Seeing Down All Roads: We Are Not Without Hope.
Eyes scanning the horizon, the rocky coastline, the thick brambles and craggy cliffs where hardy wildflowers cling to the rugged landscape.
Seeking purity, hope, promise. A desperation seizing the edges of her mind, the seams of her eyes flaring, framing the irises with a corona of white like those of a mad mare.
Persephone was abducted by Hades, the god of the underworld.
The desperation of a mother looking for her lost child resonates deeply with me now.
As the seasons shift, as the wheel of fate turns for our country, the eyes of a nurturer seeking the form of promise, vitality and renewal is something that evokes a more layered understanding for me.
I too seek out hope from what looks like the barren, dry landscape of a war-ravaged land.
The celebration of renewal after the election has been usurped by what some are calling a coup, though a self-coup is perhaps more accurate.
As of this moment, there is no threat of violence.
Though in the air is the feeling of a captured joy, a stolen spring.
Persephone is the goddess of spring: embodiment of vernal unfurling.
Something we all seem to be casting around for, a feeling of rejuvenation in the harsh, jagged surrounds.
I envision not only the mother’s eyes, but her daughter’s too.
Open wide in stark terror, the fleeting glimpse of burgeoning beauty swallowed up by a consuming underworld king of darkness.
His gaze devouring, greedy and without mercy.
Seeking only his prize, and swallowing her into the bowels of a chthonic hell where there is no hope of escape.
I can see her eyes dazzled by sun, then blinded by the dark liquidity of the underworld.
These figures feel like inner facets, internal archetypes activated by this moment.
The maddened, mourning mother seeking a lost, innocent hope.
A terrified, stricken maiden plunged into a frigid, interminable hell-scape.
These figures may be embodied by many of us now, as our Edenic reprieve seems snatched by devious machinations.
It is natural for us to feel as though a season of renewal has been caught in a vicious snare.
There is, though, another figure in this tale. A triad of perceptual feminine awareness can begin to take shape if we sit with the terror, the seeming loss, the desperation.
A figure enters after the initial frenzy of activity, the screams, the lamentation, the eyes stung by sun and tears and darkness.
A figure at the crossroads, a liminal figure — Hecate.
Hecate is the goddess of magic, of the places in between, of shades and the dark face of the moon. She is often depicted as a three-formed figure, three women back to back, able to see down every path.
Indeed it is she who heard the wails of Persephone as she was captured by the king of the underworld. It is she who suggested that Demeter ask Helios, the sun god, what he saw as he passed above the earth in his blazing chariot, arching in fiery elliptical over all creatures in the day.
The mother sees what is lost, the daughter sees what has been taken, but Hecate can work together the strands of mystery, this inner figure is the one I call on now.
The one that can pierce the onslaught of anguish and confusion and see a working pattern, a way through.
The one that can look down each path with steely eyes and create a plan to preserve the innocent, to console the nurturer.
The spring-maiden in us screams in horror as the underworld king attempts to take what he wants in diabolical tyranny.
The nurturer in us wants to cry out in pain, to freeze our feelings, turning the area around us into a bleak and frozen place.
The taste of joy and celebration turned to ice as we are threatened with loss.
Ruth Ben-Ghiat, author of Fascist Modernities, has said, “One of the most devastating things he’s been doing is to emotionally train Americans not to care about others, to extinguish compassion and to extinguish kindness in themselves.”
We exist in a moment where political opponents are seen as absolute enemies. Each side of our binary republic seem to inhabit different realities, increasingly devoid of compassion for the other.
It can be difficult to experience this turn of events in ways that are not despair or freezing.
But the three-faced one, the keeper of the keys, the worker from afar, she is the conserver in the hour between.
In myth, she helped return Persephone to Demeter in a cyclic pattern of loss and renewal.
She teaches us that there are moments in the darkness, in the frozen feelings, in the terror, within which we can calm our animal responses, gather ourselves, look down each possible path, and plan.
Now, as in the myth, we are at a crossroads.
The tyrant king threatens to consume our revival, the mother in us cries out at the possible miscarriage of justice.
But we are not without hope.
The victory we tasted cannot be stolen as easily as the tyrant wishes.
There may be moments of darkness ahead, the path will take us into the heart of winter.
With the liminal, shadow-gazing vision of Hecate, and the clear, conscious sight of the sun, we can form a strategy.
One thing I have learned in my study of autocratic coups and self-coups is that peaceful demonstrations are key.
They reveal to the would-be autocrat and his supporters that he is not favored.
If these demonstrations become riotous, they permit force and powerful suppression which only creates more potential for the machinery of a fascist coup.
Even if a traditional coup isn’t on the horizon, a self-coup or autogolpe can be thwarted by a show of resistance that cannot be forcibly repressed.
We are strong in our numbers. Like Hecate, we must stand back to back and face down every dark corner united and clear-eyed.
With this ability to calmly face down avenues of attack, we form a plan that will return our hope and our ability to nurture and empathize, freeing us from the frigid landscape of our frozen responses to the fiendish plots of the dark king.
Maren Zweifler enjoys teaching Yoga with a focus on free movement and intrinsic shapes, emphasizing spinal fluidity and innate, primal posture. Deeply inspired by movement systems that embrace nature like Sridaiva and Continuum Movement. He completed a 500-hour certification in SF and has taught both there and in Austin where he honed his skills teaching private classes tailored to the individual needs of his clients. He created a wellness/yoga program at a non-profit. These experiences allowed him to explore both the unique individuation of the physical experience in one-on-one sessions, and the commonalities of the human form that can be witnessed in large groups. You could connect with Maren on Instagram.