Retrogrades are not people’s favourite seasons in the year. Life seems to feel more difficult; conversations seem more fraught and life seems to slow down to an almost overwhelming trudge.
What are retrogrades?
A planet in retrograde means that it’s rotation changes around the earth, which gives the illusion that it is moving backward in the sky. However, in astrology, the significance of a retrograde is a much deeper, more complex thing than just the movement of that particular planet. According to astrology.com at least one planet in retrograde about 80% of the time. Understanding the complexities of the planet, the dates and the effects on us can be a really powerful tool for manifestation, authentic action and embracing the divine feminine.
Why is the Pluto retrograde of any significance?
The Pluto retrograde, which started on the 25 April will last until 4 October. Pluto as a planet is named after the Roman God of the Underworld and is, as you might expect tasked with bringing us to our living deaths, exploring death, abuse, control, loss and existential crisis. Brill huh!
As with any retrograde, we can look to these periods of times and themes to really dive deep into our subconscious thoughts, desires and actions. It is a long time that Pluto is in retrograde, which in our current climate can lead us to feel perhaps a lot more delicate than we would ‘normally’.
However, as with any period of time, there is a chance to emerge from these retrogrades a lighter, more purposeful individual. But perhaps the thing that I feel most strongly with the themes that Pluto is dredging up is that it is ok to sit with the feelings of loss, of feeling unsettled, more aware of death and our current situation and if, just for now, you need to allow yourself to succumb to those feelings, it is ok. Then, when you’re ready, you can start to work to overcome, as we always do.
What can we do during Pluto retrograde to help us evolve?
I have written a little Pluto in retrograde ritual here. If you would like, to then please use these journaling prompts to help you self-analyse and release.
Where does the theme of Divine Goddess come in?
As we are in retrograde season and this first retrograde is in the planet of Pluto; I thought I would do a bit of a deep dive into the Goddess that is associated with this period of time, how we can invoke her spirit, what teachings we can take and how to use her in our day to day.
So, the Goddess we can invoke during this time is Proserpine the Goddess of the Underworld in Roman mythology or Persephone in Greek mythology. I am going to specifically talk to Proserpine in this blog just to make it easy, rather than switching up the names – so to make it easy (Pluto: husband, Ceres: mother, Jupiter: father)
Pluto: The God of the Underworld
Her husband is Pluto (Ploútōn) (the planet Pluto is named after him), he is the God of the Underworld; his earlier Greek name was Hades. Pluto actually has a more positive reputation than that of Hades – his name meaning bounty and wealth (as minerals were found deep in the earth, and because the seeds needed for a bountiful life were also found in the deep earth). Although Hades and Pluto have different characteristics, they are the same person and embody different facets of their character. In fact, even the story of the union with Proserpine changes – with Pluto’s union he is described as a loving husband and they spent eternity together receiving the dead to the underworld and had a special place for those couples who had come without their other half. They were also known as Pluton and Kore (The Maiden). With Hades (the hidden one) the union is one of forceful abduction from her family.
Proserpina: The Goddess of the Underworld
The probable origin of her name comes from the Latin, “proserpere” or “to emerge,” in respect to the growing of grain. She was first introduced as a Goddess in 205BC. In 204BC she was identified in the Greek tradition and was known as Persephone. She is a life-death-rebirth deity. Her themes as a Goddess are divination, protection, purification. She is called upon when praying for a loved one’s health, or when they are to pass over from the living to the dead. She is also a Goddess that can be used to invoke a relationship, or to pray for the health of a romantic relationship that you are in. We will explore how we can use her divinity later on in this blog.
This story of abduction or consented union is where the myth of the changing seasons comes from. Let’s explore this a bit more.
Proserpine was the daughter of Ceres, goddess of agriculture and crop and Jupiter, the god of sky and thunder. She was described as a very beautiful and delightful young girl. Whilst she was living well with her family in Sicily; Venus, in order to bring love to Pluto, sent her son Amor to hit Pluto with one of his arrows (of love). One day Proserpine was at the fountain of Aretusa near Enna, where she was playing with some nymphs and collecting flowers (the flower narcissi), when Pluto came out from the volcano Etna with four black horses.
It is at this point in the story that there are two sides. 1) She went willingly with Pluto to the Underworld on his chariot 2) Pluto abducted her in order to marry her and live with her in Hades, the Greek Underworld.
Either way… Her mother Ceres, the goddess of cereals or of the Earth, vainly went looking for her in all corners of the Earth but wasn’t able to find anything. In her despair, Ceres stopped the growth of fruits and vegetables, bestowing a curse on the land of Sicily. Ceres refused to go back to Mount Olympus and started walking on the Earth, making a desert at every step. She refused to feed the Earth as long as her child was away from her.
