While gathering flowers, Persephone was abducted by Hades, ruler of the underworld and brother of Zeus. Hades desired to make Persephone his wife and queen, but Demeter demanded her return. Angry at Zeus's vacillation, Demeter caused all crops to die, threatening mankind with starvation. Zeus relented and attempted to persuade Hades to return Persephone to her mother.
However, while in the underworld Persephone had made the mistake of eating six pomegranate seeds; this formed a magical link between her and the underworld of Hades. As a result, a compromise was reached in which Persephone spent six months of the year above ground, living with Demeter, and six months (one for each pomegranate seed) in the underworld, raining as queen beside Hades. This cycle is taken to account for the alternation of seasons between the life and growth of spring and summer and the death and decay of fall and winter.
It probable that the Eleusinian Mysteries consisted in part of a reenactment of this myth cycle.
Crowley on Persephone (no pun intended)
From Moonchild, Ch. 14:
- But beyond such minuteness of detail is the grand character of the Moon, which is threefold. For she is Artemis or Diana, sister of the Sun, a shining Virgin Goddess; then Isis-initiatrix, who brings to man all light and purity, and is the link of his animal soul with his eternal self; and she is Persephone or Proserpine, a soul of double nature, living half upon earth and half in Hades, because, having eaten the pomegranate offered her by its lord, her mother could not bring her wholly back to earth; and thirdly, she is Hecate, a thing altogether of Hell, barren, hideous and malicious, the queen of death and evil witchcraft.
- Wikipedia. 2005. Persephone (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Persephone). Retrieved on Feb. 17, 2005.