In Greek Mythology Persephone was the only daughter of Demeter, goddess of the harvest . Persephone was a striking beauty and her innocence and purity stole the heart of Hades, god of the underworld who abducted her one day while she was playing in a field of wildflowers. A heartbroken Demeter searched for her daughter in vain. When she learned that Persephone was now the bride of Hades she fell into a deep despair.
The earth went cold and the fields lay dry and barren. A perpetual winter seized the land. Mankind was close to starvation. Zeus finally agreed to allow Persephone to return to her mother and ordered Hades to free the girl. But Persephone had already eaten from the pomegranate fruit and he who eats of this fruit is bound to the underworld for eternity. Thus it was agreed that Persephone would spend nine months of the year with her mother on earth but with the coming of winter she would be forced to cross the river Styx and be joined with her husband in the underworld .
I was first introduced to the story of Persephone in the Spring of 1972. My mother and I had spent that Easter in Greece with her family. We were on an outing somewhere in the mountains near Mount Parnassus. The almond trees were in full bloom and the hills and valleys were carpeted in red poppies, wild orchids, anemones, irises and cyclamens.
As I went to pick a blood red poppy my Aunt Tania stopped me and said “Be careful what flowers you pick lest you share poor Persephone’s fate”, and there on the mountains fertile slopes she initiated me to the myth of Persephone.
And thus my journey began. Ever since that day the myth of Persephone has always intrigued me.
Persephone is the mother of all contradictions. She is light and she is darkness, she is life and death, she gives and she takes away. She is perfect balance. Persephone teaches us to respect measure and obey the cycle of nature. Persephone also reminds us to live in the moment, enjoy what we have now for it too shall pass only to come again renewed and revitalized. Change is eternal and necessary and absolutely integral with life.
Which is the reason I started this blog. Because when I see a field of poppies I remember to savor the moment. I stop and look. I smell the jasmine hanging from the fence that I pass in the street. I let the smile of a stranger warm my heart. I remember Persephone and I yearn to return to the most beautiful and enchanting garden that is Greece even if I am thousands of miles away.
So I created Persephone’s Garden, a garden of Greek heritage ranging from Greek history, archaeology, culinary and agricultural heritage, folklore customs, literature, music, art, politics and of course travel and destination information.
It is something that I have been wanting to do for a very long time. Throughout the years, my travels and even my work as a writer, I have collected a wealth of information that should be shared. Having said that however it is not just the information that I want to share but the knowledge, wisdom and philosophy of Greek Living which I believe is a kind of doctrine that few other cultures share. For example no other cultures valued and strove to live with qualities such as Arete, which in Greek means “moral virtue” and the “Greek Ideal” which was the devotion to the the highest standards of excellence achieved through superb cultivation of the body, mind and spirit.
This was of course thousands of years ago and the glory of the Golden Age of Greece is no more. Greece has suffered through devastating wars, her treasures and wealth pillaged. Being at the crossroads of East and West meant that many conquerors came and went. Some stayed for a short time, others for hundreds of years but all left behind a trace of their culture which makes discovering Greece all the more a rich and rewarding experience.
But Greece is not only history and culture. It is also the beautiful perfection of the landscape made up of mountainous, hilly peninsulas with lush valleys as well as hundreds of surrounding islands, located in and around the Aegean Sea. Greece is blessed with fertile soil, adequate rainfall and a moderate climate year round with higher than average days of sunshine.
These conditions create favorable farming conditions and Greece has a very rich and varied agricultural tradition producing top quality fruits, vegetables, wheat and barley and of course excellent olive oil.
With such a diverse geographical location, variety of habitat types and favorable weather conditions you can imagine the abundance of different species of fauna and flora of Greece which is one of the most ample in all of Europe.
This is my garden, this is Persephone’s Garden.