, and the darker colors represent the coloring of the pomegranate.