Ask Persephone: Pandora’s Box (of chocolates)
Valentine's Day advice from the Dread Queen of Hell
February 14, 2017 at 11:10 am
Sometimes even crones need a (wrinkled, gnarled) guiding hand when walking through the long, dark hallway of (semi) mortal life. A few brave souls beseeched Persephone, Crone of Crones, Dread Queen of the Dead, BFF of Hekate, Goddess of Witchcraft and the Hearth for her guidance. Here are their pleas and her responses.
Greetings and salutations,
Ah, Valentine’s Day — a day to revel in the only thing more fraught and utterly temporary than human life on this planet: romantic love.
Before I answer the prayers and entreaties of my faithful petitioners, I have some general portents for all mortals observing this frivolous pagan holiday:
Lovers come and go — they age, they die, they transfigure your other lovers into animals or plants. One day Aphrodite Pandemos might shine her light on your pure and perfect romance, and the next she might water her garden with blood wrung from your still-beating heart.
Whether or not you have a lover to celebrate with, I advise you to spend at least a little time today cherishing the only companion guaranteed to accompany you throughout the entirety of your finite human lifespan: yourself.
I don’t know what to do about Valentine’s Day. I feel like there are conflicting narratives about what it should mean to a young twenty-something woman about town like me. On the one hand, I feel like I’m supposed to be “chill” and not expect too much more than a fancier-than-usual Blue Apron and some Two Buck Chuck. It’s all about Hallmark and benevolent sexism, right?
But on any other day, if my beau neglected to honor a special occasion with the right amount of thoughtfulness and intimacy, people would be like, “THAT TRASH DOESN’T DESERVE YOU, TIME TO DUMP HIM/HER!” I respect myself enough to acknowledge that deep down, I really *do* want to be swept off my feet with flowers and candy and jewelry and a Hitachi wand, and and and… But I’m kind of ashamed of my naked need, and its convenient alignment with our hyper-consumptive culture. How do I get what I want without seeming like an entitled brat?
Double Standards Are Forever
Dear Double Standards,
An eternal being watching civilizations crumple into dust beneath her feet has the luxury of waiting ages for her will to manifest without uttering a word.
An ephemeral creature doomed to wither under the heel of Time, however, does not.
Tell your partner how to best woo you on this special day. The universe will not bend to your whims.
But you must first come to terms with your desire for these tokens of affection. Remember that even the basest of mortals longs to ascend to godhood for a day, and what better way to live divinely than by feasting on the praise and offerings of a devoted supplicant. If you’re willing to return the favor and celebrate your beloved, it’s perfectly acceptable to indulge in this debauchery every now and then — provided that your aforementioned beloved understands how much these gestures mean to you.
Different gods require different sacrifices for different holidays throughout the year. You might honor Aphrodite with a lock of your hair on one feast day, or a pure white goat cloaked in moonlight on another.
Furthermore, yours truly passes one half of the year sipping mojitos in a flower crown, and the other half of the year passing judgment on the departed souls of all mankind. We all contain multitudes.
An offering sacrificed on the altar of love doesn’t need to reinvent the wheel to serve its purpose. The simple, affectionate gestures you’re yearning for might be linked to archaic practices of a bygone era, but are even more deeply rooted in a timeless, divine need for adoration and devotion.
Mortal beings cannot live eternally in the halls of the gods, but by sharing your heart’s desires with your partner, you just might get to live there for a day.
Last year for Valentine’s Day, I bought myself some expensive and tasteful lingerie to entice my boyfriend and spice things up. Much to my surprise, he reacted with disgust, saying that sex should be completely spontaneous. The lingerie turned him off because it makes it obvious that I “premeditated” wanting to have sex. I’m not sure how to approach the issue this year. I mean, it’s the ONE day of the year that’s devoted to thinking about and having sex! Am I just supposed to pretend like I’m not thinking about doing it on the Annual Day of Doing It? How do I create a fun, sexy mood without seeming like I had an elaborate plan all along?
The Importance of Being Horny
The next time he complains about your “premeditated” advances, you could turn him into a potted eucalyptus — how’s that for spontaneous?
Two souls bonded by love may never agree on everything. They may have different needs and desires. They may not have synchronized capacities for physical intimacy. These are normal and inevitable consequences of a long-steeped love.
But your partner meets your earnest pleas for love and affection with not just rejection, but disgust. Like plants, athletic ability, and meticulously crafted vengeance, intimacy grows only where you care for and cultivate it. Your partner cast a binding spell, salting the garden of yearning and need.
Perhaps the two of you are very young, and your partner does not yet know about the potency of anticipated lust. Perhaps your partner is finding excuses to avoid your embrace. My eternal yet distanced gaze cannot fully scry the true motivations of your partner’s heart.
But whatever his reasons, you’re still going to spend today worrying about which way Damocles’ sword is going to swing.
The gods can transfigure a man into a parcel of herbs. They can sculpt sea foam into a goddess of infinite beauty. They can even depose the King of Hell, flinging him into the farthest reaches of the dominion he once presided over. But all of the might of the cosmos combined can’t turn a toxic, emotionally fraught situation into a “fun, sexy mood.”
On this day in particular, you’ll be standing in a mostly barren orchard, reaching for a singular, tantalizingly ripe fruit that is painfully out of your grasp. Don’t plead for a capricious partner to lower the branch for you. Find a better orchard. Find someone willing and eager to fling open Pandora’s box and unleash those evils upon the world.
Do you seek relationship portents from the Queen of the Underworld? Email email@example.com or go to our tumblr to ask anonymously.