There’s a sense the world is getting ready to transition from the action-packed sun-filled days to the slower-paced dark womb of winter.
The weather is getting cooler, and the days are getting shorter. The sun begins to retreat, the leaves begin to fall, and the animals store food for the winter ahead. The air in the morning and night is crisp. You might be sleeping more soundly.
While the natural world around you starts to prepare for shorter days and cooler temperatures, you will likely find yourself naturally slowing down and turning inward too. Fall is a transitional time, and you can use this time to consider what in your life needs to be released. This could be a habit that’s no longer serving you, a belief that keeps you playing small, a resentment you continue to harbor, or maybe it’s a relationship that’s no longer evolving.
When we release what’s no longer serving us in the fall, it’s like sowing the soil so we can plant new beliefs and habits to grow. We can look to Persephone, the Greek goddess of spring and the Queen of the Underworld, to teach us how to use the seasons as a reminder to let go of the things holding us back so we can grow into the highest version of ourselves.
The Story of Persephone
Persephone was a beautiful maiden, most well-known as the beloved daughter of Demeter, the goddess of grain and the harvest. One day, Persephone was picking flowers in a meadow (I imagine her smiling innocently without a care in the world) when suddenly the earth cracked open. Hades, the god of the Underworld, appeared. He noticed Persephone, and as often happens in Greek mythology, he was immediately lovestruck. So he captured the maiden and brought her to the Underworld to be his wife.
Of course, Demeter was utterly distraught—as any mama would be over the loss of her daughter. She looked all over the earth but couldn’t find her anywhere. Forlorn and angry, Demeter neglected her tasks, and the land became infertile. Not only that, she threatened to keep the land barren forever if her daughter wasn’t returned. Famine ensued. Zeus, the god of the sky (who also happened to be Persephone’s absentee father), feared that human life would cease to exist (moreover, so would all the sacrifices his human worshippers would offer him). He finally intervened. He sent Hermes, the messenger god, to the Underworld to bring back the young goddess.
However, while Persephone was in the Underworld, she ate some pomegranate seeds Hades offered her. This act invoked an underworld rule that would require Persephone to stay with Hades for half of the year but return to her mother for the other half. Some say Persephone ate the seeds on purpose to stay with her lover (this is the version I choose to believe), as most accounts tell of Hades and Persephone sharing a happy and loving union.
When Persephone returns to her mother, Demeter lights up, and the crops and flowers bloom—it is Spring. But, when she goes back to her husband, Demeter becomes depressed and again neglects her tasks as she grieves her daughter’s absence—this is the onset of Fall. And that’s the story behind the seasons.
It’s important to note that Persephone is not just the goddess of spring, but she’s also the Queen of the Underworld. Unlike many gods and goddesses who remain static, Persephone evolved from a naive maiden into a powerful, sovereign queen with much authority. We can look to this myth to remind us that though change can be difficult, it begets growth. There is a life/death life cycle inherent in the seasons, and it is present within us too. We can use the seasons as a reminder to release what is no longer serving us and evolve into our highest selves—or, let’s say, the Queen.
Persephone can guide us through these transitions to remind us to let go of what’s keeping us from achieving our full potential. And while letting go can be challenging (as humans, we often desire to keep things the same), it’s necessary for our evolution. If everything stayed the same, Persephone wouldn’t have become a sovereign and empowered queen.
Release and Renew with a Fall Ritual
To tap into Persephone’s energy to release and renew, you can practice this fall ritual.
First, you’ll need an altar (or something that can be used as an altar), candle, burn-proof dish, journal and pen, and an offering to the goddess Persephone—maybe a pomegranate, spiced cider, or some leaves that have fallen. This creates an environment that is hospitable for the goddess.
You might even want to recite an invocation:
Persephone, Goddess of the Underworld, help me release what is no longer serving me so that I can evolve to my highest self. Let me offer [this belief, relationship, grudge] back to the earth to be mulched so that I can plant the seeds of my new intentions. Guide me to reclaim my crown and become the queen.
Next, get in a comfortable seat. Take a few moments to sit silently, coming back into your body. You can do this by focusing your attention on your breath.
Once you feel safe and grounded, consider what is no longer serving you and what needs to be released. Again, this could be a habit, belief, resentment, or attachment. Pick one item that is holding you back.
Write it on a piece of paper. Imagine what your life would be like if this item were released. Close your eyes and consider:
>> What would you do?
>> How would you feel?
>> Where does this feeling show up in the body?
Sit with this feeling for a few minutes. See if you can expand the physical sensation throughout your entire body. When you’re ready, take the piece of paper and burn it in your burn-proof dish. Now that you’ve sowed the soil, you’re ready to plant the seeds of your new intention.
Next, set a new, empowering intention.
Consider what you want to achieve, how you want to evolve, or what you’ll give birth to next. Write this down in your journal. Write it in the present tense. For example, I have an inspiring job that supports my family. Avoid negatives when crafting your intention. So instead of creating an intention that reads, I no longer engage in toxic relationships, write, My relationships are healthy and empowering.
Now, imagine that you have achieved it. Visualize what your life would be like. What would you do? How would you act?
Consider how it feels in your body to have accomplished your goal. Sit with this feeling for several minutes or as long as you like. Then, focus on this feeling of growth, achievement, and evolution.
When you’re ready, petition Persephone for any guidance needed as you move forward with this intention in mind. Whatever insights you receive, write them down. Thank the goddess and blow out your candle.
Here are a few other rituals to help you release and renew this fall:
A womb-clearing meditation
As women, we hold on to a lot—that’s what our wombs are designed to do. Though sometimes, we hold on to too much. Take the time to do a womb-clearing meditation and release anything or anyone holding you back from evolving into a queen. Here’s my free womb-clearing meditation.
Fall self-care practices
The fall is a great time to introduce grounding self-care practices like yin yoga, abhyanga, and journaling. This is a time that we naturally want to turn inward. So if you don’t feel like going to the party, stay home and read, write, or watch the movie you have been dying to see. Use this time to reflect on where you are and where you want to go.
We just talked about planting the seeds of our new intentions. And you can also literally plant some bulbs! If you don’t already have one, start a garden. You could even get some paperwhite bulbs for your window. Plants help us to become more connected to mama earth. When we surround ourselves with plants, we can’t help but remember the life/death/life cycle constantly at play, both outside and within us.
I am a queen who will rise to the occasion.
I wish you growth, release, and rebirth on your journey.