Worried for the bounty of the Earth and for his wife, Jupiter sent Mercury to order Pluto (Jupiter’s brother) to free Proserpina.
Pluto admitted that he had her but said she could only go back home if she had eaten none of the food of the dead. While Proserpine was in the Garden of the Dead, she was tricked into eating 6 pomegranate seeds. Therefore, Pluto decreed that she had to stay 6 months of the year with him and then 6 months of the year at home. The other version of this story is that Proserpina willingly eats 4 pomegranate seeds, so when Jupiter orders her return, Pluto strikes a deal with him saying that since she stole the seeds, she must stay with him for 4 months.
It is said that as the seasons change from Spring – to Summer, Ceres is so overjoyed having her daughter back that she blesses the bounty of the Earth and it is vibrant and full. But before Proserpina goes back to the Underworld, Ceres changes the leaves to brown and orange (her favourite colours) as a gift to her beloved daughter. While she spends the months in the Underworld Ceres is bereaved and the
It is said that Ceres, because she is so sad her daughter is taken from her for these 6 months, she stops the bounty of the Earth, and everything dies. So, this is the reason for Springtime and Summertime: when Proserpina comes back to her mother, Ceres decorates the Earth with welcoming flowers, but when in Autumn and Winter she has to go back to Hades, nature loses any color.
Why is the divine feminine so important?
This story is actually a great example of the power of the divine feminine. Through centuries and centuries, the masculine dominance has been prevalent in our societies. We see it here through the abduction of the feminine for a male’s own needs, the dismissal of want or need from the feminine. Even if we view the story from the other side, we see streaks of independent thinking, tinged by being forever stuck in a tricked sense of self.
However, what we can also see through this story is the emergence of independence from her mother, to act in service to those souls who are lost and in transition. It is right that we look at Proserpine at this time, because she shows us that if we fail to visit our own ‘underworlds’ we will likely to be dragged down kicking and screaming. I will show you at the end of this blog how we can harness our own ‘underworlds’ for this purpose.
How can we use the divinity of Proserpine to cultivate the divine feminine in our lives right now?
- Anything that resembles the Spring for us – flowers, seeds, water
- Animals – bats, parrots, birds, monkeys
- Plants – pomegranate, narcissus, willow tree, lily of the valley, ivy, daisy, lavender
- Perfumes – floral scents
- Crystals – quartz, agate, black onyx, pink tourmaline, sapphire, obsidian, mercury, coral, agate, jasper
- Colours – green, black, light blue, purple, magenta, indigo and yellow
How can we pray to her during this time?
Proserpine is to be called for during prays for help with loved ones who are dying/are sick/mercy, she can also be prayed to for forgiveness, with abusive/controlling people in your life, to find true love and healthy relationships and becoming your true, most authentic self.
- Find a quiet space
- Light a floral candle
- Place flowers/items from your altar space around you
- Sit comfortably and close your eyes
- Focus on your breath, notice how your body moves with each inhale and exhale
- Draw awareness of what is around you, become present in this moment, in the here and the now
- Honour yourself for finding this time to bring in divinity into your day
A prayer you may use:
‘Proserpine, Goddess of Spring, Goddess of those who have passed, Goddess of love and self-acceptance – I call you now into this place.
‘I call on your wisdom, your healing, your divinity to heal/allow X to pass with peace/to find security and confidence in all that I am/for love/for guidance/for safety (whatever fits here for you). Darling divine, I ask you during this time for help, I feel lost and I know that your healing grace will guide me (or another) onto my/their true path.’
This is a time also to shed all that is holding you back from your true path – to show Proserpine where you need support and guidance. Prayers are a wish placed into the universe that lets those that surround us, or that we invoke know how to help us. By merely speaking a prayer into the space around us we receive blessings on all that we think, we feel and we do.
If you are calling on for peaceful passing for a loved one, or for healing of a loved one – then speak about them, let the universe know all that you love and care for them.
A ritual for harnessing our own ‘underworlds’
- Where am I choosing only to see the light in a situation?
- Where are the dark elements of my life, situation, relationship that I need to explore in order to find relief even if it scares me?
- What would my life look like without the darkness?
- What am I ignoring in my life in the hope that it will go away?
- What change do I need to make today to help me find the light?
- If I work on this darkness to find my ‘Spring’ path… what does a life of ‘Spring’ look like (a life of joy, happiness and bountifulness)?
I hope this has been helpful, any questions please ask!
Many blessings to you and yours during this time and for ever more